Case Study: BREC and Ochre Dance

In July 2016, we wrote about a planned collaboration between Bunbury Regional Entertainment Centre and Ochre Contemporary Dance Company.

In August and September 2016, Bunbury Regional Entertainment Centre is welcoming Perth-based Ochre Contemporary Dance Company to Bunbury for a five-week residency. Ochre will be based in BREC’s Cube Theatre and will spend time with local artists, performers and indigenous communities as it works towards producing a new work, Kaya. The residency will culminate in the world premiere of Kaya before the company takes it on tour around Australia and internationally.

BREC is committed to building a performing arts industry in Bunbury and hopes to attract performers from all over the country to make Bunbury their home. “Bunbury is perfectly placed to be the home base for professional performers and theatre-makers. This unique setting, with its proximity to Perth as well as the beauty of the South West and the heritage of our local Nyoongar people, can be a great inspiration to artists creating work,” BREC General Manager Sharon Custers says.

“It makes sense for BREC, with its state-of-the-art facilities, to open its doors to professional artists seeking a home base in the South West. It also means local amateur theatre-makers and students will have easy access to experienced professionals as mentors.”

Ms Custers says the program will provide a next level experience for those of BREC’s customers most interested in creating work, bringing them much closer to the process. It will be especially valuable for local actors, directors, writers, dancers and young people interested in creating live performance. “They will be able to experience this journey with the company. From BREC’s perspective, this is an opportunity to inspire and build the capacity of our local amateur performing artists, hopefully planting seeds for future developments right here in Bunbury,” she says.

The benefits of having a professional company such as Ochre based in Bunbury are many, according to Ms Custers, and she hopes the residency will lead to more interest from professional performing arts companies of all disciplines in relocating to Bunbury and making use of BREC’s state-of-the art facilities.

“We feel that the people of Bunbury will benefit greatly from having a professional company based here at BREC. Not only will Ochre be working with the local community to create their new work, but students and any community members who are interested will be able to come and watch a rehearsal and see how a professional company works, following the whole process from the start of the rehearsal period in August until the presentation of the work in our Cube theatre in late September,” Ms Custers says.

Ochre’s practice is deeply rooted in the indigenous dance culture of the South West, but also deals with cross cultural dance forms, so they have the ability to connect with the Bunbury story. Ochre is headed by new Artistic Director Mark Howett, who has recently returned to Western Australia after spending the past 10 years working in Germany and on London’s West End.

It was in Europe that the “unconventional” idea of developing a work regionally before touring nationally, rather than the traditional reverse method, came to the fore. “We decided to bring this idea of swapping things around – developing regionally before exporting to the world – to Australia and in a way, it will be our way of saying Kaya, or hello, from Bunbury to the world,” Mr Howett says.