Caetlyn Watson X Marko Panzic | The Dream Dance Company's GODDESS
This Friday will mark the debut of The Dream Dance Company’s fifth and most ambitious season to date, with Founder and Director Marko Panzic uniting with extraordinary Australian talent Caetlyn Watson to bring audiences ‘GODDESS’. A wholly immersive, genre-warping experience brought to life by a cast of fiercely distinctive artists. And with notably different venues set for each leg of the tour, not only does this season promise to be a departure from every season before it, but each performance will stand on its own as a singular phenomenon. Tickets are currently on sale for Perth and Sydney tour dates, kicking off in Perth on May 17th. And with Melbourne’s leg of the show already sold out and only one or two performances per state, we anticipate that remaining tickets won’t last long.
If any show deserves a spot on your 2019 must-watch list, it’s impossible to overlook GODDESS. Impressively unique, not just in performance, casting, genre or format, but a completely original approach to every aspect of the creative process and a genuine vested interest in supporting Australia’s dancers - something that has been a driving force throughout the evolution of the Company from the outset. “I think my main vision for the Dream from day one was to shine a spotlight on Australian dancers,” explains Founder and Director Marko Panzic, “we have some of the worlds’ best talent in our country and we don't celebrate the commercial artists in Australia enough. There is a huge platform and respect for Ballet and Contemporary locally, but the commercial world gets very little recognition and support from the government. My aim is to continue highlighting our commercial dance scene and building a community that is educated and want to keep expanding the arts world in Australia, and we can only do this together, through supporting and celebrating one another.” It’s safe to say that with the incredibly unique Watson on board as this year’s homegrown choreographer and a cast of ‘misfits’ (in the best possible sense of the word) we’re looking forward to a performance that celebrates artistic diversity, disrupts expectations and deviates from the conventional at every chance it gets.
We recently introduced you to this year’s phenomenal cast (see their interviews here), so we thought it was high time to share our talk with GODDESS choreographer Caetlyn Watson, and Artistic Director Marko Panzic, where we chatted about the vision for this season and what audiences can look forward to from experiencing the show live. See their interviews below.
E: Caetlyn, can you tell us about your background and how you got involved with dance to begin with?
CW: I started ballet when I was three or four. I feel like every little girl goes into ballet. And then I started getting more into music, I was surrounded by music my entire childhood; my grandparents were musicians so there was constantly music playing. It was natural for me to dance. I was inspired by music videos of artists like Missy Elliot, and so I went to some jazz and tap classes and just kept building my way up from there. I started dancing in Melbourne, and then later, when I moved to Brisbane I was exposed to more international instructors. I got to learn from a lot of people coming over from the states and on tours and so on, so that inspired me a lot.
I then did two years of full-time dance at DLDC in Brisbane, and after that I just started travelling. I think that exposed me to so much, that’s where a lot of growth happened too. Getting to see so many different communities and people, and being exposed to the kind of situations that force you to grow – the travelling had such a big impact on my dancing in so many ways. And then teaching kind of came out of nowhere, and that’s really what I’ve been doing until this opportunity came up.
E: And how did the opportunity to choreograph for The Dream come about?
CW: I met Marko doing a teaching job together. I’ve always been familiar with Marko and his company and everything he’s been involved with in the Australian community. I think we were brought closer in the past few years through mutual friends, and mutual jobs. I actually hadn’t worked with him ever before though, until he approached me about choreographing this season. And I was just so down, oh my god. I’m so incredibly thankful for him, and his belief in my work – and giving me such an incredible platform. This is massive, it’s something I’ve dreamed of for so long.
MP: I have been a HUGE fan of Caetlyn Watson for many years. Caetlyn has created a style that is so unique and so inspiring, she’s sending waves throughout not only Australia, but the world. I remember chatting to Caetlyn and saying how would you feel about choreographing a show. She was instantly on board, she was nervous and excited, but was ready for the challenge.
E: Can you share what inspired the creative concept for the show this season?
MP: When I watch Caetlyn and her work, I ultimately always have the feeling that what she represents is truly ‘GODDESS’ like. I love the power of women, and I love creating a platform for women in this industry which is so heavily filled with male creatives and choreographers. I feel the female power in dance is something that has always inspired the movement in dance. I couldn't think of a better choreographer in Australia right now, that is creating such a platform for Australians not only here on our own shores, but internationally. Caetlyn is respected by dancers from all over the world and I am so proud of what she has achieved and so excited to shine a spotlight on her here in Australia. Can't wait to celebrate this incredible talent and bring her visions to life!
CW: More so than anything I wanted to shine a light on how powerful female energy is, and how it compliments and is uplifted by male energy. How powerful, how soft, how ferocious, how strong we can be. I feel like women are often viewed as a more docile energy, whereas I feel like we can be just as powerful as a male energy, if not more powerful. I also wanted to give people their own platform to tell their individual stories. Everyone in this cast has such a strong story and character and something significant to say. I’ve been given that opportunity by Marko, and I wanted to give them that opportunity too. It really is like a group of misfits, and they’re just going to embrace a little weirdness. That’s my favourite thing about dance, and people; everyone is so unique and each person in this cast has really taken hold of everything they are and their own essence. It’s going to be such an incredible collaboration between everyone.
