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  • Liane Morris

Letting Go Explored Through Dance


Catapult Dance Choreographic Hub Newcastle is a contemporary dance and multi-arts organisation that offers residencies as part of its Propel program. The residencies are offered to emerging and mid-career artists to foster artistic interchange and link artists in capital cities with artists based in the Hunter.

 

This August, Catapult welcomes Jasmin Sheppard to a three-week residency to develop material for a full-length dance work premiering in 2023. Jasmin Sheppard is a contemporary dancer, choreographer and director, and a Tagalaka Aboriginal woman with Irish, Chinese and Hungarian ancestry. Jasmin spent 12 years at Bangarra Dance Theatre as one of their lead performers, has been nominated for and won various awards and has directed and choreographed major dance works within Australia and overseas to critical acclaim.


Jasmin will be working with professional artists Alexandra Ford, Shana O’Brien, Kyle Ramboyong and Jack Tuckerman to develop the work.


We caught up with Jasmin to ask her about her process.


How does the process work?

I begin with a rough idea of themes and images I’d like to explore. Then as collaboration begins to unfold with the dancers, those elements grow. I work with many long improvisational sessions, then pull out the magic parts of those sessions and build upon them.


What themes will you be working with?

I recently lost my grandmother, and I felt compelled to explore what we leave behind when we leave this place - and what objects and people we carry along with us and have to let go of.


As First Nations people, I think we deeply recognise this attachment to people, places and things through our cultural practice of not naming those recently passed or sharing their image or voice. This is to assist them in letting go of the things of this place, so their journey back to the Dreaming is less inhibited.


Do you include non-indigenous dancers and themes since leaving Bangarra?

Yes, as an artist of mixed heritage, I do enjoy exploring a wide range of ideas and concepts. I also work with a wide range of people from many different cultural backgrounds. There’s so much to learn from each other.


How important is the work of Catapult?

As an artist based on the Central Coast, Catapult is my nearest professional choreographic space, so I can be at home and

be working creatively. The organisation is vital to the region and the vibrancy of work available to artists of the area.


What are the core messages you are trying to convey with your work?

I like to explore the dark and murky parts of Australia’s shared history and the impacts of colonisation on First Nations people and immigrants who arrived here under the White Australia Policy. I have done my job when audience members leave more enlightened and educated on the truth of the foundations of this country. Knowing these truths is a right for all Australians.


At the end of the development process, there will be a showing and an artist Q&A at Catapult on 19 and 20 August @ 7:30pm. Visit www.catapultdance.com.au for more information (tickets at the door).

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