In Conversation with Liesel Zink

Recently choreographer and performer Liesel Zink completed a creative development of her new work Us and All of This at Home of The Arts on the Gold Coast. This monumental new work is a collaboration with sound artist Lawrence English, and sees Liesel work with a number of lead artists and volunteers. In this most recent development there were 18 creatives working to realise this ambitious project and as it progresses the number of participants involved will increase exponentially. We spoke to Liesel following her creative development.

  • For the uninitiated, can you please give us a brief description of Us and All of This?

Us and All of This is a contemporary performance work made in collaboration with sound artist Lawrence English, dramaturge Martyn Coutts and many amazing contributing dancers. Developed through a series of mindful workshop and presented with over 100 dancers in the public realm, Us and All of This interrogates our relationship to the natural world, our positioning within product oriented capitalist systems, and the enduring necessity for connectivity and empathy.

I see the project as a gentle and loving act of resistance against a fast paced, human centred planet. It is so easy to get swept up by the rapid demand of productivity, overstimulation and overwhelm of media bombardment. Us and All of This is a resistance against this; a resistance against noise; a resistance against ‘snapping back to normal’. And I believe it is in this space that we will find the possibilities for new and more sensitive ways of being.

  • What do you want people to experience from your work – Us and All of This? Both audiences and participants

For audiences and participants the work offers a deep and evocative sense of connection and togetherness. Choreographically I’m interested in how a mass of individuals can unite to create a larger undulating landscape; how as a collection of human beings, we are made up of a rich tapestry of diverse backgrounds and experiences that create one larger and greater whole.

The participant experience is designed to be very loving and mindful. In this time of increased isolation and growing political division I want the project to create a space for sharing, reflection and listening. A space for deep ‘togetherness’, where we can sit in the tension of our time and build our collective compassion, strength and resilience.

  • What did you learn about the work through the development at HOTA? Were there any unexpected surprises?

In light of COVID limiting our capacity to meet in person this year, I have been deep in research mode for the project and my broader practice in general; digging into social psychology research and considering the role of art and artists during these strange times. The rigorous reading and dialogue has been really stimulating, but in terms of the physical creation of work it has been a lot of hypothesising. So it was SUCH a pleasure to get in the space with 18 brilliant collaborators at HOTA, to let the research be buzzing in the air like electricity while we reconnect with our bodies and physical existence together.

What was most exciting to me was witnessing the performers bring the project to life – I believe Us and All of This comes to life in the energy and space between the dancers, and then the energy and space between the movement and sound, and then again the energy between the movement, sound and space. I can’t wait to see how the work transcends from here.

  • Why 100? Why not 10, or 20? What do we gain through a larger crowd?

I believe there is so much power to being immersed in a large crowd. In the face of political divide and increased isolation, Us and All of This will be a reintroduction of being together and seeing each other; not just as statistics, or other, but as humans with flesh, blood, experiences, vulnerabilities, diversities and strength. It’s a visceral reminder that we are part of something larger.

  • Who was involved in your development and what experiences did they bring?

This project marks my first collaboration with sound artist Lawrence English who brings so much knowledge, experience and attention to creation of sound in space. It’s very humbling to be in his presence. It also saw me collaborate with lead artists Leah Shelton, Richard Causer, Hsin-Ju Ely and Yvonne Huang, as well as thirteen other practicing artists from a range of backgrounds (theatre, social health, opera, dance). It was a lovely opportunity to get to know artists working on the coast a little bit better – there is such a great energy in the arts scene on the Gold Coast.

I’ve also tried to navigate working with two Melbourne based artists including dramaturge Martyn Coutts (who has been an integral collaborator of mine for around 9 years now) and choreographer Josh Lowe. I miss their presence both very dearly and look forward to reconnecting with them both in the flesh soon! 

  • What is the best thing about being a choreographer? 

Sharing space and time with so many amazing human beings.

Click here to read more about Us and All of This.

Images by FenLan Chuang.

 

In everything we do, we acknowledge that we live on Aboriginal land and constantly learn from the wisdom of our First Peoples.

Where we are and the history that precedes us informs how we work and how we move forward.