We are excited to present our current Room to Move Residency artist Michaela Ottone, an emerging local dancer, choreographer, photographer and life model based in Naarm/Melbourne.
The residency program offers the dance studio at STACC at no charge for individual artists and small collectives for training, rehearsal, and/or experimentation. An opportunity that suits dancers, choreographers, physical theatre artists, and other body/movement based artists with $500 rewarded towards project costs.
Whilst completing her Bachelor and Honours in Creative Arts (Dance) at university Michaela studied photography. She aims to capture vulnerability, intimacy and connection amongst humans, animals, and communities through social documentary and portrait photography.
Michaela shares her skills, experiences as independent dance artists during the Covid-19 pandemic and the opportunities 2022 will have in store for her. She is excited to return to the STACC dance studio and have dedicated time and space to test out some ideas that have been brewing for a while.
Photo credit: 'Solo Works I' at Dancehouse 2021 by Devika Bilimoria
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your creative arts practice?
I am an emerging dancer, choreographer, photographer and life model based in Naarm/Melbourne. My solo dance improvisation practice uses tools or ideas that I call scores. Attention is at the forefront to all of these scores. Some of these include:
• Embodying emotions such as frustration and despair, amongst others. I allow the memory of circumstances that affect me emotionally, such as the climate crisis, to provide muscular tones and textures to my dancing, so that they can be acknowledged and incorporated instead of being debilitating.
• Spatial structures that emerge in real-time that I use to frame my work, such as repeating choreographic elements (like speed, rhythm, etc) in a particular place in the studio.
• Exploring my range by imagining choreographic elements to exist on a spectrum. I am interested in what happens when I explore the range of this spectrum, what it can shift in my dancing, and what research it can lead to.
How have independent dance artists like yourself been impacted by the pandemic?
It's been extremely difficult for a lot of independent dance artists during the pandemic. Many dancers had their entire year of work dry up due to the ongoing lockdowns and border closures, and were not eligible for Jobseeker or Jobkeeper... that on top of parents having to juggle remote learning. Ironically, the artists fortunate enough to receive government payments, including myself, were only eligible because of the casual side jobs we have to do to be able to survive working in the arts. The pandemic did however give space to reflect with other artists on what needs to change in the dance sector, and allowed time to share these reflections with arts organisations, which has been mutually beneficial. I also found that experience enabled a breaking down of hierarchies, and led to a stronger and more supportive dance community in Melbourne. We also really missed physical touch!
What are you looking forward to most about getting back into the STACC dance studio?
I'm excited to have dedicated time and space to test out some ideas that have been brewing for a little while. I'll be building on my solo practice and continue to look at embodying different emotions, while layering spatial structures. I'm also keen to draw from some literature, such as Clementine Ford's feminist writing.
What creative opportunities are you looking forward to in 2022?
This year I’m excited to continue developing my solo dance practice, with support from Regional Arts Victoria's Sustaining Creative Worker’s grant through the Room to Move Artist Residency, rehearse for ‘Maloya ‘Moshpit’ with Punctum, Muriel Hillion and musician Justin Marshall to be performed at Castlemaine State Festival 2023, create the album art for EP 'Deep Rock' by Y.os’, a spoken word artist, with beats by Bonnaz and Flytramp, perform at STACC's 'Be Bold' festival, and link an online shop to my photography website, amongst other opportunities to come.