Maurice Causey transforms his inked body into a fluid vessel, twisting, turning, snaking around the Corrimal dance studio.
As he moves he encourages the group of elite young dancers to not only follow his lead – but to make their own shapes and connections with the space and people around them.
This is improvisation – William Forsythe style. Forsythe is one of the most influential and creative dance artists of our time and Causey is a Forsythe protege.
The international choreographer and dance teacher has been invited to Wollongong by Austinmer Dance Theatre (ADT) company director Michelle Forte.
Forte set up the ADT, a not-for-profit company, three years ago as a way to bridge the gap for young dancers.
With the help of two small grants from Wollongong City Council and Culture Bank Wollongong, which paid for Causey’s airfare to Australia, the 17 dancers are given a taste of what it’s like to learn from a choreographer of international acclaim.
‘‘It’s amazing to have Maurice here,’’ says Forte. ‘‘It’s important to give kids the experience of working with a professional, current choreographer. The tools they are learning will be invaluable if they ever decide to take dance to a professional level.’’
Causey, who is based in Amsterdam, lives the life of a gypsy and calls dance studios all over the world his ‘‘office’’.
The week before flying to Australia he was in Bulgaria, teaching classical dance to a group of professional dancers.
Earlier this year he spent three days in China creating what he describes as ‘‘an instant’’ piece for 26 dancers. He will return to Beijing in January to work with another dance company.
‘‘I have never worked with the Chinese before and it was a bit intimidating at first because of the language barrier,’’ he said. ‘‘But the language of dance is universal so we communicated that way and of course I had a translator. But what’s important to me is the exchange of energy and facial expressions.’’
Over the next few weeks Causey will work on a new creation for ADT before heading to Norway for the premiere of one of his works at the end of the month.
The former Ballet Master of the Royal Swedish Ballet said the intense week-long workshop would enable the young dancers to experience what it was like to create their own movements.
‘‘Dancers today need to collaborate with choreographers, they are not told what to do any more,’’ says Causey. ‘‘They need to know how to invest in the work themselves, to be a leader and to learn to create. It’s an extremely valuable tool for this new generation of dancers to be able to offer choreographers ideas. It’s very necessary and expected at all the big dance companies.’’
The Austinmer Dance Theatre company auditions are on October 27.