On Saturday 2 June, the hugely successful, international touring show, Trolleys, comes to Bell Square. Bizarrely, the idea for this show came out of an advert for Riva Coffee that Australian choreographer Shaun Parker made in 2007!
So how does a choreographer develop these ideas?
Part dance. Part ballet. Five guys on shopping trolleys perform an extraordinary outdoor spectacle. Choreographed by Shaun Parker, and performed by London-based C-12 Dance Theatre, Trolleys enthrals and amazes.
Five shopping trolleys randomly appear on the Square. Two meet and fall in love. Another has an argument with a stranger who then becomes a friend. Three others revolt and ignite a dance of anarchy.
Set to pounding electro-acoustic music, the trolleys spin, glide and slide in a show that is both heart-warming and heart-breaking at the same time.
The show is an international collaboration between C-12 Dance Theatre, a company based in East London, and Shaun Parker who lives and works in Sydney.
The role of the choreographer
A choreographer designs and creates dance, as a composer writes music or a writer creates a play. The choreographer specifies the movements of the dancers, and the speed, energy and feel of the dance piece. As dance does not usually have a spoken text, the choreographer creates a piece of dance that conveys emotions or tells a story through movement.
The choreographer then directs rehearsals, teaching the dancers how to perform the various sequences of movement in the piece.
Shaun Parker was initially a very successful dancer, touring internationally with some of Australia’s leading dance companies and national theatre companies.
After 17 years of performing around the world - and experiencing the work of many choreographers - he decided to return home to Sydney to work as a choreographer himself. He says: ‘With choreography, I never chose it; it chose me’. He goes on to explain: ‘I was about 36 and I thought: I have to do my own thing and set up my own company.’
So in 2010, Shaun Parker & Company was born. Now, he is an award-winning choreographer whose work has included film, television, and live dance shows in iconic venues such as the Sydney Opera House. He has also worked commercially on music videos and advertising campaigns.
His TV advert for Australian-brand Riva Coffee (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MgNsFFbFfeM) wowed TV and cinema viewers, as four dancers danced with their supermarket trolleys, finally reaching for the coffee and sending it down the checkout conveyor belt! Shaun immediately saw the potential to develop this idea into a full-length dance performance. And through connections in London, he hooked up with C-12 Dance Theatre to collaborate on making the new show.
Shaun’s approach as a choreographer
In talking about his approach and style, Shaun says: ‘My work is very human. When I create dance, I want people to be moved and to feel and to think, and to become lost in the performance. I want to use art, dance and music to remind people of their humanness, to celebrate empathy, and to inspire us to strive to become more than society’s limitations placed upon us.’
In an interview with Jodie McNeilly for Tanz Connexions (Dance Connections), Shaun discussed how he sees his work as Australian. ‘What makes my work typically Australian is the physicality of the dancers, which is a signature of most Australian dancers. This has a lot to do with growing up outdoors, doing a lot of sport, being under the sun with all that space. Our dance studios are big and so it is possible to ‘whack up a leg’, making our dances expansive, spacious and hyper physical.’
He also readily admits that he has a naughty sense of humour and this cheekiness is evident in many of his shows!
Trolleys shows all this style and humour and is very demanding for the dancers. Shaun says: ‘Trolleys is very athletic, merging contemporary, acrobatic and street dance with the extraordinary world of trolleys. Soaring patterns of the music visually match the movements of the trolleys. It is very emotive and quite beautiful. Using an everyday, mundane object that takes on human qualities, we tell a story that draws you in’.
Come and see Trolleys at Bell Square on Saturday 2 June 2018 at either 1.00pm or 3.00pm.
We look forward to seeing you there.
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