Jade Dewi Tyas Tunggal + female dancers

Jade Dewi Tyas Tunggal is one of the 4 choreographers of Me Right Now. She is a freelance dance artist from New South Wales, and has extensive performing experience, starting in her high school years at the Newtown Performing Arts School. This gives her a particular understanding of the group of young female dancers she is working with in Canberra for her piece in Me Right Now “All to get her”. She has created and toured works in Australia, the US, Taiwan, Europe, and New Zealand, and it’s her first time choreographing for Quantum Leap. I catch up with Jade at the Bungendore Woodworks Cafe as she gives me a snapshot of where her work is up to mid-way through her intensive rehearsal period.

“All to get her” is a new dance work that reveals the vulnerability, fragility, resistance and strength of each female dancer and the unique beauty of their dancing bodies. There are many dynamics to explore within a group of young women when they are isolated and together, and I have played with some of these to create the movement and tensions in the piece. For example, in the studio we have been exploring the binaries of friends and enemies, manipulation and negotiation, chaos and responsibility. We have also looked at the ‘discrimination games’ that girls play like blindfolding, charades, spinning, skipping and bull rush and turning them into a starting point for choreography.

I started imaging the piece by responding to the provocations from Me Right Now dramaturg Pascal Berry. The piece has been evolving organically, but certain elements needed to be set before I could be in the studio with the dancers, like the score, and the video content which will be projected behind the dancers. I shared my ideas for music with composer Adam Ventoura, costume ideas with Ruth and Rose, and have been sharing my ideas and intentions with the dancers. At every stage there is experimentation and collaboration. There’s a lot of weaving and collaging of the material which gives it layers of transformation as it morphs into a finished piece.

There is a broad range of experience in the Quantum Leap ensemble.  I am working with a group of young women, and two of the dancers have their BFA in Dance from WAAPA.  Their choreographic and performance experience is a wonderful resource for the challenging physicality and experimental nature of my creative process.  Also in rehearsals their professional attitude and confidence has been valuable influence that has affected the swift development and continual improvement of the younger dancers. Teaching and rehearsing idiosyncratic, Indonesian dance and Kiryuho inspired movement material that is foreign and new movement for all the dancers.  It is wonderful to witness their physical transformation as they emerge out of their self doubt to fully embody the moment and feel confident with their dancing.

“All To Get Her” has been a rich and valuable experience for me as a choreographer. I’m curious as to whether my working process and outcome with Quantum Leap can be a presentation of rites of passage – Dance as celebration, dance as defence and dance as mindful expression. These are themes I am exploring in my new dance OPAL VAPOUR (that will premier at the Malthouse Theatre in Melbourne in September/October 2012) and the creative inquiry is motivated by addressing the loss of meaningful ritual and ceremony in contemporary society. I am sharing with these young dancers my own personal experience as a professional dance artist trained in dance from a young age, the choreographic process of improvisations. Processes such as composing movement phrases, refining imagery and intentions towards a performance outcome develop the young dancers’ confidence to remove the amour of doubt and find stillness with a direct gaze and connection with the audience. Through sharing and teaching, I develop my understanding of what I do.

‘All to get her’ is the first time some of these dancers in this work will perform on a main stage theatre. All the dancers will be responsible for the dance – I will be very proud of their ownership because the work is about them and what they have put in the process. During production week the performance will be taken up to next level. The high quality production elements of the professional theatre – Lighting, costume, massive sound system, video projection, big black stage… The most important thing is the  energy of the audience and each of the dancers connecting with their attention to sharing the personal story of this universal dance.


Thanks Jade for sharing your thoughts and reflections, and we are looking forward to seeing your work in Me Right Now. (Remember to book now as the show opens in just under 3 weeks!) Thanks to Leo Meredith for the video which accompanies this interview.