interview with kristy ayre.

Monday 15 August 2011

Kristy Ayre is a contemporary dancer who has performed extensively with arguably Australia's most successful contemporary dance company, Chunky Move. Her list of performances include Mortal Engine, Tense Dave, I Like This and the solo, Glow. I urge you to watch this clip of Glow which is one of my favourite YouTube clips of all time. She's also worked with Lucy Guerin, Luke George and Shelley Lasica and has toured globally. Suffice to say, she's one of the best contemporary dancers this country has to offer.

Kristy in Chunky Move's Glow. Photograph by Arthur Radeki.
I met Kristy a few years ago through public classes at Chunky Move. Since then, her palpable passion for teaching mixed with a boundless supply of energy, enthusiasm, knowledge, support and encouragement have quickly turned her into one of my key dance mentors.

She is also one of the six outrageously talented choreographers that I'm so honoured to be working with as part of Homemade Dance Collective (more on that another time). Last month we had our creative development sessions with Kristy, so what better time than now to make space on my blog for this amazing teacher of mine.

Kristy in Chunky Move's Glow. Photograph by Arthur Radeki.

I managed to steal a bit of time from Kristy's busy schedule for an interview to talk about teaching, the use of visuals in dance and a peek into what lies ahead:

Why do you teach?
I really enjoy being able to pass on my years of dance education to others. I love seeing how contemporary dance can be accessible to anyone who is interested in investing time into it. Teaching makes me simultaneously feel joyous, energized, exhausted but overall, I find the exchange of giving and receiving most rewarding. I like to think we are all teachers and students of each other and the only difference between me and the class participants is that I happen to make up the steps and therefore choose all the things I like doing!  

Kristy in Chunky Move's Glow. Photograph by Arthur Radeki.
Where do you get ideas for the visual cues you give us in class?
These concepts are combinations of things I've learnt or, have discovered myself, through my own dance practice. It's very important to me that I teach from a very honest and earnest place and I feel uncomfortable trying to teach anything that I don't think works or can't be accessed by other people. Imagery has always worked quite well for me as a dancer in finding new and interesting ways to move and how that informs the way you make decisions about choreography. This is something I like to include in my classes to share with the participants. 

Kristy in Chunky Move's Glow. Photograph by Arthur Radeki.
In both Mortal Engine and Glow, some of the visual cues that you talk about were literally projected onto you. What did that feel like, as the performer?
I always like to answer this question (as i've been asked this many times!) in the suggestion that Glow (specifically) feels more like a duet rather than a solo and the non-human partner is the light. 
There are varying moments in that work where there is an exchange of who is driving whom and with the work being sensor driven, this very much keeps the performance fresh and always slightly different from the previous. That said, the work is completely set but because the light and sound cannot exist without the dancers body, the dancer is ultimately in control of this work. 
You can absolutely see the lights and you are physically making them move and at times being very direct about that relationship. It actually is great fun and and a real privilege to work with such sophisticated technology.
Chunky Move's Mortal Engine. Photograph by Gaye Gerard/Getty images via LIFE
Have you any thoughts on the recent appointment of Anouk van Dijk as the new creative director of Chunky Move in 2012?
I met Anouk at the American Dance Festival in 2005 and took class with her. She is a fabulous teacher and I think the Melbourne dance community will benefit from having her as a significant part of the scene. That said, I am a little concerned there was no other Australian candidate deemed worthy enough for this position. There are some extremely fine up and coming Australian choreographers and I really look forward to them hitting their strides over the coming years. Stay tuned!!

Kristy in Luke George's Lifesize. Photographs by Belinda from via The Australian Stage.

Kristy in Luke George's NOWNOWNOW. Photograph by Jeff Busby. 

What's in the pipeline?

This year I have taken on an Associate Producer position with Next Wave and will be working toward the Festival in 2012. Some very exciting times ahead with that.
Also more immediately, I will be performing with Chunky Move in Sydney at Spring Dance, Brisbane Festival and Dublin Fringe then rounding out the year with a very special one-off show at the New York City State Library in November in a new work choreographed by Lee Serle. Hopefully this piece will be re-worked and performed here in Melbourne in 2012.. again.. stay tuned!

Kristy with Lee Serle in Mortal Engine. Photographs by Gaye Gerard/Getty images via LIFE

If you're interested in doing public classes at Chunky Move, you can find the class timetable here

Big thanks to Kristy for taking the time to do my Q&A and thanks also to Amanda from Chunky Move for supplying the images for Glow.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I feel like applauding out of happiness! Such a generous and beautiful dancer and teacher.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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