Acclaimed choreographer Shaun Parker heads up the eponymously named physical theatre company, Shaun Parker + Company, and it is his undeniable brilliance behind countless productions renowned for their integration of leftfield choreography, punchy music and theatrical invention. Take Hover, developed during an EDGE Greenway residency, which features up to five physical theatre artists ‘dancing’ on hover boards. And if that isn’t intriguing enough, imagine being snuck up on by said mask-wearing dancers sporting bright primary colours and highly amused expressions…
The simplicity of Hover was integral to its powerful audience engagement. Dodging trikes and kids and dogs on strings, the dancers weave and hop in sync, dancing to a well-known pop hit, improvising as they go, and drawing the audience in as the hover boards whirr beneath them.
inSIGHT Lab caught up with Shaun to grill him on what the company has been up to since the EDGE residency, and their plans for the future:
“We’ve just arrived home from a two-week tour of southwest NSW, around Mildura and the Riverina, touring the Found Objects show, which we were working on during the EDGE residency in 2021. As you can imagine, it has developed since then, and it now features a triptych of works in a 20′ shipping container… which is a very large found object that we found at Greenway! This show really is the genesis of the incubator design and development we undertook that year as part of the residency, and the culmination of ‘ideas’ and concepts that we tested during the impromptu pop-up performances we did as part of the festival.”Shaun Parker
A show in a container is deeply fitting for a work that has developed from the container-strewn banks of Hawthorne Canal, and it fits snugly into the confines of a pandemic shift that saw creatives realign ideologies to fit a new world. This show, Shaun explains, is an invitation to explore physical space and how we inhabit it:
“Basically, the audience gets invited into a locked container alive with dance, light and sound, and becomes a part of the production. It’s a 10-minute performative experience and it is designed to be both stimulating and contemplative, and the responses we are getting are incredible. I guess, on some level, it’s like being a fly on the wall, right?”Shaun Parker
Hover, in turn, was developed further while on tour in Darwin and along the Queensland coast, and Shaun promises that it’s newest iteration is coming back to EDGE Greenway this year…
“In terms of coping with the post-COVID dynamic, these boutique shows are important: they allow me to employ dancers, take them on tour and provide them with an income, which they deserve.
“While we developed the boutique idea of Hover as we toured it, the time and space to come up with the overarching concept and trialling this is vital, and this is what EDGE offers. I guess, if I was to change anything about EDGE it would be to make it happen multiple times a year so that artists had plenty of opportunity to develop new works and consider how to move forward.
“You can achieve so much from these incubator spaces: space + time + modest resources = more work, and a cumulative development process that can only enhance future works.”Shaun Parker