Good news from Canberra dancer Paul Knobloch who will be joining Sydney Dance Company for its upcoming 45th anniversary tour to Western Australia, Queensland and regional New South Wales. The company will be taking their multi award winning work, 2 One Another, on this tour which will take in small and large cities from Perth to Mackay to Dubbo. Earlier this year Bonachela explained his interest in regional touring:
‘The regional touring is something very close to my heart because I come from a very small town myself. I believe that we can change people’s lives through dance. We need to benchmark ourselves against leading companies overseas but we need to be seen across Australia as well’.
Knobloch has been teaching in Canberra just recently at the Canberra Dance Development Centre and it is good to see him returning to his performing career once more. The tour begins in Perth on 18 June and runs through until August finishing up in the New South Wales central western city of Orange.
For more about Paul Knobloch’s career see the posts at this link.
The Canberra Critics’ Circle recently began an informal weekly series ‘In conversation with …’ designed to bring critics from various disciplines into contact with practising artists across art forms who are either visiting or resident in Canberra. Dancer Paul Knobloch was the Circle’s first guest.
Knobloch was in Canberra on what has become a regular return to his home city during the northern hemisphere summer break. A graduate of the Australian Ballet School, Knobloch currently performs with Alonzo King LINES Ballet, which has its home base in San Francisco and which Knobloch joined in February 2012. Before that he was a member of Bejart Ballet Lausanne. He has also had stints with the English National Ballet in London and has worked in Australia with West Australian Ballet and the Australian Ballet.
Knobloch talked with the Circle about his current work and remarked that he has had a busy half year so far in 2013 with a collaboration between King’s company and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. In particular, they have been performing works that grew from a residency for the two companies at the University of California at Irvine.
Paul Knobloch and dancers of Alonzo King LINES Ballet. Photos: Angela Sterling
He went on to talk enthusiastically about a collaboration with Grammy Award-winning double bassist Edgar Meyer. The work, called Meyer, has Meyer and two string players performing on stage and Knobloch recalls that at one point he found himself dancing a solo just centimetres from Meyer’s 100-year-old double bass. Despite this somewhat daunting experience, Knobloch counts dancing in this work as ‘like nothing I had experienced before’.
Knobloch has also been taking classes in the Gaga movement language and spoke to the Circle about its effects on his work and his approach to dance. The movement language known as Gaga was developed by Ohad Naharin, inspired and admired director of the Israeli group, Batsheva Dance Company. The name refers to the baby gibberish ‘ga-ga’, and, when asked why he called his new dance language Gaga, Naharin explained: ‘I called it Gaga because I was tired of saying “my language of movement”. I understood that it was worthy of a name and I wanted to detach it from me. I didn’t want it to be Ohad Naharin’s language of movement’.
The Gaga movement language is used by the professional dancers of the Batsheva company as part of their day-to-day training and Naharin stresses that Gaga doesn’t go against ballet or ruin a dancer’s technique. It improves technique and supports the language dancers already know. It is a way of gaining knowledge and self-awareness through the body.
It is also used now as a training method for students as well as professionals. Knobloch says that dancers are led through a class by being given key words, phrases and imagery to help them create movement and develop improvisation skills. Knobloch says that for the entire class dancers never stop moving and that at some point they have to let go of thought and let the dancing body take over. ‘The Gaga classes I take allow me to awaken my inner voice as a dance-maker, and spark a freedom of movement that I haven’t felt since my childhood,’ Knobloch says. ‘The quote “Dance as though no-one is watching” comes to mind.’
Knobloch is also considering his future and continues to have choreographic aspirations. His most recent choreographic work is Facets of Light, commissioned by Ballet Victoria, British Columbia, in 2011. At present though he is still enjoying ‘living out of a suitcase’ as LINES pursues its extensive touring of the festival circuit.
While in Canberra Knobloch will also dance at the annual performance by students from his former dance school, Canberra Dance Development Centre, and will present the award for best performance by a female dancer at the 2013 Australian Dance Awards to take place on 5 August at the Playhouse, Canberra Theatre Centre.
Michelle Potter, 27 July 2013
Featured image: Paul Knobloch with double bassist Edgar Meyer, Alonzo King LINES Ballet, 2013. Photo: Angela Sterling
It is always a pleasure speaking to Paul Knobloch about future directions in his career. As I mentioned in my December dance diary Paul has just moved to San Francisco to take up a contract with Alonzo King LINES Ballet. Recently The Canberra Times published a longer story about this latest move under the heading ‘Moving on’. Here is a link to the article.
During 2011 I have published many thoughts on a whole variety of dance subjects, but there is no doubt that most interest has been generated by posts and comments associated with the Australian Ballet’s production of Graeme Murphy’s Romeo and Juliet. Traffic across this website has risen by 50% since the opening of R & J in September. My two posts on this show were quickly picked up. The original post has been the top post in terms of visitor numbers since October and the ‘second look’ post quickly took up the second spot from November onwards.*
The main thrust of the comments on R & J has been, it seems to me, that the story lost its depth as a result of the wildly changing locations and eras in which this production of the ballet is set. In response to one such comment following the Sydney season I wrote: ‘ I keep wondering about our expectations of ballet, and this ballet in particular. Does the story lose its profundity if it covers different territory and does so in a way that is not expected?’ I think most people believe the story did lose rather than gain in this production, but I still wonder and look forward to further comments when the work goes to Brisbane early in 2012.
