Art Radar Asia interviews FCP artist couple, Tun Win Aung and Wah Nu – find out more in the Impact of FCP 2013!
Rachael Swain is a founder and Co-artistic Director of Stalker Theatre, based in Sydney. She has pioneered challenging new approaches to Australian Physical Theatre, drawing on experimental dance and multi media practices and processes -often incorporating large scale installations in a variety of alternative locations nationally and internationally. Rachael co-devised and performed in each of Stalker’s early ground breaking street theatre productions, which toured extensively throughout Australia, Europe, Asia and Latin America from 1989 to 1995. In 1995 Rachael began conceiving, directing and co choreographing Stalker’s large scale, interdisciplinary dance theatre productions including Blood Vessel (1998), Incognita (2003), and the Chinese Australian martial arts thriller Shanghai Lady Killer (2010), co created with Tony Ayres. These productions were all commissioned by Australian national festivals and toured extensively internationally.
Rachael is also a founder and co artistic director of Marrugeku based in Broome, Western Australia. Marrugeku is an intercultural and interdisciplinary company working with remote community based Indigenous dancers, musicians, and story keepers in collaboration with non-Indigenous dancers. Rachael has collaborated closely with Indigenous artists such as painter and storyman Thompson Yulidjirri, dancer and choreographer Dalisa Pigram, filmmaker Warwick Thornton and West African choreographer Serge Aimé Coulibaly to create distinctive contemporary cross-cultural productions for Marrugeku. Rachael has produced, facilitated and directed each of Marrugeku’s productions, created over lengthy periods in situ in remote communities, including Mimi (1996), Crying Baby (2000), Burning Daylight (2006) and Buru (2010) performed by 10 young people from Broome and the upcoming Gudirr Gudirr, choreographed by Koen Augustijnen and Dalisa Pigram.
Rachael has a Doctorate of Philosophy, Melbourne University (2010) and a practice based Masters in Advanced Theatre and Dance Research (99-02) Das Arts, Hogeschool voor de Kunsten, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. She has a Postgraduate Diploma in Film and Video production (2001), UTS, Sydney and a theoretical Masters of Arts in Performance Studies (97–99), Sydney University. In 1995 she was a guest student at The European Dance Development Centre in Arnhem, The Netherlands. Rachael left her home of New Zealand to undertake a Diploma of Dramatic Arts at The Drama Action Centre, Sydney (86/87).
In 2006 Rachael was commissioned by the European Capital of Culture, Liverpool 08, to conceive and design an urban dance project with young people in port cities. She worked extensively with dancers, rappers and graffiti artists from the Toxteth community in Liverpool and immigrant communities in Marseilles, France to create the contemporary street dance work SUGAR. SUGAR reflects the contemporary experience of young people in port cities and filters it with the history of the slave trade. Sugar premiered in Liverpool in June 2007
She co conceived, designed and directed the video installation proXy with New York based Brazilian writer and dramaturge André Lepecki. This was a large-scale multi screen work conceived and shot in New York in the weeks following September 11. In 2005/06 Rachael wrote and produced three short Asian Indigenous Westerns Stir Fry, Black Pearl and Troubled Waters shot and directed by Warwick Thornton and set in old Broome. She wrote and was associate producer for the documentary following the development of a new contemporary Asian Indigenous dance language in the process of making Burning Daylight. The documentary was commissioned by ABC, AFC and Screen West and screened in 2007.
Rachael has curated a series of international Indigenous cultural exchange laboratories (IICL) for Marrugeku exploring new cultural pathways to contemporary Indigenous choreographic practices with choreographers from Australia, New Zealand, Papua, Burkina Faso and Congo. (IICL1 Sydney 2009; IICL2 Broome 2010; IICL3 Auckland 2011). ICL4 will take place in Toronto in early 2014.
In 2011 Rachael was awarded a Cultural Leaders grant by the Australia Council for the Arts and The Phillip Parsons Prize 2011 for Excellence in Performance as Research by The Australasian Association for Theatre Drama and Performance Studies (ADSA).