November 25, 2022

TROIS 2.0 – Gabrielle Nankivell evokes the incandescent darkness

Have you ever wondered how the multi-dimensional beauty of dance comes together, with performers, visuals and music flowing in perfect harmony? Dancer and choreographer Gabrielle Nankivell is about to share her secrets with you (without spoiling the magic).

Gabrielle is currently in the midst of preparation for the second incarnation of “THREE” by the Australasian Dance Collective (ADC). His piece, “The Incandescent Dark,” will appear alongside works by two other famous choreographers – Cass Mortimer Eipper and Kate Harman.

Gabrielle is a huge fan of Cass and Kate, and the realms they will lead audiences to. “Each artist has a unique voice and different ways of working,” says Gabrielle. “The program as a whole is truly captivating as it takes you through a varied and vast imaginative landscape.”

Cass has described her work as fun, energetic and particular, while Kate’s has a more meditative and poetic vibe. For her part, Gabrielle draws the audience into a world created collaboratively by the performers; a place that, in Gabrielle’s words, is “atmospheric and a bit emotionally intriguing”.

Image © Jade Ferguson @ Society of Visual Poets

It’s also quite unique to this particular constellation of artists.

“Doing a performance always feels like a kind of alchemy. I take the performers through specific guided improvisation at the start, and then we gradually expand that, working with photographs and memories of people, places, and times, trying to recreate that sense of connection to those things.

The performance plays in the swirling stream of emotions that pass through us as we think of people we’ve known or flip through dusty photo albums. Although this realm hangs midway between fiction and reality, it’s a place we all regularly visit in our minds, which makes the performance enchanting yet relatable, fantastical yet deeply familiar.

A significant part of that chemistry Gabrielle mentions comes from the rare and beautiful bond she shares with her musical collaborator, Luke Smiles. The two worked together for about 15 years, and the way Gabrielle explains it, he’s like a secret extra performer on stage.

JadeFergusonVisualPoetsADCT SocietyThree2
Image © Jade Ferguson @ Society of Visual Poets

“We work side by side in the studio, so to some extent Luke goes through the same process as everyone else. What he produces will affect what the performers do and vice versa.

This longtime relationship allowed them to seamlessly collaborate on “The Incandescent Dark,” even though they had to work remotely (there was a pandemic to contend with).

“We can finish each other’s sentences, we’ve worked so hard together,” laughs Gabrielle. And the truth of that sentiment shines through in the productions they’ve created over the years. There is no sense of separation between the dancers and the soundscape. As an audience member, it feels like the sounds, visuals, and movement are one continuous event from a single source.

This magic seems to be a natural by-product of the collaborative creative process, a practice Gabrielle says is nurtured by the Australasian Dance Collective. “There is a real shared philosophy of doing this thing together and dismantling the ancient hierarchies that often exist within organizations. But at the same time, ADC has the structure, governance and resources of a business. It has the potential to be the best of both worlds, and that’s an exciting thing to be a part of.

‘THREE 2.0’ plays July 13-16 at the Brisbane Powerhouse.