Welcome to our new column, On Pointe. Interviews and news from the dance and physical movement world. This weeks dance spotlight focuses on Aslam Abdus-Samad a writer, performance maker and artist living in Sydney. Currently he is working on the stage show, ‘Political Children’ Presented by City of Sydney Library in partnership with Spark Youth Theatre, an initiative of Inner West Council.
Aslam, how long have you been working as a movement performer and director? How did you begin?
I’ve been working as a movement based artist for upward of 5 years now. I first began by devising and directing my own works. Soon that practice expanded and I started an ongoing collaboration with Spark Youth Theatre and here we are now.
Which choreographers inspire you and why?
My two main idols are: Pina Bausch because she plays with the fine line of dance, theatricality and everyday life and Anne Bogart because of the way she choreographs drama and action through The Viewpoints.
Political Children is one of your projects. How did this come about?
Felicity (the director) and I sat down in a room and she asked me “What do you know about Safe Schools?”. After a few hours of discussion, the seeds of Political Children were born. We were both very passionate about bringing the voices of young people into this arena where, ironically, their voices were not being sought.
What have you enjoyed the most about working with these young performers?
I am constantly amazed at just how clued in to the nuances of the subject matter they are. We often drop questions and concepts into the room and they not only pick them up, but run with them. In fact, there is a ‘Soap Opera” scene in the show that best exemplifies this point. They wrote it, 100%, its completely of their own creation.
What are the challenges in the work you do?
I am interested in using bodies to access emotional clarity and complexity as well as to create visual and affective frames for a scene. Sometimes the body betrays your feeling and other times it buries them. My job is to work with a performer to find the physical truth and in turn the emotional truth.
How has movement influenced this piece of Verbatim Theatre?
We say a lot in this piece. Literally and figuratively. One of the risks we face with text heavy work is that it becomes a purely cerebral and auditory exercise. In Political Children I would say that movement is mostly used to heighten emotional collateral. By that I mean, the performers use their bodies in space to explore the emotional undercurrents and repercussions of the text being delivered.
What advice do you have to emerging movement artists wanting to make their mark in this industry?
Follow your thread of interest. It took me a long time to trust that and to shake this idea that I have to stick to one modality of movement practice. Following what interests you and not what you think you should be interested in will garner the best work from you.
Political Children is presented by the City Of Sydney Library in partnership with Spark Youth Theatre, an initiative of Inner west Council.
Dates: 8th, 9th, 10th of December.
Aslam Abdus-samad is a writer, performance maker and movement artist. He maintains his practice as a physical theatre performer throughout Australia and Internationally. He has trained with NIDA, Stella Adler Studio (NYC), IUGTE (Italy), MADimprov (Spain), Zen Zen Zo and holds a P. Grad Dip in Performance Creation (VCA).
Credits include: Political Children (Movement Associate; Spark Youth Theatre); Fire and Ice (Movement Director, Shopfront Theatre), Antigone (Actor; Ninefold Ensemble), Hands I Burnt (Director; Sydney Fringe), Rausch (Actor; Elsie Edgerton-Till), Punk Rock (Movement Associate; Ashfield Youth Theatre), Metafour (Actor; Glorious Thing Theare Co), The Horizon (Billy the Bartender; Cobbstar Productions), Moments of Perfect (Deviser; Midsumma Festival), Rapid Response Team (Artist; PACT), Scotty (Actor; Stella Adler Studio).