Leigh Warren hopes arts funding bodies will see the changing of the guard at his South Australian dance company as an opportunity to invest in the future.
Warren announced this morning that former Australian Dance Theatre (ADT) dancer Daniel Jaber will take over as resident choreographer at Leigh Warren Dance (LWD) in 2014 and as artistic director from 2015.
“It’s the right time and Daniel is the right person,” he told InDaily of the move, which comes as the company celebrates its 21st birthday.
Leigh Warren Dance has won accolades for its impressive body of work, including Pari Passu – Touch, which was performed at the Edinburgh International Festival, and last year’s OzAsia Festival production, not according to plan.
However, LWD was struck a blow in 2011 when it was one of several South Australian arts companies to lose their triennial funding from the Australia Council – a move which Warren said at the time had left it in limbo.
Asked how he felt now about the future of LWD, the choreographer said he hoped the Australia Council and Arts SA would see Jaber’s appointment as an “amazing opportunity” to invest in the future.
“I sincerely hope we will get that Australia Council funding back.
“It should be about the future and not just the status quo. I’m hoping they’ll see the incredible talent Daniel has and the importance of having a second major company here [alongside the Australian Dance Theatre].”
Adelaide-born Jaber choreographed last year’s acclaimed ADT production Nought, and has spent 18 months working with dance companies in Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, France and the Netherlands.
Warren said as well as talent, the young choreographer had a hunger for new opportunities and a commitment to dance in South Australia.
Two works helped convince Warren that Jaber was the right person to lead Leigh Warren Dance: a trio he choreographed and danced in for Ausdance’s Choreolab, and the ADT work Nought.
“It [Nought] was truly beautiful, without gimmicks. Just the body and the light and music … the dancers revelled in it and everything was just right.”
Jaber has an interest in classical dance, and says audiences are likely to notice a change in style and themes in future Leigh Warren Dance work. However, he anticipates there will also be a strong sense of continuity.
“My work will be informed by the same dance literacy, dance styles and dance technique foundation I’ve always admired in Leigh’s work.”
Warren will remain at Leigh Warren Dance for the rest of the year as a mentor to Jaber, but says his future career will see him working as an independent director and choreographer pursuing collaborations that are both cross-genre and cross-cultural.
The next of these will be the Philip Glass Trilogy, which opens at Her Majesty’s Theatre on August 5. The same month, Jaber will choreograph, direct and perform in Reassessment – Double Bill at the Adelaide Festival Centre.
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