INTERVIEW: Chrissie Parrott
Chrissie Parrott is a celebrated choreographer, a WA State Living Treasure and has most recently joined the Co3 team as choreographer for WA Dance Makers Project. We caught up with Chrissie to discuss some career highlights, inspirations and what audiences can expect from her latest work.
You began the development of Elk at the Art Gallery of WA last year as part of Co3’s Reason for Being project, supported by Wesfarmers Arts and Australia Council for the Arts. How much of that initial development will be in your new work (called In-Lore Act II) as part of WA Dance Makers Project?
The two creative developments were really useful for me to start the movement development process and I have retained about a third of those original movement ideas and motifs within In-Lore Act II. Each creative development I tried to start fresh, and during this final phase I’ve addressed the ‘through-lines’ and overall framework of the new work.
Having been an important and prolific Australian dance maker creating over 90 works, are there any standout moments for you? Some career highlights?
Over my long career as a dancer and choreographer, the biggest, most satisfying highlight was to have support and funding for my development as an artist and to have my own company of dancers (Chrissie Parrott Dance Collective, later renamed Chrissie Parrott Dance Company). This gave me the opportunity to fully investigate ideas and develop a style with dancers who had a close understanding of my process and ways of working creatively.
Regarding my favourite works, they would be Terra (CPDC, 1991), Terminal Velocity (CPDC, 1989) and Coppelia (West Australian Ballet, 2000)
You’ve dedicated your career to the performing arts – have your sources of inspiration for work remained consistent and threaded from one project to the next, or can you identify periods of time when you’ve been interested in different stimulus / artistic rationale?
Most of the works I have made have been driven by an interest in the ‘outsider’; that sense of looking outside the frame of situations and events, looking between the lines and finding the hidden meanings within the abstract. Underlying the outsider, is I guess, an interest in the human condition.
I did a spell where I was fortunate enough to be an Adjunct Professor at the Dance Department at QUT (Queensland University of Technology). During this time I was influenced by new technologies; motion tracking, colour tracking and the creation of 3D avatars as either motivation for new movement or as digital scenography. This work attracted many opportunities to make new works as well as large-scale artworks. I still teach these technologies and make those types of works.
Raewyn Hill (Artistic Director of Co3) chose to curate an all-female choreographic team for WA Dance Makers Project. Has this influenced what you’re making, or how you’re approaching the creative process?
I must say not specifically in regard to content or theme of this new work. However, what it does address is the overall need for major companies to watch and see the work of female theatre and dance creators. In the major companies, the lack of female representation is an issue that would benefit from discussion and more focus.
What can audiences expect from coming to see your new work in WA Dance Makers Project?
They will see a work that is multi-layered and offers audiences an opportunity to engage as they try to unravel the pseudo-narrative that is embedded in and weaves through the work. There is a darkness to In-Lore Act II, as well as some scenes that should put a smile on people’s faces. Oh, and there’s some beautiful lyrical dance as well as dynamic and fast-paced choreography. Something for everyone!