Julie-Anne Long is a Sydney-based award-winning independent dance artist who has worked with many of Australia’s premier dance and theatre companies since the 1980s. As a much-loved QSS-Member for the last few years, we’re super excited to have Julie-Anne facilitating our Blueprint Residency program, which provides 20 hours of FREE rehearsal space, professional development and mentorship to successful applicants.
Image Credit: Leah McGirr
Blueprint will provide space, development and mentoring to emerging performance makers—what sort of artists are you hoping will apply?
I would like to be surprised… My background is in dance, but the work I make now incorporates many cross-overs with other disciplines, so, I am keen to embrace proposals from diverse and unexpected directions. I welcome anyone who wants to rise to the Blueprint challenge and respond to the space at FraserStudios. Possibly this may mean putting themselves out of their comfort zone and making work from a starting point that they haven’t used before. You only develop your craft by doing and this is a great chance to do something different in a supportive environment.
What can successful applicants expect from Blueprint this year?
Applicants can expect either the opportunity to focus on something outside of their usual sphere of interest and expertise, or the chance to deepen their existing interest in site-specificity. The process will involve self direction and self motivation within a fairly concentrated period of time. Dialogue and engagement between all the Blueprint artists will be encouraged as I am a great believer in opening up little hubs of the community by mixing and mingling, and it’s often fun! Too often the value of fun is underestimated! Did I mention hard work? Or does that go without saying…
You’ve worked with some fantastic companies as a dancer and choreographer since the mid-80s. What do you consider the highlights of your diverse career? What would you consider the greatest opportunity you’ve been given (or worked for!)?
I’m hopeless at answering questions like this because I don’t think in terms of ‘highlights’, and ‘career’ is not a word I use very often.
I think I just bumble along on some sort of continuum getting on with ‘my work’.
The Nun’s Picnic — Image Credit: Heidrun Lohr
Some things happen to be easier than others, or you receive more recognition for some things, for often inexplicable reasons. I suppose they become the obvious visible highlights. Not surprisingly, I find it’s often the ‘lowlights’ that I learn more from. Everything I do has some connection to what has come before even when I don’t see it at the time and being in each new situation inevitably has some influence or impact on future directions… I just had another thought about highlights—a few years ago I won some Australian Dance Awards and I was pretty chuffed—going up on stage, making my little speeches. But the next day it’s back to whatever… It makes me laugh because I always thought awards were bullshit… until I won some!
I really believe you have to make your own opportunities. Sometimes you’re lucky and it seems like simply a case of being in the right place at the right time or knowing the right person. But you usually only get to that place through sheer hard work, by being involved, deepening your knowledge base, expanding your options and being open to new experiences. Usually you can trace an opportunity back to a whole set of decisions and circumstances that put you in that place at that time. And that doesn’t happen by chance or good luck.
You’ve been working on The Invisibility Project since receiving an Australia Council grant in 2007. Tell us about the work.
The Invisibility Project — www.performancespace.com.au
The Invisibility Project is a big umbrella over a series of diverse outcomes—film, live performance, installation… Its starting point was my experience and interest in the invisibility of middle aged women. But the overexposure in the media and focus on loss of sexual power irritated me and my focus has shifted to uncovering the subversive things you can do when you’re invisible. (Anyone! not just middle aged women although they seem to have the most subversive things to contribute to the mix!) I’m currently conducting a pilot series of performance parties mainly in people’s homes. NOW YOU SEE HER working with Nelly Benjamin and Deborah Kelly is an in-home entertainment that is at times provocative, yet hugely entertaining – both for us, the artists, as well as the party-participants. I’ve embarked on this self-produced, self-contained project with its version of site-specificity in an intimate, domestic setting as a reaction against my frustration with the encumbered responsibilities of institutionalised theatre production models—which is probably one of the reasons why the notion of working on site at FraserStudios for Blueprint excites me so much.
What’s coming up for you later in the year?
There’s no denying that I am deeply involved in the dance sector but the irony of calling myself a dance artist is not lost on me. My body is central to everything I do whether it is performing, making, writing, teaching, curating… a hotch-potch of skills and experiences. The challenge for me in the second half of this year will be how to survive in Sydney and hopefully the outcomes of that challenge will be a range of new and exciting work and a buoyant bank balance.
Applications for Blueprint close on Wednesday 13 July. Click here for more info.