I worked for Candoco as a performer and teacher from May 2000 to December 2003. Travelling the world with a ground breaking international dance company was indeed a unique opportunity and a life altering experience. It gave me an insight into the power of dance to tranform on many different levels and in particular, how it shifts attitudes towards disability. It also gave me the opportunity to rediscover my love of this art form, opening up a whole new world of performance and somatic exploration.
Since arriving back in New Zealand at the end of 2003 I have started choreographing my own pieces and also developing a theoretical framework for an approach to my work. In 2009 I completed a Practice as Research, Masters in Creative and Performing Arts at Auckland University. My thesis explored the ways in which a dancer with a disability might disrupt or reinforce conventional contemporary dance aesthetics and discusses my own choreographic practice and how it challenges conventional aesthetics embracing images from the freak show and grotesque.
Last year I was the Caroline Plummer Community Dance Fellow at Otago University where I made a site specific piece called ‘House of Memories‘ which was inspired by the experiences of people with visual impairments and also performed by them. At the moment I am working with another Auckland choreographer, Sean Curham, on a performance installation piece and collaborating with a writer, Michelle Powles, developing a proposal to combine writing and dance as a new working practice. I also work with Touch Compass Dance Company, based in Auckland, as a dancer and choreographer.
I have many fond memories of performing and touring with Candoco that I will always treasure. One of the memories that stands out to me is performing Fin Walker’s ‘Shadow‘ and literally waiting in the shadows before my next move and feeling this incredible energy coming from the other dancers and feeling SO proud of everyone and how fantastic they looked. I felt really lucky to be part of this amazing company.
I think Candoco’s greatest achievement is maintaining a high profile and being uncompromising in its approach to excellence and professionalism. It’s high visibility has changed many people’s lives.