19. 10. 2016

Be the Choreographer at Renmark Field Day

Our activity called ‘Be the Choreographer’ had it’s first venture out last month. The Renmark field day was the setting for our premier of the interactive event. 4 professional dancers headed out to experience the 2 days in the hope to connect with people and create conversation about contemporary dance. In particular the creative process of choreographing and improvising.

The experience works through an interaction between dancer and audience member. The audience member has the opportunity to choose a dancer, 6 dance moves and pick a piece of music. The dancer then improvises around the information given and is recorded live. Two of the dancers have given their response to the day and what they experienced. As we are venturing out again soon, it is great time to look at what we learnt and gained from the previous outing.

Peter Vayne

DanceXtend aims to develop and encourage community interest in contemporary dance throughout regional South Australia. It is a phone/touch-screen app used in conjunction with live dance performance. As part of this project, Be the Choreographer allows the general public to step into the role of choreographer and interact with professional contemporary dancers to create a 40 second dance piece.

The Renmark Field Day is an annual event which offers a weekend of exotic food stalls, knick-knacks and giant tractors. Contemporary dance might seem a bit out of place there, but our small-stage outdoors set-up was well-received. Our crowds were made up of different genders, ages and ethnicities, although we found our main demographics were young girls and boys (below 12) and teenage girls. From my promotional experience in the past, I’ve found younger (20 and below) and older (50+) people are usually more eager to try/participate in something. Unfortunately the older population was just as intimidated by the notion of them dancing onstage (which we explained was not the case) as trying to operate an iPad. Perhaps there’s a less techno-savvy way to cater for them? I’d especially recommend having more seats for passersby to watch us from.

The way we encouraged the public to participate was very methodical. Our 3 minute group choreography gathered a few spectators; then we had to choose our words carefully because most people expected to dance onstage and would immediately run off. If we made up some extra signage with: “COME AND TRY THIS we would inform more people that there’s something to participate in. Once they were involved however, everyone had a great time! We were also delighted to have a few of our younger choreographers jump up onstage and dance with us.

Overall the Renmark trip was very successful. There are a few adjustments which could help us reach more of the public next month, although their response is already encouraging.

Cazna Brass

Venturing to Renmark for the annual Riverland Field Days, there was some uncertainty of the responses to be given to the new DanceXtend App, Be the Choreographer.  Our mission: to allow the community to experience the skills of choreography for contemporary dance through the App live. Being the first trial of Be the Choreographer, we had fantastic weather for both days.

At the beginning, and also sporadically throughout the days, we danced our set dance. By doing this we were able to build a small crowd, meaning more opportunity to get involvement from the Riverland community.  It was noticeable that Be the choreographer was very captivating for younger children through to teenagers. When approaching adults, we found grandparents and parents were generally willing to take the app flyer for their grandchildren and children to try at home, yet not willing to give it a go themselves. However, in saying this, we did have a few keen adult participants who enjoyed having the opportunity to experience being a choreographer. An interesting note, in most cases, males would choose the male dancers and females would choose the female dancers.  There were some who chose their favourite colour from the t-shirts the dancers were wearing, which was of opposite gender.

What was really fantastic was that many participants (choreographers) realised, whilst we were dancing the connections between the words chosen and dance movements, were actually related/interpreted/took on board. We found, whether it was the dancers or the helper, asking the participants at the end of the dance piece/recording if they saw the connections between the words and movements. Consequently, this allowed for more conversation about contemporary dance and the way in which a choreographer could task dancers. Many younger participants returned during the day to try different variations of words and selection of dancer. Musically, the “Peter” soundtrack was most popular.

We gave a couple of children a chance to participate in a role reversal, with the assistance of two dancers, whilst the other two dancers chose the words and movements.  The children were extremely thrilled at this opportunity.

During the Fields Days, we experimented focusing on selecting particular language comfortable to the community to engage and explain how the App worked, and what we were doing. We found by having only one Ipad during the first day, although a quiet day, reduced the amount of people that came by and stopped. Solving this the next day, which was very busy, we had 2 Ipads.  The uploading of videos seemed to go very well, however, some people were reluctant in providing an e-mail or the younger children didn’t have one/ didn’t remember it.  Another interesting note, the choreographers found it easier for a helper to film, whilst they watched the dance piece happen live.

Larissa McGowan

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Workshop dates TBC


Dance Workshop


Larissa McGowan and Country Arts SA



About the Artist

Larissa McGowan

After studying dance in Brisbane and Melbourne, Larissa joined Australian Dance Theatre in 2000 and has since toured extensively with the company winning multiple awards for Best Female Dancer including a Helpmann and Australian Dance Award. Larissa appeared as a guest choreographer on two seasons of ‘So You Think You Can Dance’. She has created work for WOMADelaide, Link Dance Company, Sydney Dance Company, Tasdance and premiered her first full length work, ‘Skeleton’ at the 2013 Dance Massive.

Country Arts SA recognises and respects that we are living and creating on Aboriginal Lands and we are committed to working together to honour their living cultures.