E: Caetlyn, what’s the most rewarding and the most challenging part of the choreographic process for you?
CW: Definitely seeing everything come to life. That’s the most rewarding part. It’s one thing to have an idea, but to really see it grow and blossom in front of you is really special, it’s like magic. And to be able to work with people who really get what you’re trying to do and have a clear vision of what you’re trying to express is just the coolest thing. Getting to share that creative space with these other artists is so cool, they’re just beautiful. The most challenging part of making GODDESS for me is definitely the process of coming up with so much content, that’s something I’ve never been exposed to before. It’s quite new to me. So this process is going to be really demanding, but in a such a good way. I’m very excited for it, even though I know it’s going to be intense! I’m a perfectionist too, so I want everything to be a specific way, and perfect by my standards – but it’s going to be sick! I’m excited for the whole process.
E: What qualities were you drawn towards in the dancers cast for GODDESS?
MP: This project is very special. The Dream has always been a company that changes and grows year by year. The Dream’s mission for 2019 was to shine a spotlight on new, exciting and unique talent. I feel there is such a shift in dance in Australia, audiences and dancers are ready to celebrate artists that don't fit the normal definitions of a dancer. I really wanted to celebrate creatives that are different and one of a kind. The audition was HUGE, the talent in the room was INCREDIBLE and everyone was pushed and challenged by the inspiring choreography of Caetlyn. The cast was selected based on how they could adapt and take on Caetlyn's intricate choreography. I really feel we have made a positive change in our casting. A lot of auditions are run based on fitting a mould, a specific look, a certain body type, and other extraneous factors. Our casting process was the opposite, we seek out diversity, we celebrate differences and individuality. This is something I really feel will inspire dancers when they witness the show. The Dream wants to make positive change and create opportunities based on TALENT and what YOU can bring to the industry.
E: How would you describe your style of movement Caetlyn?
CW: It’s very fluid. And using the space in a fluent way feels so good to me. I’m super inspired by water. I think that fluidity stems a little from ballet and certain styles I learnt when I first started dancing, and that translates into my movement now. My own style is more interpretive than anything and doesn’t fit into a hip hop or contemporary style.
E: This season of the Dream promises to be as unique as each season before it – and even more so with every venue offering an adaptive, unrepeated performance - what can audiences look forward to from the live experience of GODDESS?
MP: I think mainly audiences can expect something new and innovative from the Dream! Every year we continue to try and change the perception of the company and this year we really wanted to push the envelope and give our audiences a whole new experience. Our audience will experience an intimate feel in unique and thrilling spaces, choreography and creativity on a whole new level and a cast that is exceptionally diverse and inspiring.
E: This is also the company’s first time touring to Melbourne! This season seems like a particularly perfect fit for the Melbourne premiere with both Watson as Choreographer and Jayden Lewis Wall as a cast-member. Is this part of the reason you decided to bring the Dream to Victorian audiences this year?
MP: The Dream has wanted to come to Melbourne for years now, we really want to bridge the gap between Sydney and Melbourne. Our commercial scene is so similar, but still Melbourne and Sydney feel so disconnected from each other. I really want the Dream to create a bridge and start to develop and create new ventures in Melbourne. We are so lucky to have two incredible talents representing the Melbourne dance community Caetlyn Watson and Jayden Wall. We invite all of Melbourne to come and witness this special dance company, with Melbourne's support the more professional opportunities we can build together. Melbourne trains and develops some of the top talent in Australia, we hope this is just the beginning of The Dream Dance Co coming to Melbourne!
E: Do you have any advice to offer aspiring dancers or choreographers out there?
CW: I could say a lot. The main thing for me is to stay true to yourself. A lot of people aspire to be someone who already exists as opposed to finding their own strengths and their own truths and feelings to create from. That’s one thing I think I can say has got me this far; I’ve stayed true to myself and authentic to what feels right for me. And when you do that, and you stay honest then it’s going to attract so much more than you trying to be this other person that’s already out there. Naturally we get inspired by people who are popular, and successful, but they already exist. So why not fight for your own platform and your own voice?
E: As Founder and Artistic Director, how has the process and evolution of the fifth season of the Dream been to create so far, Marko?
MP: The process has been really special. Caetlyn is such a dream to work with. Her mind, creativity and work ethic is unbelievable. The way Caetlyn hears and visualises music and movement is like no other. The process has been super smooth and easy to create because Caetlyn's vision is so strong and unique. Caetlyn knows what she wants and I love the power and belief she has in her vision. Having a choreographer who's vision is so strong makes my role a lot easier to navigate and create this show.
E: What inspires you as a choreographer Caetlyn?
CW: Definitely the music, I feel like the music inspires everything: the feel, the mood, the vision. And then the movement comes afterwards. Then it all just connects together when I have people standing in front of me who I know will really register and take on board what I’m trying to do. That’s why this show is just going to be so incredibly special.
The Dream Dance Company is proudly sponsored by Energetiks
Article and photography by Elly Ford.