Limelight: Scott Elstermann

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Scott Elstermann with Sam le Breton in 'The Beauty Index' by Annette Carmichael. Photo: Nic Duncan.
Scott Elstermann with Sam le Breton in 'The Beauty Index' by Annette Carmichael. Photo: Nic Duncan.

Emerging independent dancer and choreographer Scott Elstermann is the first Australian to win a Pina Bausch Fellowship.

This article was first published in the April/May edition of 'Dance Australia', and was written during Scott's 2018 Fellowship.

Where were you born?
Perth, WA.

How old were you when you started dancing? What drew you to dance?
I started dancing when I was seven years old and was immediately drawn to the music. Seeing someone move in time with a piece of music is still magical to this day.

Where did you train?
My tertiary training was at the WA Academy of Performing Arts. I completed the BA (Dance) course and was awarded the Palisade Award for the most outstanding graduate in 2014.

What dance styles have you trained in?
Before contemporary dance, I trained in jazz, tap and competitive ballroom dancing (DanceSport). I received titles such as Junior Australasian Jazz Champion and Youth Queensland Ballroom Champion along the way but contemporary dance has become my genre of choice due to its intellect and curiosity. I enjoy being stimulated both physically and mentally and find the abstract nature of contemporary dance fulfils my desire to learn, question, challenge and entertain.

What was your first professional gig?
It was a piece called White Matter by Shona Erskine. This work explored multiple sclerosis (MS) and its effect on two siblings. It premiered at the Blue Room Theatre in 2015 and was remounted for the 2016 MoveMe Festival. The performance skills and choreographic techniques that I learnt from this work still influence my practice today. Having the chance to be on stage with one other person for 50 minutes is a rarity as a dancer and I treasure this opportunity.

You recently made a television advert. What was that like?
I was selected to be in an ad for P&N Bank. In comparison to other dance jobs, this gig had a massive budget and everyone was there to serve you, the “talent”. Everything was meticulously planned and I actually found the process very similar to a dance rehearsal. We did lots of takes and instead of someone saying “Let’s do that one more time” there was someone saying “action”. I had so much fun on set and have just filmed a second ad for P&N Bank, so stay tuned!

Describe your choreographic style…
I find that my choreographic style shifts slightly with each work but some common reoccurrences are intricate gestural movement, playing with rhythmic structures and text/voice.

What will you be doing on the Fellowship?
I will get to experience all the areas of Marina Mascarell’s creative process: the development of a new work, a remount of a previous work, touring and workshops. We will travel to Sweden, The Netherlands, Spain, Germany and Italy. I will get to take class each day, observe rehearsals, participate in task work and attend performances by some of the best dance companies in the world.

What has been a highlight so far?
The introductory week in Wuppertal was a definite highlight. I got the chance to meet the other fellowship recipients, watch the Tanztheater Wuppertal company and get a rare look inside the Pina Bausch archives. Day one at Nederlands Dans Theater is also up there. It is a privilege to be let in the building yet alone take class and watch rehearsal.

Scott Elstermann is currently choreographing a new work for LINK Dance Company which will be performed as part of "The Body Politic" season, May 22 - 25. More: His is also making a new work, Act 2, Scenes 1-4, which will premiere at The Blue Room Theatre in a double bill called "BANG! BANG!" in November 2019. More:

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