Cher at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival
Choreographed and performed by award-winning choreographer, dancer and fan, Larissa McGowan; Cher explores the persona and characters of the ultimate pop chameleon in this contemporary dance piece. A mash-up of gender, power and pop culture, Larissa uses Cher as an icon for transformation and aging as a female artist. A self-discovery of epic proportions; a headfirst dive into the artist’s path to immortality.
Lisa turns back time with choreographer and performer Larissa McGowan and chats all things Cher, and why we should be heading to the Adelaide Cabaret Festival this June. Read the full interview below:
You have choreographed many successful works for leading Australian dance companies, what has lured you back to performing?
I have been very fortunate to create work on leading Australian Dance companies and will hopefully continue to do so. As for performing, I have continued to do this in many contexts but of course in order to fulfil my creative dream of choreographing, time needs to sometimes be split or negotiated to satisfy both creative outlets. I guess I've finally found time to spend time on myself.
I love the promotional reference to CHER relating to the notions of the ageing artist and the concept of transformation. What is the fascination with Cher for you, when did you become a fan? What is your favourite Cher song?
Cher has always been a mesmerising character to me. I don't think there was a particular moment that I can recollect that I realised I was a fan. But she has always been there. I guess she remains an icon of resilience for me & I can only feel admiration for that quality she projects. I look at qualities like this and commend woman who rise to the top amidst the pressures of the entertainment industry and all this comes with. Turn Back Time has to be my favourite. I mean, that outfit, all those sailors & a cannon. I mean!!!
Chicken or Egg question! What was your starting point for this work - the icon/artist that is Cher and her lifetime of ‘reinvention’ and perpetual quest for youthfulness OR those notions around ageing and transformation as applied to artists which then led you to the use of the famous popstar as subject and theme?
For years & years I had said to my collaborators Steve Mayhew & Sam Haren that I wanted to do a Cher show. Mostly because I thought it would be fun & we had just made a piece where I was Sigourney Weaver in Alien. We had talked about powerful woman cast in roles not usually given to woman. I had cheekily suggested that one day I will make works about many iconic powerful woman like, Cher, Wonder Woman etc. But honestly, I was quietly hoping it would find a way to come to fruition. The idea of reinvention came from many discussions about my own reflection of being in this industry and looking at how Cher managed to do this. She has a way of always staying relevant, she is an icon. I use her as a totem for these notions around ageing & transformation.
You have been a professional dancer with ADT, choreographed music videos, full length dance works, worked as a choreographer on So You Think You Can Dance Australia AND toured internationally. Is there a high point in there : A piece that is closest to your heart from your performance career, and a favourite among your choreographic works?
That's always so hard to answer or even compare the array of work I've created or been a part of. I do, however, have some special moments that are near the top. As a dancer with Australian Dance Theatre I was fortunate enough to travel & perform in famous theatres all over the world. A couple top ones would be The Joyce Theatre in New York, Theatre de la Ville in Paris, Southbank London & some really old raked stages in France's smaller villages. As for a work, I was extremely proud of Fanatic. It was originally a solo piece for myself but I extended this idea on a piece for Sydney Dance Company. It was really invigorating to take a theme about Alien Vs Predator & put it on some of the best dancers around and also in front of such large audiences.
What is the best and worst thing about choreographing and performing your own solo work? And can you say what might be the most tempting element in CHER that will attract audiences to your work in the Cabaret Festival?
I think it's the biggest challenge to put on yourself. To task yourself on ideas for the work, challenge your thoughts after creating them, and then do it all again. Sometimes I look in the mirror in the studio asking, 'Ok Laz, what you got?'. It's a weird psychological battle with yourself to deliver what your mind wants to say and to truly reinvigorate your ideas, challenge your process and find new pathways within your body. Aside from that, it's super exciting & I love to be challenged. I think this will attract audiences firstly because it revolves around CHER, but also the idea of using the medium of dance to deliver an icon's spirit of reinvention through an abstract form. It's also rare to see contemporary dance in a cabaret setting. It offers so much through how we connect with our audience and the tropes used to entertain an audience. This will be quirky, funny, weird & entertaining, hopefully a new experience for those that don't normally see contemporary dance and will get them out seeing more.
RAPID FIRE QUESTIONS:
Favourite production you have ever seen?
Don't have one
You’re getting on a plane tomorrow and you can go anywhere in the world, where do you go?
Dream role to perform?
All of them
Plays or musicals?
A hobby you have beyond the theatre? Singing & Drawing
What’s next for you after this show? Development of a dance theatre work with a female action star
CHER opens on 19 June 2019 as part of the Adelaide Cabaret Festival. You can get your tickets here.