INTERVIEW: Chrissie Parrott for Reason for Being

This week we have guest artist Chrissie Parrott working with Co3 Artistic Director Raewyn Hill and dancers in development in the concourse of the Art Gallery of WA for our first Reason for Being in 2017.

Chrissie will be working with company dancers Mitch, Russell, Zachary, Talitha, Ella-Rose and Tanya to develop her work ELK.

We spoke to Chrissie about developing new work and being in such a unique and exposed environment.


Tell us a bit about your choreographic process.

I approach it with the term ‘landscape of the imagination’, this is the term I use for my creative process and I invite the performers into a holographic situation in the studio where everybody has their own story going on within a very abstract work, which is a non-narrative.

I have, with this process, used some text that we draw upon to create some of those holographic images. I’ve also used a number of paintings from Antipodean artists as imagery; we use those as references for another layer of narrative, but above and beyond all those things I am working particularly on something that is the obverse, or the out-of-scene, or the obscene. For example, when you’re looking at a painting, particularly a narrative painting, there’s always the edge of the painting where there’s a tree going off, or half a house. I like to work on what happens outside of the scene, we talk about that being the other side of the painting or the back story, the outside of the frame.


What can the audience expect from you and the dancers?

What we create for an audience is a sense of a narrative, although there’s not a beginning, middle and end to it so it’s a kind of pseudo-narrative. Created as part of the internal logic on stage.

It sounds quite schizophrenic because there are many, many layers and I find by being quite clear with the performers in the beginning that I will be presenting them with these ideas as we go. That literally creates the hologram and the pseudo-narrative around a purely abstract piece of movement.


How do you work with the dancers during the development of a piece?

I work very closely with them when exploring ideas. I’m not necessarily the type of choreographer that on one hand says ‘please do this’ and on the other hand leaves them to their own devices too much; I like to work with them hand-in-hand in the process. No matter what style of choreography, there’s always that interpretation and input from the performers but we work really closely together on the final motifs that are then left in the painting.


How do you feel about working in the concourse of the Art Gallery of Western Australia? 

I think it’s very exciting. It doesn’t daunt me necessarily because I believe that the type of work we’re doing is very focused on that internal logic, when we’re on the floor we’re very internalised and work closely together, so the fact that people are there is important to see the process. But as far as we’re concerned the audience around won’t distract us, particularly during the rehearsals.

I think it’s important because in a way it’s privileging your audience to your process, rather than just seeing it beautifully packaged at the end which I think is a wonderful opportunity for sharing.


Catch Chrissie, Raewyn and the dancers at the Art Gallery of WA from Wednesday 1 – Saturday 4 February, 10am – 4.30pm with the final showing Saturday 3pm – 4pm.


Chrissie Parrott is a multi awarded creative artist whose career spans over four decades. Chrissie’s contribution to contemporary dance-associated arts has been significantly acknowledged by the Sidney Myer Performing Arts Award, Swan Gold Award Sounds Australia Award, Western Australian Citizen of the Year 2000, Golden Key for high achievers, USA and a Centenary Medal. In 2014 she was awarded a lifetime achievement award though Ausdance WA. In 2015 she was honoured as a State Living Treasure.

Read more about ELK here.