Gideon Obarzanek is best known for establishing Chunky Move in 1995 in Sydney, subsequently moving to Melbourne in 1997 after winning a tender from the Kennett State Government. Obarzanek hoped that Chunky Move would last at least a year in Melbourne, “so it wouldn’t be so embarrassing”. His desire was to create a space for dancers and choreographers to apply for funding and make work at a time when independent dance was very fringe.
“I didn’t have a great interest in having a dance company or directing a dance company, it came out of necessity. […] My interest has always been about making work.”
Obarzanek remained the artistic director of Chunky Move until 2012.
Obarzanek’s work is diverse, with a focus on collaborations, technology, large-scale events, film and site specific works. His work has toured Europe, Asia, U.K., USA and South America. He has been presented at the Joyce Theatre, BAM Next Wave Festival NY, Dance Theatre Workshop, Venice Biennale, Territoria Festival Moscow as well as all of Australia’s major performing arts festivals. Obarzanek has choreographed works for Australian Ballet, Sydney Dance Company, Dance North, Queensland Ballet, Netherlands Dance Theatre and Opera Australia.
Obarzanek has a long list of awards to his name, including winning the prestigious Bessie Award with Lucy Guerin and Michael Kantor for Tense Dave (2005) and Helpmann Awards for Glow and Mortal Engine (2008),
Since leaving Chunky Move Obarzanek wrote and directed his first play ‘I Want to Dance Better at Parties’ for Sydney Theatre Company, followed by the screen version in 2013. Obarzanek is currently the Chair of the Melbourne Fringe Festival and an Artistic Associate for Melbourne Festival.
In this conversation we discussed dance leadership, gender, inspiration, arts funding, the future of festivals and the vision of Melbourne for being a creative hub.
Discover more about Gideon Obarzanek’s work:
- Tense Dave, (2003)
- I Want to Dance Better at Parties, (2004)
- Glow, (2006)
- Dance Like Your Old Man (2007)
- Mortal Engine (2008)
- Assembly (2011)
- Interview about Assembly
- Lecture on role of technology in his work
Stay tuned for upcoming episodes including interviews with Alexandre Hamel from Le Patin Libre.
Image credit- Dave Tacon