We caught up with Ochre Contemporary Dance Company’s Mark Howett,  director and creator of upcoming Perth Festival show Kwongkan to find out more about this powerful dance production and why he’s inspired to stop climate change in its tracks.

What is Kwongkan about and who is involved?

Kwongkan is about climate and the impact that climate change has on communities, with a particular focus on first nations. For years we’ve been warned if we don’t look after Mother Earth then we risk this magnificent planet of ours dying and all of us along with it. Kwongkan features Noongar dancers from Ochre Contemporary Dance Company and as well as dancers from India’s Daksha Sheth Dance Company. It’s a truly international team, people from Australia, India and all over the world have contributed to making Kwongkan happen.

What can audiences expect to experience?

Audience can expect dance, aerial work and plenty of physical theatre. This is a powerful production that is energetic, introspective, passionate, profound and ultimately about us and our place on this earth.

Kwongkan performance still, courtesy of Ochre Contemporary Dance Company

Kwongkan performance still, courtesy of Ochre Contemporary Dance Company

The show draws on Aboriginal and Indian dance traditions, how has it been bringing those together?

You’d be surprised how many traditional elements Noongar and traditional Indian dance have in common, from using sand as part of the dance process to certain phrases. There are of course big differences too, which we celebrate. We’re celebrating traditional dance that has been practised for centuries.

What makes Kwongkan different from other dance productions?

All types of dance techniques help to tell a story and it’s the coming together of contemporary dance, traditional Indian dance, traditional Noongar dance and physical theatre that help flesh out the narrative. We’re not trying to perfect one dance style and get so caught up in it that we forget to tell a story

Kwongkan comes to Fremantle Arts Centre as part of Perth Festival. It premieres Sat 16 Feb and runs for five nights until Wed 20 Feb.

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