PAUL Malek, one of Australia’s most gifted choreographers, is about to tour to the country with his biggest project to date.
Malek first started Underground, a small dance showcase with mixed with elements of club events, in Melbourne in 2011.
“The industry was at a point where we needed more performance platforms for us to share, perform and network together as well as celebrate the awesome world that is dance, without the competitive nature that has been aligned with it.”
Since then, attendance at the quarterly event has increased five-fold and prompted the So You Think You Can Dance choreographer to take it to the national stage.
In partnership with The HiFi Bar, Underground will travel to Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane next month.
“How could we just keep this format here in Melbourne, when there are incredible dance communities all over Australia who are just as bursting at the seams with talent, and people who like to party,” Malek says.
As someone who has spent a large part of both his personal and professional life in the dance industry, Malek says there is “an abundance of accepting, respecting and non-discriminative people [in the dance community], who just do what they do, no matter, where you are from and who you are.”
Malek is also critical of the stereotype of the dance industry being primarily made up of gay men.
“It doesn’t matter what sexual orientation you are when it comes to dance,” he says.
“The misconception is the stereotype that if you dance, you must be gay, or have to be gay to dance— that couldn’t be further from the truth.”
Malek’s busy schedule, which involves constantly flying across the country, also means that he is sometimes juggling his career with his personal life, but it’s made easier by the fact that his partner, Chris, is also his business partner.
“We actually do the same thing, pretty much everyday,” Malek says.
“But get to do it together, so maybe we see each other a little too much at times.”