INTERVIEW: Catapult Dance – Newcastle’s latest creative space
Catapult Dance is a space unlike any other, hosting a variety of artists. Located on Hunter Street the spacious area is filled with the sounds of direction movement and photography. The space is run by director Cadi McCarthy, who has been a passionate dancer since the age of four. Don’t be fooled, the Catapult space is not just a dance school, its a unique creative hub.
“It’s not just about dance, it’s about all dance forms,” Cadi says. “My background is in dance so I’m primarily interested in choreography and moment but what I think is important about being an artist is learning from other art forms, they can’t really exist on their own – they’re all interrelated.”
As I sit across from Cadi I can see the enthusiasm emanating from her. Born in Perth, Cadi has been dancing since the age of four. She was a professional dancer for eight year travelling overseas to New York and Germany before returning to Australia work in her own professional dance school. Dance is an everyday inspiration for Cady, and it shows through her achievements.
“For me dance inspires me because everyone has a voice, everyone has something say and they should be able to say it” Cadi says, behind her a series of posters from her previous project. “Dance can really express someone’s thoughts on a different level.”
It was the birth of her son that bought her back to Newcastle, where she noticed a lack of creative choreographic environment. So she started working towards funding, with such a rich background she was able to obtain this and eventually started the Riptide project. The Riptide project was funded by Hunter Water and performed at the Civic Playhouse.
Due to its popularity Cadi was able to gain more funding and establish Catapult as a not for profit creative hub. Cadi has created and built something special, which she realises, “I’ve had a lot of support. I feel like I’ve had to do it and I’ve been really lucky”.
Rather than being based around dance, or visual arts or music Cadi had created a multi tiered space:
“There’s lot of centres for people to create but I wanted to merge them together into one and see if we can have lots of different programs where the professional artists living here can help our younger artists, creating inspiration across all levels. Then we have our artist in residency teach the beginner contemporary classes so everyone gets a chance to work together.”
The first tier is a professional choreographer program where professional and local artists collaborate in a shared space for three weeks then present their work. Titled the Propel program, it has seen the likes of Adam Blanch, Raegan Ashley Williams, Kristina Chan and Neil Mansfield and the upcoming collaboration between Marnie Palomares and High Tea with Mrs Woo which will be presented on the 23rd & 24th of October.
“This is really new, the propel residency program has never really happened in Australia where they put two artists together and say see what happens. Usually in collaborative processes the artists already know each other. Whereas these people have never met.”
The artists will work together to present to the public what they have working on in an intimate space where the public can ask questions and be involved. A local band from the University of Newcastle will also play. It’s a paid opportunity, with three weeks to finish their works. What should you expect from such a collaboration?
“You don’t really know what you’re going to get until the end, its really experimental,” Cadi says with a glint of excitement in her eyes.
The second tier is the Flipside project, with a junior and senior group. A choreographer comes to mentor the groups as well as working with a composer from the University of Newcastle. It’s a full length production.
“I want to give young people the experience of what it is like to be a professional dance, you’re on stage for one to two hours rather than a three minute piece.”
This is supported by the Education Department and Arts NSW, running during school times. Rather than audition the students are nominated by their schools. There are 6 of these a year and its open to everyone to apply, students don’t need a background in dance, just an interest.
“It’s choreographic development. It’s teaching young people to be artists and how to improvise and to create based on strong intentions and themes. It’s not just about steps, it’s about them coming up with the material. They are the artists.”
Finally there is Catapult drop in classes, there are kids, juniors, advanced and intimidate classes. For drop in classes anyone can join for a small fee.
“For our drop in classes we had a lady who as in her 80’s doing her first contemporary dance class, which is fantastic.”
Cadi has a great reputation in Newcastle and her ambition and dedication show through her work. The Catapult space concludes of two areas, both to creating and showing. The first a big white room, its easy to visualise an art showing or a dance group performing. The second space is upstairs and intimate, perfect for bands or drama performances. The possibilities are endless and the enthusiasm is here, the only thing Cadi worries about is funding.
“Arts funding is always tricky to get, especially in this environment so in that regard we don’t know if we will be the funding for next year.”
However Cadi is passionate, with more upcoming works Catapult is set to soar. It’s another element to Newcastle really gaining a reputation as a creative environment with artists coming from all over.
“I would love to see Catapult still here or developed in 10 years times with professional artists creating work here on a regular basis and young people coming through the doors to do choreographic development. And for the community to really embrace it as an artist hub of Newcastle. If we can create this in Newcastle as a choreographic hub where artists want to come and make work, well how great is that. Why can’t Newcastle be the centre for choreographic dance in Australia?”
The Catapult October Masterclass with Marko Panzic will be held on 17 and 18 October. Juniors 10am-12pm, Seniors: 1-3pm. $40 per day.
The Catapult Propel October showing will feature Marnie Palomares & High Tea with Mr Woo on Friday 23rd and 24th October at 7pm.
The Flipside project will be presented on November 13th and 14th at Griffith Duncan Theatre, University of Newcastle at 7pm.
For more information visit the Catapult Dance website.
Interview by Jodie Millard on behalf of Culture Hunter.
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