Paul White


Dancer Paul White has danced for many leading contemporary dance companies including Australian Dance Theatre & DV8 physical theatre. He is the 2008 recipient of the Best Male Dancer at the Helpmann & Australian Dance Awards and the current NSW Elite Champion for FISAF Sports Aerobics.

Paul White has teamed up with choreographer Meryl Tankard and visual artist Regis Lansac to create a new Australian work, The Oracle - a modern incantation of ancient rites and classical male beauty. Paul Andrew gets two minutes with dancer Paul White during rehearsal.



Paul WhiteHow did you come to work with Choreographer Meryl Tankard?
Meryl had seen me perform in an ADT project called Honour Bound, for which I received an Australian Dance Award. She asked me to participate in a three week research period without any specific result in mind. We worked a lot with the images and paintings of Odd Nerdrum and created hours and hours of great images and movement. Wonderful video imagery!

Meryl kept seeing a 'Nijinsky-esque' type quality to my body and movement and came up with the idea of The Rite of Spring. An improvised solo about earthquakes fitted perfectly to music from the Rite: including Magnificat by Joao Rodrigues Esteves in Act One and in Act Two, The Rite of Spring by Igor Stravinsky. It was this music from Nijinsky's work that inspired her more to develop the idea further. His solo is still in the piece today, almost unedited.

This is your first solo work?
True. I had never before performed a solo piece so there were many aspects of the process that were foreign to me, for example the physical strain of rehearsing all day without a colleague to share the workload. However working with Meryl and Regis was a treat. Meryl is relentless in getting what she wants in the studio, which I respect and see as one of the keys to creating something special. It was very much a choreographic collaboration, which pulled for a close relatedness between us and therefore a lot of freedom and fun in the studio. The movement is challenging and at times even frustrating to execute, but I'm always left with that we have created something special.

Your role as “The Oracle” sounds like a demanding and mercurial role?
The piece is full of opposing forces. It's masculine and feminine, it's violent and nurturing, there is strength and vulnerability. The 'chosen one' in the tale of the Rite of Spring is honoured to be selected as the sacrifice but fearful and wary simultaneously.

I think there are very few oracles of our time. As a majority we are all so consumed by our own lives. I've loved delving into a piece with a deep mysticism and richness.

And the score?
The music score had much to do with how we created the choreography. It's incredibly intricate and articulate music that when one hears it played, worlds are created. As a result of working with the many characters of the story in mind, there are many varied physical aspects represented in the performance. Many of the movements in the piece appear as if there are alternate forces at play. I cower in fear, move cautiously, explode through the air, fight invisible forces, and caress the earth.

Personally, this sounds like a very satisfying project?
I am honoured that someone would wish to create a solo work with me, and very proud of what we've created. I see the Rite of Spring as sacred and the opportunity to dance it moves me every time. The choreography is visceral and earthy and often evokes anger, fear and sensuality in me. By the end of the piece having danced the 'sacrifice' I'm exhausted which, as an athlete, is very satisfying.


The Oracle opens December 3 at the Malthouse Theatre, Melbourne. Further details»



Images -
Top Right & Cover - Paul White. Photos - Peter Whyte

Most read features

Zuleika Khan

Welcome to the first in a series of interviews, Artists in Isolation, our first guest is cabaret superstar and front-line worker Zuleika Khan who shares her experiences as a theatre maker stuck in isolation and a nurse protecting the community.

Kearna Philpott

This week, Heather Bloom chats to professional dancer, Kearna Philpott who was on board the RCCL Spectrum of the Seas when the pandemic began.

Jake Matricardi

This week Heather Bloom chats to Jake Matricardi, an usher for the Marriner Group on his thoughts on the COVID-19 pandemic and the crisis unfolding in the theatre world.

Petra Kalive

After five years as Artistic Director of Union House Theatre, Petra Kalive joined Australia’s oldest professional theatre company in early 2020 having previously directed BeachedMelbourne Talam and Hungry Ghosts for the Company.

James Zala

As we continue our series investigating how artists and the arts industry is coping throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, I travel (virtually of course) to the UK and speak with Flying Director James Zala from Flying by Foy.

Most read news

Cirque du Soleil postpones Melbourne performances

Cirque du Soleil has decided to postpone Melbourne performances of its show KURIOS until 15 April, 2020

Adelaide Festival Centre COVID-19 update

Following the declaration of a Public Health Emergency in South Australia, Adelaide Festival Centre venues will close to the public and all performances will be suspended from midnight until the 30th of April.

Theatre Works to Close Until May

In response to the unfolding health situation, Theatre Works have made the difficult but necessary decision to temporarily close our venue until 1 May.

Melbourne International Jazz Festival 2020 cancelled

Scheduled to be programmed this winter, the Melbourne International Jazz Festival (MIJF) in its current form will be cancelled in response to ongoing developments regarding the threat of COVID-19.

Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour cancelled

Opera Australia has regretfully cancelled the upcoming Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour, La Traviata, in line with the government ban on static public gatherings of more than 500 people to try to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Sign up for our newsletter

* indicates required