FERTILE GROUND

BY ASHLEIGH MUSK AND MICHAEL SMITH

Flipping Dante’s Divine Comedy on it’s head and transporting the audience to a place of shifting landscapes, we arrive in a moment of limbo where audience and performers navigate their way through a micro cityscape of cement bricks, reimagining and re-crafting their reality in a call for collective action. This limbo, this state of purgatory, is a series of images, scenes and tasks that unpack themes of human impact, our compulsive need to leave a footprint on nature and our persistence to conquer, outlive and survive in the face of crisis.​

Drawn together by their passion for using dance/movement as a vehicle for empowerment, shared reflection and change, Fertile Ground marks the first of Ashleigh and Michael’s collaborative choreographic practice.

KEY CREATIVES

Ashleigh Musk – Choreographer / Performer
Michael Smith – Choreographer / Performer
Anna Whitaker – Sound Composition and Design
Liesel Zink – Dramaturge
Daniele Constance – Creative Collaborator 
Kate Usher – Producer

DATES

November 2020

LOCATION

Metro Arts @ West Village

THE ARTISTS

Michael Smith

Michael Smith is a Brisbane-based dance artist whose practice encompasses contemporary dance, dance-theatre, film, performance art and installation. His work often questions the traditional roles of audience and space – traversing active participation and audience as allies. Michael uses imagined realities, memory spaces, and explorations in fantasy as a means to access the duplicate beings that reside in us. Michael’s work has been performed across platforms such as Dance Massive Site Responsive Showcase, Ars Electronica (Austria), TanzZiet (Berlin), AGITART Figueres Festival MOU (Spain), Japan Media Arts Festival, STRUT Dance WA SEED Residency, Metro Arts, Sunshine Coast Arts Prize and South Bank Corporations ‘Flowstate’. In support of Michael’s emerging choreographic practice, he is currently a recipient of the Brisbane City Council Lord Mayors Fellowship (2019-2020).

Michael is currently an artist with The Farm, a dance-theatre company under the artistic direction of Gavin Webber and Grayson Millwood. He has worked for companies and organisations such as STRUT Dance and Opera Australia. As a freelance performer, Michael has worked with independent choreographers including Liesel Zink, Cass Mortimer-Eipper, Paul Selwyn Norton, Jack Ziesing and Robert Crispe, Yilin Kong, Guy Shomroni and Yaniv Abraham, Matt Cornell (Dirty Feet), Lizzie and Zaimon Vilmanis (Prying Eye), Nerida Matthaei (Phluxus2), Gareth Belling (Collusion Music and Dance), Amalia Pica (IMA), Vanessa Mafe-Keane, Courtney Scheu and Liz Lea.

www.michaelsmithprojects.com

Ashleigh Musk

Ashleigh is a Brisbane-based dance artist, creator, producer and facilitator, who uses dance and movement as a vehicle for empowerment, celebration, shared reflection and change.

After graduating from QUT with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Dance Performance) in 2012, Ashleigh moved overseas and while working as a practicing artist, choreographer and producer throughout the UK and Spain she also completed two postgraduate diplomas in contemporary dance and cultural event management and production.

Ashleigh has worked with companies and choreographers including Liesel Zink, Guts Dance (AUS), Companyia AGITART | Roger Fernandez Cifuentes, Grace Euna Kim (BCN), Denada Dance Theatre (Spain/UK), Jamaal Burkmaar Dance for the Matthew Bourne New Adventures Choreographer Award Showcase, James Wilton Dance, Ben Wright and Frauke Requardt (UK).

In 2013, Ashleigh co-founded AGITART (Spain), a project consisting of the annual Figueres es Mou dance festival, audience engagement projects, a touring dance company, theatre programming and collaborations with international partners.

Ashleigh is currently a selected artist on the Place2Play program, creating a site-responsive work premiering in Caloundra in 2020. She is also Program Manager with Supercell Festival of Contemporary Dance, co-choreographer for the ​Alice Can Dance project (Alice Springs) and performing in ​The Perception Experiment (Dance Massive, Darwin Festival and 2020 national regional tour) with Guts Dance.   

Liesel Zink

Liesel Zink is an award-winning Queensland based choreographer interested in the body in shifting environmental and political landscapes. Seeking to engage new and diverse audiences in meaningful arts experiences she creates large-scale dance and sound work in public space and uses her process as an opportunity for artistic, cultural and intergenerational exchange.

In 2019, Liesel choreographed a new site-specific work We and the Uncertain in Ukraine at Mystetski Arsenal and undertook a La Boite /MDH residency for development of a new public space dance/science project Awesome: a state of wonder and fear. In 2018 Liesel premiered new dance and science collaboration Inter at Flowstate, and joined Force Majeure as a lead artist in development of their site-specific work FLOCK, commissioned for the Commonwealth Games Cultural Festival. She’s also been commissioned to create works for Australian dance companies including Tasdance, EDC and LINK Dance Company.            

Anna Whitaker

Anna Whitaker is a Brisbane based sound designer, composer and audio engineer with a palate for experimental, acousmatic works and surround sound composition. She graduated from Queensland Conservatorium of Music with a Bachelor of Music Technology, and since has designed and composed for productions including Festival 2018, Bleach* Festival, La Boite Theatre Company, tasdance, Brisbane Festival, MELT Festival, and The Farm. Her vast background in classical music and technology-based sound art result in musical concoctions from the traditional and contemporary worlds. Anna’s unique voice is also evident in her installation works which have exhibited at Bleach* Festival, HOTA, Flowstate and MetroArts. She has an extensive knowledge of sound and audio, working as an audio engineer at Queensland Performing Arts Centre since 2016 and landing roles as Local Keyboard Programmer for Beautiful: The Carol King Musical and Book of Mormon.    

Daniele Constance

Daniele Constance is a participatory artist, art therapist and producer, with a strong focus on socially engaged art making practices. She creates artistic works that draw from direct experience and storytelling, using verbatim, documentary, contemporary and embodied performance practices.

Daniele is Director of ​Aha Ensemble,​ a contemporary performance collective dedicated to creating engaging, inclusive and curious performance works; while providing professional development opportunities for artists with disability in South East Queensland. In 2019, the collective premiered a new dance theatre work ‘Explain Normal’ in collaboration with Phluxus2 Dance Collective; presented with ​Metro Arts,​ with support and funding from Brisbane City Council, City of Gold Coast and Arts Queensland.

Kate Usher

Kate Usher is a Brisbane-based Producer and Arts Manager and is currently the Festival Director for Supercell: Festival of Contemporary Dance. Kate graduated from QUT in 2008 with a Bachelor of Creative Industries (Dance), a Graduate Certificate in Arts Administration in 2009 and a Masters in Creative Production and Arts Management in 2011.

Kate’s previous engagements have included Ausdance Queensland as Executive Director, Research and Project Officer at Positive Solutions, Associate Producer at Metro Arts working across all art forms in contemporary performance, Producer at World Science Festival Brisbane, and her formative years were spent with the Queensland Performing Arts Centre in the Arts Programming team. During her time with QPAC Kate worked on numerous projects such as: in-theatre performance, commercial projects, large scale events and bespoke festivals. As a freelance producer, Kate has worked for Woodford Folk Festival, La Boite Theatre Company, Brisbane City Council and Artslink.  Kate is a keen advocate for Independent Dance and was a member of the Ausdance Queensland management committee 2010 – 2016.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

This project was supported through an Ausdance QLD and Australiasian Dance Collective Four Walls Residency.