Image by Stefan Gosatti

WAYO announces its newest interdisciplinary venture
The details of this project are still under wraps for now, but we are thrilled to reveal that we will be collaborating with Western Australian wunderkind, Scott Elstermann.

An award-winning dancer and choreographer, 2020 WA Young Achiever of the Year for Arts and Culture, and youngest-ever international recipient (and only Australian) of the prestigious Pina Bausch Fellowship for Dance and Choreography, Scott Elstermann has a demonstrated history of creating vibrant and innovative dance works that inspire and delight. He has performed for the Merce Cunningham Trust as well as some of Australia’s leading dance artists including Lucy Guerin Inc., Stephanie Lake Company, Natalie Allen, Annette Carmichael, Shona Erskine, Brooke Leeder & Dancers and Melbourne collective Alice Will Caroline. In 2020, Scott won Best Performer (Male) and Best New Work (‘Act 2, Scenes 1-4’) at the Performing Arts WA Awards. His work ‘Act 2, Scenes 1-4’ was also a finalist for ‘Outstanding Achievement in Independent Dance’ at the nationally recognised Australian Dance Awards. We absolutely cannot wait to let you in on all the details of this exciting new venture! In the meantime, get to know Scott as we chat to him below.

Take 10 with Scott Elstermann

1. You are both an accomplished choreographer and a dancer. Tell us why you do what you do. 
I am very fortunate to do what I love everyday (as cliché as that sounds) and split my time between performing and choreographing. To be able to share my passion for dance with everyone and make wonderful creations for people to enjoy is such a pleasure. I’ve always loved to dance and now it feels more important than ever to provide an entertaining escape from the world.

2. Can you tell us about the first work you ever choreographed?
The first professional work that I choreographed was in collaboration with two friends from WAAPA called ‘Awkward Con-nections’. The show went on to win the Overall Dance &
Physical Theatre Award at Perth Fringe World Festival and tour to Melbourne Fringe Festival. It was a real eye-opener into the independent contemporary dance scene and a massive learning curve in how to self-produce.

3. What do you think makes your work uniquely your own?
I have a very versatile dance background in jazz, tap, ballroom, ballet and contemporary dance. I think all of these styles have influenced my choreography to create this sort of melting pot of genres. Some hallmarks of my works to date include rhythmic interplay, intricate gestural detail and theatricality.

4. What, outside of dance, most inspires you and/or your work?
Of late, film has been a huge inspiration. My last work ‘Act 2, Scenes 1-4’ was inspired by Wes Anderson film conventions such as stop-motion and whip pans. The result saw the dancers recreate sequences from The Grand Budapest Hotel in real-time using these techniques to drive their movement.

5. Where and how do you work? We’d love to have some insight into your process!
As a freelance independent artist, I work everywhere and anywhere from professional dance companies to tertiary institutions and high schools to corporate events and commercial entertainment. My process varies depending on the project but it generally consists of a mix of set choreography that I have created and task work inspired by movements from the dancers. I also draw a lot from imagery and sound which makes this WAYO collaboration so exciting – oh the possibilities with an entire orchestral score!

6. What is it about contemporary dance excites you?
I love how contemporary dance makes you think. It gives you non-verbal ensemble imagery that amplifies an emotion, a piece of text, music or an idea. Seeing someone move to music never gets old and I have found that contemporary dance delivers this satisfaction is such interesting and innovative ways.

7. If you could invite any artists, living or dead, to a dinner party at your house, who would they be and why?
Wes Anderson would be top of the list after my last show was based around his films. I’d love to pick his brain about his process in making a feature film and how his aesthetic has grown and evolved over his career.

8. What life event has most affected/changed your work?
In 2018, I was the first Australian and youngest-ever international dancer to receive the Pina Bausch Fellowship for Dance & Choreography. This opportunity gave me that chance to access a range of contemporary dance companies, processes and workshops in Europe. This experience opened my eyes to what is possible and sparked an urge to choreograph more.

9. What are you currently working on?
I am currently choreographing a modern adaptation of the musical ‘Into the Woods’ on the 3rd Year WAAPA Musical Theatre students. This production, directed by Nicole Stinton, takes the original storyline and recontextualises it to the Australian outback. It will be the first time the Musical Theatre department has presented a show at the State Theatre Centre of WA and it is so lovely to be invited back to WAAPA to share the skills I have learnt over the past few years with the students.

10. What’s are you most looking forward to about working with WA Youth Orchestras?
I am so excited to see how my choreography can be strengthened by 100+ instruments and bodies in space. I am also hoping to get the orchestra moving with the dancers, so stay tuned!

Thanks to the wonderful Scott Elstermann for joining us. Stay up-to-date by following our 2021 concert season here!