Q and A with Emma Fishwick

Primarily trained in contemporary dance, Emma Fishwick has evolved an interdisciplinary practice that spans dance, text, sculpture, drawing, video & sound.

Her choreographic research explores creative lineage, choreographed landscapes, transformation of space/place, and encouraging ‘uncertainty’ as an artistic method. All forms intersect & inform one another to remove hierarchy between mediums.

Emma’s practice questions whether dance can achieve the often-complex connections between the human and non-human, working across multiple mediums/ practices including movement, photography, film, scenography, and scholarship.

In 2022, Emma was invited to be  Co3 Contemporary Dance’s IN.RESIDENCE artist. The IN.RESIDENCE program allows Perth’s leading choreographers space for reflection, reinvention, and presentation. Beginning this month, research and development for From Here, Together will begin and culminate in a development showing later next month. From Here, Together unpacks the out-takes Fishwick’s 2021 Perth Festival commission, Slow Burn, Together. What was discarded becomes new again in an upcycling of choreographic intent and a redirection of the original.

We were lucky enough to ask Emma a few questions about her practice and latest work.

Emma Fishwick is a choreographer and artist who lives and works on Whadjuk Noongar Boodja, Western Australia.

From Here, Together  – image by Emma Fishwick

What ideas or themes are you thinking of revisiting in From Here, Together?

If the reading of a picture needs a very long time, can the same be said for the experience and interpretation of movement, space, and choreographic process? This is where this development will begin. From Here, Together will unpack and question how the discarded material from Slow Burn, Together can be redirected and expanded upon.

Slow Burn, Together had a strong focus on time and the temporal reframing of imagery from the Western Canon of Visual Art. Gender, power and labour will again be explored in From Here, Together, but now with a view towards the future and space. Some questions we will work from are; how do we perceive current and future spaces? Who gets to occupy and define these spaces and what happens to the things excluded or left behind

What is your experience of creative collaborations?

Working with other artists is integral to dance as an artform. I believe as a choreographer you are the measure of those you work with, your dancers first and foremost are the most vital collaborators. For in the end, they are the ones that absorb and perform what you make. I have noticed that I as I get deeper into my practice, I work responsively to individuals I have in the room, they are the “paint” I get to work with, which includes not only their physical body but them as a holistic entity; full of lived experiences and knowledges that I do not have.

Working with an ensemble of collaborators from different artistic disciplines has always been significant to my practice, I think this is since I work across a few artforms myself. When working with artists or designers it is a process of response and translation between us. As each collaborator has a different way of seeing, moving, and talking about not only their own artform, but also dance. We then work together to build a shared dialogue and understanding. And it’s in that process that I often find my understanding of dance and choreographic process is challenged, expanding what is possible, which is incredibly enriching.

Slow Burn, Together – image by Christophe Canato

What can audiences expect to experience from this showing?

You might see costume changes, blue horizons, guinea fowls and objects from an era gone by. You’ll definitely see dancing. Co3’s IN.RESIDENCE program enables From Here, Together the unique opportunity to share with the audience whilst it is still in a state of evolution. Something that is not often possible on this scale within independent contemporary dance practice. As a showing, audiences will be able to reflect on what the work makes them see and feel, they will also be able share their questions with myself and the performers. Who knows maybe you’ll have a hand in how the work turns out!

Ultimately, the showing can offer a moment to be drawn into a world, where you can see things evolve in front of you. I hope it offers people the chance to put attention to the associations they form when they watch the images in each scene and how that extends to their view of the world. I hope the audience finds the usefulness of staying longer with images and thoughts, as a way to question things around us – ideas, ideologies, and histories.

Slow Burn, Together – image by Christophe Canato

How do you personally define contemporary choreography? Who are the iconic dance makers that have influenced your approach to creating work?

For me the way I perceive, and approach choreography and contemporary dance is always evolving, it is not a fixed relationship. Perhaps this is because of the nature of the artform itself, its role is to ebb and flow with us, to be a vessel for reflection and expression. At present, I find that choreography and contemporary dance is something that stems from bodily practices and various creative histories, and when in the act of making, watching, or performing there is an exchange between the theoretical, the cultural, the political and the personal. All these factors are at play in the process of meaning making and the individual has the choice to take what they need from it.

This entangled view of choreography and contemporary dance is something that comes from being informed by a lineage of dance makers and scholars, some whom I have studied from afar and those who I have the fortune to have in the room with me.

Some of the notable influences are Pina Bausch, Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, Mette Ingvartsen, to Dimitris Papaioannou. But most impactful have been those closer to home; Rosalind Crisp, Vicki Van Hout, Michael Whaites, Sue Peacock, Dr Jo Pollitt, Laura Boynes, and Isabella Stone and more. Each has a different impact at different times, challenging my understanding of what’s possible as an independent maker.

Slow Burn, Together – image by Christophe Canato

EMMA FISHWICK IS THE 2022 IN.RESIDENCE ARTIST AS PART OF THE PATHWAYS PROGRAM. SUPPORTED BY WRIGHT BURT FOUNDATION, PERFORMING LINES WA AND CITY OF PERTH.

TICKETS TO “FROM HERE, TOGETHER” ARE ON SALE NOW. BOOK HERE.

Emma Fishwick is a choreographer and artist who lives and works on Whadjuk Noongar Boodja, Western Australia. She is an Honours graduate in Dance and LINK (2010) and holds a Master of Arts (Performing Arts) in 2019 from WAAPA and been an Associate Artist with Co3 Contemporary Dance Australia. Emma is currently a PhD Candidate at Edith Cowan University exploring art as a consciousness-raising tool.

 

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