First participants chosen for ‘New Breed’

New Breed choreographers Lee Serle, Gabrielle Nankivell, Cass Mortimer Eipper, Charmene Yap and Juliette BartonSydney Dance Company and Carriageworks have developed an exciting new partnership to commission and present five up-and-coming Australian choreographers’ work. Each will be given the opportunity to create work on Australia’s leading contemporary dance company ahead of a limited season at Carriageworks on November 5-8 this year.


The quintet have been selected as the first round of participants in New Breed, a three-year program co-presented by Sydney Dance Company and Carriageworks, which will see the next generation of Australia’s choreographers given a coveted opportunity, to create works on some of Australia’s leading and most versatile contemporary dancers.


Over the coming months, independent choreographers Lee Serle and Gabrielle Nankivell and Sydney Dance Company dancers Cass Mortimer Eipper, Charmene Yap and Juliette Barton will each be given time in the studios with the Sydney Dance Company ensemble to create their short works, ready for a November premiere.


Serle, Nankivell and Mortimer Eipper each have some choreographic experience and will create works of approximately 20 minutes duration, whilst Yap and Barton will create shorter pieces to mark their choreographic debuts.


Sydney Dance Company Artistic Director Rafael Bonachela says he’s thrilled that through this partnership with Carriageworks and the support of the Balnaves Foundation, Sydney Dance Company is able to build on it’s history of supporting the next generation of young up-and-coming Australian choreographers.


“The reason that I am here now, working in this position, is because when I was a dancer, full-time for 12 years, I also had the curiosity and the desire to choreograph,” Bonachela comments.


“Within the structure of the company I was working for, I was given the opportunity to create work and to practice the craft of choreography. Without practice it is impossible to learn and grow. It’s about doing it, putting your ideas on the stage and seeing what works.”


Bonachela says he wanted to showcase the diversity of choreographic ideas through the New Breed initiative and he formed the backbone of the 2014 program by selecting two independent choreographers with distinct choreographic styles.


Whilst Serle, an inaugural recipient of the Australia Council’s Creative Australia Fellowship in 2012, and the first Australian to be awarded the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Initiative for dance, is interested in abstract works that are conceptually driven and structurally complex, Nankevill’s works are typically high energy and theatrical, informed by her extensive physical theatre experience.


New Breed also provides a unique opportunity for some of Sydney Dance Company’s dancers to step off stage and into the choreographic arena, where they can apply the knowledge and ideas they have gained working with the company’s choreographers each year.


Cass Mortimer Eipper was an obvious choice for the program based on his experience and interest in choreography over a number of years. Prior to joining Sydney Dance Company last year, he was co-director of the Australian dance/media company Ludwig. He has choreographed numerous works, including several pieces for West Australian Ballet, and was the recipient of a 2013 West Australian Dance Award for Most Outstanding Choreography for his co-creation with Emma Sandall, Fleck&Flecker.   


Bonachela then invited senior dancers Charmene Yap and Juliette Barton to take part in the program, each making their choreographic debuts with a five to 10 minute work. 


“I know how creative they are and what they’re like when they’re working with me as performers,” says Bonachela. “Ultimately, New Breed is an opportunity for them to see if choreography is something they enjoy and want to pursue.”


“For me, it’s also an opportunity to follow my instinct and test the water, to see who’s out there who can filter into the main repertoire of the company in the future,” he concludes.


Lisa Havilah, the director of Carriageworks, said, “Carriageworks has a strong history of commissioning and presenting national and international contemporary dance within its artistic program, so collaborating with Australia’s leading contemporary dance company is an exciting partnership for the institution. Carriageworks is unrelenting in its support of artists and we are thrilled to be working with Sydney Dance Company to support the next generation of Australian choreographers for New Breed.”


New Breed will be presented as an exclusive season of five shows only, November 5-8, at Carriageworks. Tickets are on sale now, all $35. For more information and bookings, go to


Photo: New Breed choreographers Lee Serle, Gabrielle Nankivell, Cass Mortimer Eipper, Charmene Yap and Juliette Barton. Photo by Peter Greig.