|Expressions Dance Company was founded in 1984 by Maggi Sietsma and Abel Valls. The Company gave its first performance in Brisbane in 1985 as part of the national conference of the Australian Society for Education in the Arts. The first production was Maggi Sietsma’s Snow Drops and in that first year the company’s commitment to presenting contemporary works by Australian choreographers was clear. Over the years Expressions has featured the work of many Australian choreographers such as Natalie Weir, Rosetta Cook, Graeme Watson and Sue Peacock. Since 1985 Maggi Sietsma has created over thirty-five works for Expressions including the widely acclaimed Alone Together, Rites of Spring and Virtually Richard3. Abel Valls has created original scores for many of the Company’s works.
Expressions Dance Company has performed at festivals throughout the world and has earned its reputation as one of Australia’s most dynamic contemporary dance companies, achieving national and international recognition for works in which speech, dance and visual media combine to create powerful imagery and intriguing dance.
The Company’s history is defined by a hectic program of main stage performances, touring productions, schools productions and school and community dance classes. By continuing to develop this program and find new ways of engaging audience and artist, Expressions keeps itself at the forefront of contemporary dance.
The history outlined below spans the period 1995 – 2007.
In March 2007, Expressions undertook what became the most successful international tour in the company’s twenty-two year history, three weeks touring the U.S.A. Expressions performed two works created by Maggi Sietsma: Virtually Richard3 and Score!. The company received standing ovations for each of the seven shows performed in five cities; Washington, Miami, Hilo, Kamuela (Both on Hawaii Big Island), and Maui. Reviews by the Washington Post and Miami Sun Sentinel raved about Expressions “intensity of movement”, “mesmerising stage presence”, and ability to present “provocative moves with a surge of emotion”.
In August 2007, Expressions presented two different seasons in Brisbane at the Judith Wright Center. The first one, a remount of Maggi Sietsma’s 2004 work, The 5th Door received strong response form both Reviewers and audiences. The second season presented a double bill comprising: Jigsaw by Natalie Weir and Fragments of Memory by former Cloud Gate dancer, Cheng Tsung-Lung from Taiwan.
“…superb performers delivering socially relevant yet engaging dance theatre, reinforced by a compelling score and dramatic design elements…” Olivia Stewart, The Courier Mail
In March, Expressions performed Virtually Richard3 at Stanford Lively Arts in San Francisco. Over 1000 people attended the show at the Memorial Hall. On the way to the U.S Expressions conducted a short residency at the Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts conducting workshops with over 120 students and an open rehearsal whilst at the Academy.llo
In July, Expressions performed a double bill in Brisbane, featuring If only he could see what she was looking at… by Sue Peacock and Flight! by Maggi Sietsma.
“There are many reasons for the success of this program and this company, but none more important than the commanding physicality and breathtaking prowess of the dancers.” Shaaron Boughen, The Australian
This was followed by a limited return season of Virtually Richard3 in Brisbane, to coincide with World Shakespeare 2006. The Company then embarked on a national tour performing Virtually Richard3 and The 5th Door, and conducting an extensive series of workshops in ten centres around Australia.
“Shakespeare with a powerful twist…They are all technically strong and utterly convincing in their roles… This is an exceptional and integrated work, superbly performed.” Hilary Crampton, The Age, Melbourne
“The best moments play on the edge of passion and violence… provocative dance theatre…” Julia Cotton, Sydney Morning Herald
There was standing room only as Expressions Dance Company performed Virtually Richard3 in Guangzhou (China) as part of the 2nd Guandong Modern Dance Festival in May. The Company also performed Virtually Richard3 at the Macau Cultural Centre during this tour. Expressions returned to Brisbane to present Rites of Spring at the Judith Wright Centre in June.
“A 20th Century classic” Ruth Ridgeway, Dance Australia
The Company performed it’s 20th Anniversary Season Score! in August. Inspired by Fokine’s ballet Petrushka, Score! is set in the context of a reality TV show.
“Score is a winner- thoroughly engaging and accessible. Touchdown!” Olivia Stewart, The Courier Mail.
In September, Expressions performed Virtually Richard3 as part of the annual Western Arts Alliance Conference in Albuquerque, U.S.A. before touring Score! throughout regional Queensland in October.
In March, Expressions performed Virtually Richard3 at the Festival of Mexico in the Historic Centre of Mexico City. Performing at the Palacio de Bellas Artes Theatre the Company received standing ovations. Virtually Richard3 was filmed and broadcast nationwide around Mexico on the national cultural channel Canal 22, which has a viewing audience of over 50 million people throughout Central America.
“An audacious, original, aurally and visually gripping performance piece…Expressions Dance Company was well worth waiting for and was greeted accordingly with enthusiastic applause…” John Maxim, The Herald Mexico Edition
On their return from Mexico, the Company set off on a national tour of Virtually Richard3 around the country performing in Canberra, Ballarat, Shepparton, Orange, Bathurst, Sale, Alice Springs, Darwin and Mt Isa.
“Powerful steps in creative quality… they would rank among the best to be seen anywhere, and certainly one of the top companies in Australia. Sietsma’s breathtaking choreography transcends the craft… it’s a show of quality.”
Larry Ruffell, The Canberra Times.
The Company toured to New Caledonia in July, performing Virtually Richard3 at the Tjibaou Arts and Cultural Centre in Noumea. Expressions then performed the world premiere of Maggi Sietsma’s The 5th Door as part of ENERGEX Brisbane Festival 2004.
“Technically impressive dance with a forceful message” Cameron Pegg, Scene Magazine
Two dance works and a dance film were performed as part of Atelier in November, including Incursion by Emily Amisano, The Insider by Natalie Weir and a dance film Frocks Off by Rosetta Cook.
