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Queensland producer Kate McDonald swings into APAM

The stage is set for Queensland performers as we count down to the return of the Australian Performing Arts Market (APAM) to Brisbane from 22 – 26 February 2016. As the leading industry event for contemporary performing artists in the Australian and Asia Pacific Region, APAM increases national and global opportunities for performing artists and arts groups by connecting them with agents, buyers and industry peers. To mark the event's return to Brisbane, we are profiling the participating Queensland performers and groups to give you an insight into their practice, and what to expect from their showcases this month! 

First up in the hot seat is Kate McDonald from The Inaugural Annual Dance Affair – an immersive all-ages theatre performance inspired by the rise and fall of the social dance scene from the 1920s to today. If you’re a lover of dance, make sure you catch this talented group at APAM, and remember to don your dancing shoes because this site-specific, audience-participatory event is sure to have you dancing the day away. Now, with the tap of our heels, we introduce you to this talented Gold Coast producer…



You previously showcased The Inaugural Annual Dance Affair at the Bleach* Festival in 2015.
Do you find that audience participation in the performance is a challenge or easy to achieve?

The audience totally embraced it! Participation is at the heart of the performance. How the audience interacted with the work was something we really considered in its creation.

How does where you live affect your art?

I create work that is community based and site-specific, so to be able to make work first in my own community, and with locals,  is really fulfilling.


Is there a running theme to the work you create, or do you just make whatever comes to mind?

At the moment I am working with a collective of two other artists Ian Pidd and Bec Reid on series of large-scale performance experiences inspired and informed by social dance and everyday dance experiences. The Inaugural Annual Dance Affair was the first of these, and there are plans for other spectacle and smaller scale works to be premiered on the Gold Coast over the next few years.

Do you have a favourite travel memory / place/ story that inspired a work?

Inaugural Annual Dance Affair started when I met an 89-year old woman on the Gold Coast, Josie Willet, who had been playing in dance bands since she was 16 years old. She had such an inspiring story, including overcoming many adversities, and how music and social dance continued to be tightly woven into her personal narrative. We were able to weave those real stories of people and place into the performance.


When did you first consider yourself a full-time artist/ cultural worker/ producer?

Hmmm, I have never really stopped long enough to notice the transition! I have been fortunate to be busy full-time in the arts for a long time now, so I’m pretty grateful to have consistently worked on fabulous projects with amazing artists, collaborators and arts organisations.


What’s the most surprising reaction to your work you've received?
And in terms of working collaboratively, what is it that you bring to the equation?

In this type of work, often the cast and audience are not too sure what to expect, so there is an element of surprise around ‘wow look what we have been a part of and created’.  It’s always pretty satisfying to see a community and an audience immerse themselves in the unexpected. 


What’s the coolest art tip you’ve ever received?

My collaborator Ian Pidd gave me this art tip: “There are three plays/ shows: the one you set out to make, the one that you do make, and the one that the audience teaches you that you have made.” I find this really good to keep in mind throughout a process, especially for large scale works where the project no doubt morphs along the way.

As a Queensland producer, what do you hope to achieve by taking part in APAM 2016?

Of course we hope to create relationships and networks that would see ongoing presentations of this particular work, but also to start friendships and conversations for future projects and collaborations. I’m also passionate about sharing the story of the arts and cultural community of the Gold Coast, and talking about the great work that is happening here that people might not expect. It’s a city to have your eyes on!


APAM delegates can catch The Inaugural Annual Dance Affair on 26 February, 12:05pm – 12:25 pm (20 min) at the Shopfront, Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts. Join the conversation via #APAM2016. 

Connect with The Inaugural Annual Dance Affair via Instagram or their website.

Check out our other Q&A Profiles with the Queensland artists/companies showcasing at APAM in 2016: The FarmLiesel Zink, Luke Jaaniste, Circa.