Fledgling dance company Mod embarks on its first Australian tour this month with Suite Synergy, a fusion of two acclaimed 1990s works by respected Australian choreographer and former Sydney Dance Company artistic director Graeme Murphy.
Murphy, who is the Mod Dance Company’s chief patron, told the Star Observer the company’s hungry young dancers — a mix of ex-SDC members and newer performers — were sweating it out in preparation for the show’s stage debut.
“The dancers are looking beautiful, but they’ve been working in an old factory that’s been converted to a dance studio, which isn’t ideal given the heat. I went and watched them the other day and I could barely see them all through the humidity and mist and sweat,” he laughed.
Suite Synergy moulds two of Murphy’s most successful dance pieces, Synergy and Free Radicals, into one new work.
Murphy said that while much of the original choreography remains unchanged, he’s been “updating and tweaking” elements of it for new audiences.
“It’s been redesigned, because the pieces were made in ’92 and ’96, and we’ve moved on a bit from the ’90s, haven’t we? Just the fact that the two pieces have been married into one means that Brett [Morgan, artistic director] and I have been able to take the absolute best from each piece.
“It’s funny, because I never thought I’d see any of my repertoire from Sydney Dance Company again — the company’s moved on, and I’ve moved on. But I’m realising these works have a long life. I think. I hope!”
The first contemporary dance piece to be produced by Murphy in four years, Suite Synergy will feature 18 talented young dancers, accompanied by Michael Askill’s pulsating percussion score performed live by four musicians.
Murphy said that while they varied in scale, the two source works had much in common.
“There’s a lot of relativity between the two works. They’ve had very different lives. Synergy was so massive that we couldn’t perform it very much. Free Radicals, on the other hand, we did everywhere because it was very small and portable in design.
“But interestingly, they do work together very well, because the percussionist Michael Askill is the common link between them.”
Murphy will watch with interest how this first tour goes, because the formation of Mod Dance Company has been something of a gamble for all involved.
“This is not a subsidised company with a nice safety net of government funding — we receive no government funding. It’s a group of people who passionately believe in the art form. It’s very brave — these people have a lot of courage.
“We can’t afford to say, ‘Who cares what the audience thinks’. We do care what the audience thinks, and we want them to come. I don’t think that’s a bad thing.”
info: Suite Synergy plays Melbourne’s Arts Centre from March 23-26 and Sydney’s Star City Lyric Theatre from April 6-9. Visit www.suitesynergy.com.au