Dancenorth premieres Wayfinder, a post-pandemic celebration of art, music, dance and knitting

The humble art of knitting rarely gets a spotlight, but a new performance from one of Australia’s leading dance companies literally puts it on stage.

Dancenorth premiered its production of Wayfinder at the North Australian Festival of Arts in Townsville, where contemporary dance, music and art intertwine.

More than 100 volunteers came together in a series of “knitting sessions” to create the wool set and props, which are incorporated into the choreography.

Dancenorth performers rehearse Wayfinder, which premiered at the North Australian Festival of Arts. ABC North Qld: Lily Nothling

“Numerous balls of wool were used in the making of this show,” says associate designer Chloe Greaves.

“Wayfinder as work is about finding connection after COVID, and it’s the idea that the people of Townsville’s energy and spirit are literally woven into the work with their fingers.”

A dancer sits on stage holding five long colored strands of wool
Wayfinder interweaves contemporary dance, music and art. Delivered: Dancenorth

The show is a creative collaboration of great proportions.

Wayfinder features the music of Grammy-nominated Melbourne-based band Hiatus Kaiyote and Southern artist Byron Scullin, alongside the colorful artworks of acclaimed Japanese-Australian visual artist Hiromi Tango.

One hundred speaker “orbs” will be scattered throughout the audience, allowing light and music to pulse through the crowd.

A dancer dressed in green does a headstand on a pile of colorful knitted wool
The dance company hopes to tour Wayfinder internationally when the world reopens after COVID.Delivered: Dancenorth

“The idea was born after the pandemic and we recognize the fact that there is so much fear and so much fear and so much isolation and distance in the world.

“We wanted to create an offering that really contradicted the experience people have had over the past two years, so this is a gift, it’s a beacon of hope.”

Ms Greaves said the suits are all made from donated and recycled garments and the wool was purchased from stores.

“Everything is second-hand and durable and also has a life already, which is quite exciting because it talks about the journey of work,” she said.

A woman laughs while sewing a piece of orange fabric on a sewing machine
Designer Chloe Greaves created the costumes for the performance from donated and recycled garments. ABC News: Steve Keen

Following its local debut in Townsville, Wayfinder will be showing at the Brisbane Festival in September, and the company plans to tour internationally.

Dancer Marlo Benjamin said the performance was unlike anything she’d participated in before.

“It’s a really nice escape and vision for the future.”

Dancers were stacked against each other with their arms stretched out above them
Dancenorth, based in Townsville, is one of Australia’s leading contemporary dance companies. ABC North Qld: Lily Nothling

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