The Dinner Party Tour with Expressions Dance Company
An elegant dinner party hosted by an influential young man for his manipulative guests is thrown into turmoil when power meets greed, ambition and jealousy. As the evening wears on The Dinner Party exposes society’s insatiable desire for control and status and the power-play between the guests intensifies as the accusations start to fly.
Who really holds the power at this sophisticated table? And who will be in control by the time coffee is served?
Premiering to extraordinary reviews in Brisbane in 2015, The Dinner Party (former title The Host), is gripping contemporary dance theatre from Queensland’s award-winning Expressions Dance Company.
Carly spoke to the Artistic Director of Expressions Dance Company, Amy Hollingsworth about how the piece has developed over the years and what it's like managing such a successful dance company. Read the full interview below:
As Artistic Director of Expressions Dance Company, you have overseen the latest production The Dinner Party as it has been in QPAC and taken on a national tour. What do you believe it is about this piece that resonates so powerfully with audiences no matter where it is performed? What do you believe it, through dance, manages to so clearly say that audiences around Australia are understanding and enjoying?
I feel the piece resonates with audiences across time and place as it revolves around an innately human story – a dinner party loaded with the delicate navigation of social constructs is a situation that many of us have experienced. It explores darker aspects of human nature, but they are timeless themes of profoundly human emotions and insecurities that speak to those who watch it. Control, status and power and their ability to corrupt our more positive human traits are, however unfortunately, both persistent and consistent themes in our society.
People understand and respond to body language and dance is a heightened and more nuanced form of that communication. It is a profoundly effective medium to illustrate emotional undercurrents. This coupled with the exceptional skills of the dancers is why audiences are both engaged and enjoying The Dinner Party.
Having taken over the Artistic Director position earlier this year, what are you finding to be the greatest joys and the challenges of managing a great Australian dance company? What has proven most rewarding so far and what has been substantially harder than you anticipate most of us would imagine looking in on the job from the outside?
One of my greatest joys is working with such an incredible group of people – the dancers and the admin and production teams at EDC are profoundly creative and exceptional artists and enablers. They all share my goal of encouraging, demonstrating and cultivating creative freedom and fire in all those we work with, inciting a passion for and a sense of freedom to be expressive, curious, joyful and empathetic.
One of the greatest challenges of this job, that I am seeing, is that people today have a lot less time and a lot more choice with what they connect to in their ‘free time’. So, it takes a lot of thought, heart and creativity to keep making artistic choices that grab people’s hearts and minds. It is a challenge that exhilarates me – I enjoy striving to find ways to connect, to reimagine our boundaries. I am committed to finding ways to make excellent art that immerses and invigorates our audiences and create opportunities for them to breathe fresh life into our art when we see it through their lens.
The Dinner Party is an innately human story that we can all relate to. What are some other themes and topics we can expect to see expressed through the power of movement during your time as Artistic Director? What are stories that are important to you to tell?
We all respond to themes and topics that affect our lives, so my programming will seek to keep exhilarating dance works that celebrate being human as a top priority. We will see works that unpack our collective fears, desires and the challenges we face as a society. We will also keep redefining our boundaries so that we are reflective of the ever-increasing digitisation of our world and how we picture ourselves within it.
Why must audiences around the country ensure that they see The Dinner Party and what do you hope that they will continue to discuss after they leave the theatre?
First and foremost, I hope that they will continue to discuss the quality of the incredible artists they had the opportunity to experience. The EDC dancers are both passionate and talented; their physical and dramatic skills are so engaging that the success of this show is inextricably linked with their strength as performers.
I also hope that the audiences of The Dinner Party find that this performance allows them a deeper consideration of behavior, deepening empathy and perceptiveness of each other’s journeys. The beauty of our art form is that by illustrating innately human stories we can provoke personal reflection in those we connect to.
RAPID FIRE QUESTIONS:
Favourite production you have ever seen?
Punchdrunk’s Sleep No More in New York
You’re getting on a plane tomorrow and you can go anywhere in the world, where do you go?
Can it be a round the world trip with many stops?
Dream show to direct or produce?
My first 2020 program for EDC
Plays or musicals?
Both. But if forced to choose… Plays.
A hobby you have beyond the theatre?
What’s next for you after this show?
Getting ready for Matrix, our collaboration with Beijing Dance / LDTX that begins in August and our 2020 program launch.
The Dinner Party is touring Queensland, New South Wales and the Northern Territory from May - July. For more information and to get your tickets, visit their website.