Dance Nation at Red Stitch Actors' Theatre

Maybe this is the year, this is the moment, this is the dance where your lives will start!

A troupe of pre-teens are working on a brand new routine with their dance teacher, and if it’s good enough they could just make it to the finals. Will this be the dance that changes their lives forever? Can they unleash the power to realise their dreams?

Rosie chats with actor Natalie Gamsu about Clare Barron's prize-winning new play that explores puberty, ambition and friendship, set within the turbulent world of competitive dance. Read the full interview below:

Natalie Gamsu

Many of our readers may remember you from The Hayes’ production of Carmen, Live or Dead, another show which celebrates feminine identities. Why do you find yourself drawn to these works and what do you hope to achieve within them?


Thank you……how lovely that your first line is about Carmen, Live or Dead!

I am drawn to these works because I’ve mostly found that roles for women are so narrow and often predictable and they certainly don’t reflect the huge range of women that I know and that I feel myself to be. I guess by creating Carmen I wanted to show that there is so much more to us. We are not wrong for not fitting in to such tight stereotypes – the stereotypes are not accurate. We are not just young or old – sexy or not – straight or something else – cerebral or emotional…...we are SO much more.

We are talking more about diversity now and that’s great, but I think age is still something that we (writers, actors, producers, studio executives, directors) are still scared of. Strong mature women who are alive and sexy and sexual and powerful and don’t necessarily look like we’ve been told to look or should look by a certain age. There’s still a long way to go. We’ve only seen a narrow slice…..


The opening of Clare Barron’s Dance Nation marks the Australian premiere of this vivacious female-driven work. Why do you think this story needed to brought to an Australian audience, and what can we expect from the show?


You can expect to be shifted. It’s a wild ride. It’s funny and sad and moving and shocking and fierce and tender. Lots of adjectives I know, but truly, that’s the experience in the room every day. I think it says something about young women and their dreams and sexuality and untapped power that we haven’t seen in this way before.


Why is it so important to showcase young female voices? How do you think Dance Nation has done this so successfully?


I think it’s more about how our young voices get squashed and how years later…..sometimes decades later you have to reclaim those voices….if you remember them. Or you have to do enormous amounts of work to remember and reclaim and integrate them and give them permission and yourself just to be.


You’re someone who has a particularly strong performance background. What personal connection have you had with the story of Dance Nation, and has your past training informed your character?


I think all past training informs your work and your characters.


This show has sparked a lot of thought about what it means to be the best at school at sport or academically or the most popular or in the cool gang…..what the currency was then and what happened….how did being the best or not being the best play out later. What did it feel like to fit in or not. And what happened to those girls – to us – later on.

If audiences could only buy one ticket for the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, why should this be the show they see?


I truly think it’s a unique piece of theatre that will reverberate for a long time! And you will laugh. A lot. And hopefully be moved too.




Favourite production you have ever seen?

Impossible……too many …..I’ve lived on the earth for a while…..

You’re getting on a plane tomorrow and you can go anywhere in the world, where do you go?

INDIA – always India…….

Dream role to perform?

The MC from Cabaret….again… many roles….

Plays or musicals?


What’s next for you after this show?

MY DEARWORTHY DARLING at the Malthouse (written by Alison Croggon, directed by The Rabble).

Dance Nation opens March 17 2019 at Red Stitch Actors' Theatre as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. You can get your tickets here.

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