This pair of dance makers believe in the power of dance to change lives for the better.
CAITLIN and Gabe Comerford are collaborators in every sense. Caitlin is the artistic director of Stompin, the Tasmanian youth dance company based in Launceston. Gabe is presently a dancer with Tasdance, also based in Launceston. Both are founding members of Brisbane-based Makeshift Dance Collective, with Gabe being artistic director. Stompin shares the same office building as Tasdance, and sometimes Stompin shares the pleasant, garden-view Tasdance rehearsal studios out the back. But more importantly, Caitlin and Gabe share passionate ideas and philosophies, and are united in their belief in the healing and empowering nature of dance.
The couple met when they were both Bachelor of Fine Arts students at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane. Caitlin had arrived there from her home town of Canberra. Gabe had arrived from his home town of Toowoomba, west of Brisbane. They were part of a close-knit cohort of students, living the peripatetic life of young people finding their professional feet and crossing the continent to grab opportunities as they arose. On graduating, Caitlin moved to Perth for a year to do her Honours with Link (the graduate company of the WA Academy of Performing Arts); Gabe joined Dancenorth in Townsville on contract as a dancer. On their return to Brisbane they created Makeshift with three other QUT graduates “as an avenue to keep working”, Caitlin says. “It was one of those instances where you know you want to be active and there’s definitely things you can see in the community that need to happen and change. So we thought, let’s form a platform where we can present work or host workshops and get classes running.”
The Makeshift collective performed a number of site-specific works, including The Present Past by Gemma Dawkins for the Under the Radar independent section of the Brisbane Festival in 2012, and One to Ten, a series of two-minute solos by 10 different artists curated by Gabe and Cailtin. “The first two or three years we were all together in Brisbane before things started shifting, as they inevitably do,” Gabe says. . .
This is an excerpt from an article entitled "Partners in Compassion", published as part of our "Great Collaborations" series, in the October/November issue of Dance Australia. Buy Dance Australia from your favourite retailer, purchase an online copy via the Dance Australia app or subscribe here.
Pictured top at Gabe and Caitlin Comerford. Photo: Jill Kerswill.