HomeArticlesArts & CultureWhat Do Dance and Architecture Have in Common?
Inside Out, Bleach* Festival

Feature image credit: Tammy Zarb

What Do Dance and Architecture Have in Common?

Kate Veling | April 2019

Premiering at Bleach* a bold new work choreographed around a unique piece of Gold Coast architecture is pushing the boundaries of contemporary dance.

Usually when you attend a dance performance, you’re sitting down in a theatre watching the stage. Inside Out turns that traditional experience on its head. Inside Out is a compelling, site specific dance and physical theatre work in which the venue – the Abedian School of Architecture at Bond University – is an integral part of the choreography. In fact, the work was created around it.

Described as “a bold choreographic encounter with site” the performance requires the audience to move through the building with the dancers, along sloping pathways, down spiral staircases, across mezzanines and out into the organic environment of the forest that surrounds it. Five highly skilled dancers will be glimpsed from different perspectives as the audience travels across the grandeur of this cathedral of concrete. The cinematic-like experience will be enhanced by live vocalists and soundscapes created by composer and sound designer, Guy Webster.

The link between dance and architecture might not seem immediately obvious but for creator, choreography and movement director Tammy Zarb, the interplay between them is a fertile space to explore. “Dance and architecture share the same spatial qualities that are experienced by the human body through space and movement over time,” she says. “I feel that dance and movement allows us to understand the spaces around us.”

As you’d expect from a building designed specifically for an architecture faculty, the Abedian School of Architecture is a unique and striking building that was designed from the inside out. Architects, Crab Studio, designed it with close consideration to the school’s curriculum and the students who would be using it. The spacious, open nature of the layout was designed so it could be used in unforeseeable ways – which made it the perfect site for Tammy’s project.

“Over the years I have become very interested in creating new performance contexts using space, body and drawing from architecture to creating experimental pieces,” she explains.

“I want to challenge and engage audiences to re-think how live performance can be viewed in unusual and non-theatrical spaces. I began to explore sites on the Gold Coast for me to place a new dance work. I have always dreamt of bridging my passion for dance and architecture together.”

Tammy received funding from the Gold Coast City Council’s Regional Arts Development Fund (RADF) for creative development, rehearsals and the world premiere of the performance at 2019 Bleach* Festival. She says this kind of financial support is key to developing the local arts sector and makes the work of Gold Coast creative more visible and appreciated.

“It has accelerated my trajectory into creating this new work,” says Tammy. “Support from RADF has enabled me to develop choreographic ideas and assisted me in creating space for emerging and professional artists to apply diverse choreographic tools to contemporary site practice, encouraging the culture of artistic collaboration.”

Usually the venue is off limits to the public and Tammy is excited about opening up the doors for Gold Coast audiences to experience contemporary dance and architecture in a brand new way.

Over her 25-year career she has developed a reputation for challenging the norm and pushing the boundaries of her craft.

She’s worked across many different genres in her arts practice and collaborates with dancers, circus performers, acrobats, aerialists, stunt performers as well as visual artists and composers.

She is one of the creative directors for Circus Corridor and has directed works for Festival 2018, 2017 Bleach* Festival and many international productions. She is a creative powerhouse and a key player in Gold Coast’s contemporary dance sector. Her latest offering draws on her experience and skill as a director to create a completely unique kind of performance.

Inside Out will be showing from April 26 – 28.

The Regional Arts Development Fund will open for applications on Friday 3 May.

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