In June, the Company performed Virtually Richard3 in Toowoomba and Sydney.
“This is a performance that holds great power. The trajectory of the piece is always strong and clear, moving inexorably and intensely to a deadly climax in just under an hour and a half of Sietsma’s characteristically incisive, angular dance.” Jill Sykes,The Sydney Morning Herald
In August, Expressions Dance Company hosted one of Asia’s most acclaimed ensembles, City Contemporary Dance Company from Hong Kong. The two companies performed on the same program combining the Australian Premiere of CCDC’s 365 Ways of Doing and Undoing Orientalism and the World Premiere of Flight! Both were wonders of Dance and Visual Media.y Expressions Dance Company.
“Sietsma’s new work Flight!, continues to expand her dance vocabulary, creating yet another superb work of individuality and strength…accolades must flow to all…”Stefan Treyvaud, The Courier Mail.
“Technical brilliance…explosive movement, lively sense of humour…” The Australian
Expressions toured Jigsaw and Alone Together to the Beijing Modern Dance Festival. In April, Maggi Sietsma’s Vanities Crossing was nominated for best ensemble work for the prestigious Green Room Awards. In July, the Company undertook a successful tour performing Virtually Richard3 at the Ludwigsburg Festival in Germany.
“Explosive dance theatre.” Claudia Gass, Stuttgarter Zeitung (Germany).
“The performance by Expressions Dance Company with their exceptional Virtually Richard3 is truly great, alarming and rousing theatre. We are left in amazement and admiration.” Bernd Krause, CEST Stuttgart (Germany).
Expressions presented the world premiere of Maggi Sietsma’s Rites of Spring at the ENERGEX Brisbane Festival 2002 in September.
“This is a performance from the whole Expressions team that is impressive and charismatic, and reinforces Sietsma’s reputation for originality and skill.” Rosemary Sorensen, The Courier Mail
In early 2001, the Company travelled to Europe to perform Vanities Crossing in Austria at the International Dance Festival in Linz and Alone Together in Basel, Switzerland as part of a cultural exchange with Tanz Ensemble Cathy Sharp.
“Maggi Sietsma is a master of the art of staging choreography and dramatically structured narration.” Silvia Kitzmantel, OÖNachrichten (Austria).
“The dancers and the dancing remain unforgettable.” Roswitha Reichart, Neues Volksblatt (Austria).
“Sietsma’s brilliant piece allows the moods to tilt. The vocabulary of neuroses and obsessions is spelt out playfully, humorously, wittily, it’s everyone for himself and therefore alone, together with all the others.” Rolf Bürgin, Basellandschaftliche Zeitung (Switzerland).
Upon their return to Australia Expressions Dance Company and Tanz Ensemble Cathy Sharp continued their cultural exchange program and performed at The Playhouse in Brisbane. Expressions presented Maggi Sietsma’s Behind the Wall. Expressions toured to Singapore in November 2001 to perform Vanities Crossing at the Victoria Theatre.
In May, Expressions performed its 15th anniversary season Secret Passions. This was followed by performances in Korea at the 19th International Modern Dance Festival in Seoul and at the Asian Next Wave Festival in Tokyo.
Maggi Sietsma’s Virtually Richard3 made its world premiere at ENERGEX Brisbane Festival 2000 in October followed by a tour throughout regional Queensland.
“Every component of this piece – design, lighting, sound and movement – works in harmony with the other … It is a powerful work, and one that would bear viewing a second or third time.” Denise Richardson, Dance Australia (Australia).
Expressions was presented by Made to Move in Melbourne and Sydney before travelling to the U.S.A. to perform in Philadelphia and New York in July. The Company was ecstatically received in both cities.
“The Expressions Dance Company smashed dramatic situations into smithereens and presented them as sharp choreographic fragments. This modern dance Troupe from Brisbane, Australia made a strong impression…vivid images and striking episodes…always a pleasure to watch.” Jack Anderson, The New York Times(U.S.A.).
“A dazzling tour de force… This company needs to be seen again in New York – hopefully soon!” Phyllis Goldman, Backstage – New York (U.S.A.).
August saw the world premiere season of Vanities Crossing in Brisbane, which followed with a tour to regional Queensland.
“Maggi Sietsma has extended her awesome boundaries of dance theatre (with) ‘Vanities Crossing’.” Barbara Hebden, The Sunday Mail
1998 saw the Company perform in Taiwan at the Taipei International Arts Festival. The Brisbane Festival also commissioned Expressions to create a major new production, Attitude, involving dancers from Hong Kong.
“They use their physical and ideological methods to bring out the beauty of Australian modern dance.” United Daily News – Taipei (Taiwan).
In early 1997 the Company was awarded the prestigious Sidney Myer Performing Arts Award for outstanding achievement in the performing arts. In the same year, the Company was nominated for a Green Room Award. In July the Company participated in the Karmiel Dance Festival in Israel where it received standing ovations. In October/November Expressions performed in Great Britain and Singapore as part of a highly successful four week international tour.
1996 saw Expressions perform in India as part of the India-Australia New Horizons program organised by the Australian Government and tour throughout Australia on the Made to Move touring program.
Decadances, Expressions’ 10th Anniversary season was critically and publicly acclaimed in Bonn, Germany where Expressions performed as part of Experience Australia ’95.
“An extraordinary company…Perfectly trained virtuoso dancers… Maggi Sietsma has a unique choreographic concept and style which does not fit into any pre-existing category of modern dance…” Angela Vucko, Ballett International…Tanz Actuell (Germany).
In August/September of the same year the Company travelled to Papua New Guinea to take part in a unique creation and performance project in conjunction with the Brisbane Warana Festival.
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