Infinity: the Australian Ballet’s 2012 triple bill
Graeme Murphy is in the throes of creating another work for the Australian Ballet. It will form part of a triple bill entitled Infinity, which will open in Melbourne in February and comprise works by Murphy, Gideon Obarzanek and Stephen Page. While I have no inkling as to what Murphy will give us this time, Bangarra Dance Theatre’s December newsletter gives us a hint of what we might expect from Page’s work, which will use dancers from both his own Bangarra Dance Theatre and the Australian Ballet—definitely something to look forward to.
Scholars and Artists in Residence (SAR) Fellowship
In December I began my research into designer Kristian Fredrikson’s film and television commissions at the National Film and Sound Archive under a SAR Fellowship and will resume work there after the holiday break. I was especially pleased finally to be able to see a film called Undercover, made in 1983 and produced by David Elfick with Kristian Fredrikson as costume designer and Anna French as his assistant designer. This film is set in the 1920s and charts the growth of the Berlei undergarment enterprise in Australia. Fredrikson’s designs, especially for the women and for the dance sequences (choreographed by former Australian Ballet dancer Leigh Chambers) towards the end of the film, are beautifully realised within the spirit of the fashions of the 1920s. I suspect Fredrikson reimagined some of his work for Undercover when he began work on Tivoli, which he designed in 2001 for Sydney Dance Company and the Australian Ballet. In any case, despite the reservations I had (before I had seen the film I have to admit) about the subject matter, Undercover is a fascinating film and I hope to arrange a screening of it at a later date.
As a result of a mention I made of the SAR Fellowship in my dance diary post for November I was surprised and delighted to be contacted by one of Fredrikson’s assistants who worked with him on a production of Oedipus Rex, produced in 1965 by Wal Cherry for his Emerald Hill Theatre in Melbourne. It was only recently that I discovered that Fredrikson had designed this show, one of his earliest Australian design commissions, and I hope to include reference to it in a Spotlight Talk I will be giving for the Performing Arts Centre, Melbourne, in April when I will also talk about Fredrikson’s other early designs in New Zealand and Australia.
Meryl Tankard and Régis Lansac returned to Sydney in December following the opening of Tankard’s latest work, Cinderella, for Leipzig Ballet in November. As well as passing on news about Cinderella, Tankard also told me of the success that The Oracle had when it was shown in Lyon in November. Tankard made The Oracle in 2009 as a solo work for dancer Paul White and one clipping from a Lyon newspaper that Tankard sent me referred to Paul White as ‘a revelation to the French public’ and ‘a god of the stage’ and suggested that his solo had instantly attracted a cult following. Here is a link to another review (in French or, if you prefer, in English translation) from the Lyon Capitale that lauds, once again, White’s remarkable physicality and virtuosity and Tankard’s and Lansac’s extraordinary work. The Oracle was the recipient of two Australian Dance Awards in 2010.
Australian dancer Paul Knobloch was in Canberra over the holiday season visiting family and friends. Knobloch is excited at the new direction his career is about to take. He will take up a contract in February with Alonzo King LINES Ballet based in San Francisco. King recently made a work called Figures of thought for Béjart Ballet Lausanne, where Knobloch has been working for the past few years. King offered Knobloch a contract after working with him in Lausanne.
The BBL website has a photo galleryfrom this work. It contains several images of Knobloch in rehearsal. [Update April 2019: link no longer available].
Luminous: Celebrating 50 years of the Australian Ballet
In December The Canberra Times published my review of the Australian Ballet’s most recent publication, Luminous: Celebrating 50 years of the Australian Ballet. Here is a link to the article.
The interview with Paul Knobloch recorded by Stateline Canberra during Paul’s recent Australian visit screened on Friday 24 September. Its online availability will, it seems, expire in December so it’s worth having a look before that happens. In addition to the words from Paul and his mentor, Jackie Hallahan, there are some photos of Paul as a student and some tantalisingly short footage of his performance in Webern Opus V as well as snippets from an impromptu dance performed in the studio for the Stateline cameras.
Here is the link. (See update below for new link)
Michelle Potter, 26 September 2010.
UPDATE: 27 July 2013: The video on the link above has been removed although the transcript of the interview is available. The footage, however, is still available at this link from ABC Western Victoria.
Paul Knobloch, former soloist with the Australian Ballet, is back in Australia briefly to visit his family and conduct master classes in Canberra. Knobloch left the Australian Ballet in 2009 to join Béjart Ballet Lausanne.
Knobloch counts dancing the opening night of a season in Paris, when he partnered Russian-born Daria Ivanova in Béjart’s Webern Opus 5, as the highlight of his career to date with Béjart Ballet Lausanne. He returns to Switzerland in September when Béjart Ballet Lausanne will begin working with Tokyo Ballet on a joint staging of Béjart’s version of Rite of Spring. Knobloch’s own work Valetta, commissioned by David McAllister for an Australian Ballet gala in 2007, will be on the program for the Australian Ballet School’s graduate exhibition in Melbourne this September.