Over the past two years we’ve been fortunate enough to collaborate with some of the members of MakeShift Dance Collective in various projects. Last April Gabriel Comerford was the fight choreographer for our production of ROMEO + JULIET (watch Gabriel working with the cast here). In October 2014 Gabriel, Caitlin MacKenzie, Abby Johnson and a number of other artists recruited by MakeShift tested One Two Ten Project in our Performance-in-Progress series and went on to present a fully realised and highly successful production in this year’s Anywhere Festival. Caitlin collaborated with the SEVEN JEWISH CHILDREN team this year and choreographed all the movement for the play (read the review here). Finally, Caitlin and Gabriel were interviewed as part of our new ART MATTERS series, and shared some fantastic insights into the independent arts industry, the discipline needed to be an artist and how dance and the arts work to serve the community.

Dancer, producer, teacher and choreographer Caitlin MacKenzie shared some of her thoughts these projects with us.

What process did you go through to create the movement in SEVEN JEWISH CHILDREN?

I worked very closely with the actors and director to design a visual retelling or progression of the narrative. Using a mixture of the actors’ natural movement vocabulary with some basic physical techniques, we worked out a few short phrases that depicted the scene that (Director and Designer Timothy Wynn) was trying to convey. Most of the movement came from a pedestrian action or gesture which we then softened or included as part of a transition to create a dance or movement sequence.  

What was the most interesting thing about working on SEVEN JEWISH CHILDREN?

For me it was working with actors as opposed to dancers, my usual industry. I loved seeing how the cast interrupted my instruction and how they approached different actions. I also believe that the play is incredibly important and was really moved by the end result and excited to be a part of its presentation in Queensland and Australia. 

What was the most challenging part of the whole process?

I found it fairly challenging to work as thoroughly and in as much details as I normally would in such a short timeframe. Having only the few rehearsals that I had with the cast meant we had to work quickly and efficiently, no time to play, explore and then tidy and clean. It all had to come together within a matter of days.

What did you personally get out of collaborating with the team on the show?

I learnt a lot about working with non-dancers and had to work quite hard to be clear with instruction and intention. I really enjoyed that challenge. I also learnt a little more about the history of the Jewish people and found that the personal connection with the Jewish community through the cast was really powerful. 

You recently took part with in our new series ART MATTERS. How did you find the experience?

The ART MATTERS interview process was really fun! It is so important to talk about the process of art making, the strengths and weakness in the industry and current issues trending in dance and performing arts. It is also fascinating to hear what others think and what they appreciate within the scene. I really hope more experiences like this can be offer to wide variety of artist. 

Who would you like to see interviewed in ART MATTERS and why?

I would love to hear an interview with Wesley Enoch to hear about his personal journey within the arts sector. I would also love to hear from someone like Kyle Page the new Artistic Director of Dancenorth to open up the networks within Queensland and to hear how a young dancers transitions to Artistic Director. Or potentially someone from the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts who can discuss how they make decisions around the programming and the presentation of art within their theatre and performances spaces.  


Caitlin is a Brisbane based dance practitioner, working in performance, installation and choreography. She is co-founder of MakeShift Dance Collective and has been involved in all projects to date. 

Caitlin has performed nationally and internationally including in Guangdong Modern Dance Festival (China), ACT Festival (Spain), Brisbane Emerging Art Festival, Brisbane Festival (Under the Radar), World Theatre Festival (Brisbane), Festival Cuturel Du Mont-Dore (New Caledonia), Anywhere Theatre Festival (Brisbane), and Melaka Art and Performance Festival (Malaysia).

She has performed for Tami Dance Company (Brisbane Festival), Company MADO (New Caledonia) and Independent choreographer Bernadette Walong-Sene (Founding member of Bangarra Dance Company). She is a member of theatre performance group The Vertebras, performing in their season of Envelope in partnership with Metro Arts and Backbone Youth Arts. 

She was commissioned to choreograph for QL2 Dance in their Chaos project (Canberra, 2011 & 2012) and QUT for the Out of the Box Festival (2012) and has taught for ACPA, QUT, Brisbane Dance Artists Hub and Expressions Dance Company.

Through the support of Asialink and the University of Melbourne, Caitlin with Gabriel Comerford, were resident artists at Rimbun Dahan (Malaysia) for three months, developing and presenting a new collaborative and interdisciplinary work, Uncommon Ground. She has been awarded the 2014 Lord Mayor's Young and Emerging Artists Fellowship and looks forward to participating in the World Dance Alliance Global Summit in France and attending Impulstanz Dance Festival this year.


The Paratrooper Project

What: Phluxus2 Dance Collective present a dance/theatre work that invites the audience into an immersive space to interrogate how our military and political histories have imprinted our present and the stains they leave on tomorrow. Featuring Gabriel Comerford.

When: Sat 27 June to Sat 4 July

Where: Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts, Fortitude Valley

More info:

 Walking and Falling

What: QL2 Dance presents a dance performance looking at the experience of Australians at home during the First World War. Featuring Caitlin MacKenzie.

When: Sat 4 July to Sunday 12 July

Where: National Portrait Galllery, Canberra

More info:

The Human Detained

What: This concert presents the extended and completed installation of a collaboration between MakeShift Dance Collective and contemporary music ensemble Kupka’s Piano.

When: Fri 30 October

Where: Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts, Fortitude Valley

More info:

Find out more about MakeShift Dance Collective




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