Feature

Dance makes the heart grow fonder

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WA choreographer Ellen-Hope Thomson made her first work for Fringe, Ophelia, in 2016, while she was still a full-time dance student at WAAPA, and her second, Her Crown, just months after graduating.

Ellen-Hope Thomson

Two years later, she is not only bringing a third work to the Fringe stage, but a new collective, Fonder Physical Theatre. Seesaw caught up with Ellen for a quick Q&A ahead of Fonder’s debut.

Seesaw: When did you first know that you wanted to be an artist?
Ellen-Hope Thomson: When I was three years old my mum wrote in a time capsule that I had dreams of becoming a dancer but that I changed my mind frequently and that she couldn’t see this dream lasting very long haha. I guess I had always been imaginative but finding contemporary dance was when I really decided I wanted to be an artist. Being around the thinkers and movers of my days at STEPS Youth Dance Company was probably the first time I even knew what an artist could be. I was incredibly inspired by the way I was allowed to see and respond to the world.

S: Tell us about your training
EHT: My younger sister started dancing before me and will never let me forget that I owe my path through dance to her. We both danced for many years under loving teachers in Bunbury before I made the move to Perth at 16 to pursue training at WAAPA.

‘Here.Moving.” is a triple bill of works by Ellen-Hope Thomson (back), Lauren Catellani (middle) Ayesha Katz (seated). Photo: Dan MacBride.

S: What inspired you to start Fonder Physical Theatre?
EHT: Fonder is an emerging female performance company that I have been wanting to get started for some time now. Fonder emerged from a desire to gain momentum and create more platforms for emerging dancers and choreographers. It made sense to use some of my experience in producing, to aid the artists and friends closest to me in getting their work up too. We want to have more opportunities to test each other and to share stories that don’t rely on text. Fonder is also focusing in on the female experience and the ways in which we can use movement to highlight strength in less familiar ways.

S: Tell us about your 2018 Fringe show!
EHT: “Here.Moving.” is a triple bill of dance being performed in the beautiful Perth Town Hall. I am making a short piece (that may or may not be about my relationship to the Spice Girls) alongside works by Berlin-based artist Ayesha Katz and Lauren Catellani, another recent WAAPA graduate. The pieces are each very different and will give our audience a beautiful tasting plate of contemporary dance. We have an all-female team of incredible performers and we are excited to debut what Fonder is going to be all about.

S: Aside from your show, what are you looking forward to seeing/doing at Fringe?
EHT: Paper Mountain’s Peaks program is looking incredible this year and features quite a bit of special dance talent. The Blue Room Summer Nights is looking as fantastic as ever with Night Sweats, put on by emerging theatre company Static Drive, and The Big Dark by Rhiannon Peterson catching my particular attention. I am also equally looking forward to some balmy summer dancing and post show drinks at the artist bar.

S: What is your favourite playground equipment?
EHT: My favourite play equipment is the swings. Especially at night. I never feel more free than swinging as high as possible on a swing set in the dark.

“Here.Moving.” is showing 1-3 February at Perth Town Hall.

Top: Ellen Hope-Thomson

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