Seven questions for Liesel Zink

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Liesel Zink: loves the choreography of crowds.

Liesel Zink is an award-winning choreographer, producer, dramaturge, facilitator and Associate Artist for Force Majeure in Sydney

Liesel is currently working on two very different projects in Lutruwita/Tasmania. One is To Carry/To Hold with Mature Artists Dance Experience (MADE), a company for mature non-professional dancers, and the other for Stompin youth dance.


1. You are best known for creating large scale works for public spaces. What is the largest group you've worked with? 

My project Us And All Of This has a cast of 100 community dancers. It’s a sculptural performance that invites people of all ages to move together in an act of radical slowness. The performance’s premiere last year saw 300 people gather at three different performance sites in Victoria. It was huge, but also full of heart. There is something incredibly special in witnessing people from all walks of life moving together; in times of isolation or divide we can’t underestimate the power in coming together and moving as one.

2. Where did you develop this interest and ability to work in this way?

I’ve always been passionate about using my art to meaningful contribute to social change.  

Choreographically I’m fascinated in the movement of crowds: from pedestrians travelling through the city to the choreography of bodies in protest.

I’m drawn to public spaces because they are a site of social revolution and also shared spaces. I love presenting contemporary dance in these spaces because it allows me to connect with new and expansive audiences, some of whom may have never stepped inside a theatre.

I’ve continued to follow my interests and always maintain a sense of flexibility around what dance looks like in each different circumstance to ensure my choreography is best serving the idea. Also, I’ve been incredibly lucky to work with organisations that support a diverse range of people to dance. We all have bodies and we can all enjoy expressing ourselves through movement. I’ve been fortunate to work with such a broad reach of dancers; from beginners to professionals, to young people and mature movers, and all of these experiences have shaped and enriched my choreographic practice in so many ways.

3. What is the smallest work you have been involved in?

My project Daruvaty (to give) is a one-on-one experience where I invite people to take part in the intricate art of pysanky, a Ukrainian egg painting tradition handed down through generations of my family. It’s a choreography of the hands in many ways. Although it steps outside of dance it still focuses on how art can bring people together to share stories, experiences and culture.

4. You are passionate about using the arts to initiate dialogue between people of different backgrounds, cultures and generations. Can you give an example of one of these you have been involved in?

There are so many examples! A safe and caring conversation between a 17-year-old and a 75-year-old discussing gender pronouns and what they mean to each them. A conversation with a man on the street who unexpectedly came across our performance and was moved to tears. Two participants in a dance project sharing their cultural dances with each other during our lunch break. When you bring people together through dance there are endless connections and conversation to be had. 

5. What is one of the more unusual sites/venues you have performed in?

In 2012 I created a dance performance that wove in amongst peak hour pedestrian traffic. The work was called fifteen and was performed at Flagstaff Station in Melbourne for Next Wave Festival. I was fascinated by the choreography of bodies in these spaces; the rhythms of people coming and going to work, funnelling through the ticket gates to the train station. 

Zink rehearsing with the cast of 'To Carry To Hold'. Photo by Amy Brown.
Zink rehearsing with the cast of 'To Carry/To Hold'. Photo by Amy Brown.

6. You are of German/Ukrainian descent and have organised a number of charitable activities, including raising money for Ukraine, through crafts. Are you a crafter? 

I love craft – it is very much my meditation. Since the full-scale Russian Invasion commenced, craft has also been a means to bring community together. My group, Ukrainian Crafters, is a small group of Ukrainians and friends of Ukraine that create beautiful products to raise money for humanitarian aid in Ukraine. I’m grateful that the skills I have gained in producing dance performances can be transferred to doing what I can to support Ukraine during this time; from organising events and cultural festivals, to gathering community to raise money.

7. You are currently choreographing for two very different companies – for Mature Artists Dance Experience (MADE) , a project called To Carry/To Hold, and Stompin youth company, both in Lutruwita/Tasmania. What is similar about these two companies?

For both companies there is a beauty in finding the unique way each individual moves and expresses themselves. The Stompin dancers have this unabashed youth energy and voice that is bursting at the seams. The MADE dancers hold this incredible lived experience and wisdom in their in their bodies that is truly mesmerising to witness on stage. Both organisations share an open embrace of the way dance can bring visibility to their experiences and perspectives.

Zink's 'To Carry / To Hold' is MADE’s new work for 2024 and will be held at Theatre Royal Hobart, April 11 and 12, and Burnie Arts Centre, April17 and 18.


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