Phillip Adams began his dancing career as a back-up dancer for a variety show on Channel 9. In the 1980’s Phillip hitch-hiked to Melbourne, with a red mohawk, to study dance at the Victorian Collage of the Arts (VCA).
After being awarded the ANZ International Fellowship Award in 1988, Phillip left Australia to spend 10 years in New York.
Phillip recalls “opening The Village Voice and seeing the dance section and reviews from Deborah Jowitt”. New York in the late 1980’s early 1990’s was sexier and dirtier according to Phillip. It was a time in which the AIDS epidemic was having a huge impact on the creative community and in this interview Phillip recalls the loss of his partner and the scores of his friends that lost their life to the disease.
These years are described by Phillip as the most informative years of his life.
“New York was my mentor”
The time in New York was shared with Australian dancers incuding Lucy Guerin. Phillip worked with several leading dance companies and worked with many independent choreographers including BeBe Miller, Trisha Brown, Irene Hultman, Sarah Rudner, Amanda Miller, Donna Uchizono and Nina Wiener.
Upon returning to Melbourne in 1998, Phillip founded BalletLab. BalletLab is a company known for pushing the boundaries of dance, incorporating a range of other disciplines, including fashion, performance, cinema, architecture and visual arts. Often unorthodox and Queer in style, BalletLab has created work that takes place in galleries, theatres and other unconventional performance spaces. BalletLab has toured and performed at venues in Australia, North and South America, Asia and Europe.
In 2017, Temperance Hall, in South Melbourne, was opened as the new home of Balletlab, and is becoming a home for experimental and contemporary performance work. Temperance Hall has an office space, a rehearsal/performance space and an artist residence space that is used as an Airbnb when artists are not in residence. Phillip’s ambition is that Temperance Hall becomes the site of innovation for the next generation of queer and experimental artists.
Phillip won the Australia Council Award for Dance earlier this year.
This interview took place in Temperance Hall, with the tap dancing of Phillips gorgeous Dachshunds heard at times walking across the wooden floors. We discuss Phillips journey into dance, his time in New York, ideas around queer, AIDS epedimic, his process and his vision for Temperance Hall.