Critical Path and PYT Fairfield have partnered on a choreographic lab since 2018.
The aim of the lab is to give Western Sydney dance artists and choreographers an opportunity to deepen their research into their own practice, while co-sharing the studio and exchange practice with two other artists.
Each year, a question is offered to be the artists’ starting point. The first year asked ‘Why is it art?’, the second year asked ‘Why is this contemporary?’ and in 2021, we are asking ‘Why is this mine?’. A facilitator is also appointed to support the artists.
The WHY IS THIS MINE? Choreographic Lab ran from 15 – 26 February 2021, with the first week taking place at The Drill Hall, Rushcutters Bay and week two at PYT Fairfield. Here is a video from the artists; Cynthia Florek, Neda Taha, Azzam Mohamed and facilitator and dance artists Charemaine Seet when they sat together to reflect on their experience.
Artists Cynthia Florek, Azzam Mohamed and Neda Taha
Facilitator Charemaine Seet
Cynthia Florek is an artist with Peruvian and Polish heritage. Her art practice involves dance, movement, image making and holding space for community. In inheriting complex histories and having grown up in Western Sydney, she has always been surrounded with culture and tradition. Cynthia loves any space that offers room to nurture Queer and BIPOC communities and is conscious of this in her work.
Being held by communities that prioritise active listening, Cynthia gravitates towards softness and care, but also resilience and urgency as themes in her practice. Cynthia is currently a member of UTP RISING and We Are Here (Emma Saunders, FORM Dance Projects) and has been part of the Feminist Killjoys Reading Group since 2019.
When she’s not dancing, she’s likely to be practising Spanish with her silly, fluffy, attentive gato, studying history (UNSW) and resting.
Azzam Mohamed, also known as Shazam, is a dancer, performer, and educator. He has been dancing for more than 12 years, and has trained in an array of different dance styles, from traditional cultural African dances like Afro House, Pantsula and Ndombolo to street dance styles such as Hip Hop, Popping and House.
Additionally, He recently won Australia’s largest street dance competition, Destructive Steps in the Bonnie & Clyde Category in August 2019 and was invited to judge the Hip Hop category in 2020. As a teacher and mentor, he has been invited to conduct a weekend intensive at Dubbo Ballet Academy and the Australian Dance festival in 2018. As a performer, he took part in a contemporary and street dance crossover production with Riddim Nation as part of Sydney Festival 2020 and Adelaide Festival 2020 – ‘Two Crews’, choreographed by Nick Power and composed by Jack Prest. He also choreographed ‘’Me, Myself, I’’ for Out of Iso, a series of short dance works presented by Intimate Spectacle, supported by City of Sydney at 107 Projects.
Neda Taha is an emerging Tongan Iraqi-Australian creative who hails from Western Sydney. She has most recently been working in the Helpmann Nominated ‘PLAYLIST’ which has had its second season at the Sydney Opera House as part of Festival UnWrapped 2019. She has also danced with the nationally recognised Pioneers Dance Crew (PNRS) since her first joining in 2013 and has seen an abundance of awards within their competing seasons as well as performances at numerous community events. She has also graduated a Cert. IV in music at EORA College. Neda hopes to eventually traverse into more fields of the performing arts to further develop herself as a creative.
Charemaine Seet was born in Singapore and grew up in Malaysia and Australia. She was a soloist and choreographer for Union Dance Co in London and principal dancer and rehearsal director for Doug Elkins Co in New York. Charemaine was a scholarship students at the Merce Cunningham Studio in New York for two years. She is the director of Seet Dance, one of Australia’s most innovative contemporary dance schools. Charemaine is currently exploring the dance and swordwork of Teochew opera, a distinct form of Chinese opera from her ancestral dialect group.
Listen to the artist playlist, A Brown Body Dancing, curated by Cynthia, Azzam and Neda on Spotify.