Interview with Nerida Matthaei, choreographer, performer, artistic director of Phluxus2 Dance Collective

Nerida Matthaei is bringing Angel-Monster to Edinburgh Festival Fringe. It's their first time performing at the festival, and we talk about the appeal of the fringe, how they started their career, and what you can expect from the show.

Interview with Nerida Matthaei, choreographer, performer, artistic director of Phluxus2 Dance Collective

Could you first introduce yourself to the reader?

My name is Nerida Matthaei. I am a choreographer and performer based in Brisbane, Australia and I am also the artistic director of Phluxus2 Dance Collective.

How would you describe your show?

Angel-Monster invites you into a space caught in a cross-hairs: halfway between your bedroom floor at 3am and an otherworldly limbo. Inside a field of laundry, explosive choreography combusts as an army of dancers explore the dreams, the nightmares, the tremble and the limits of the female experience.

Sex, consent, violence and empowerment crash-tackle together in a full-femme-full-bodied conversation where the agenda is equality, ownership and individuality.

This is visceral, confessional, contemporary dance from one of Australia's most prolific dance-theatre artists. Angel-Monster is a portrait, a requiem and a call to arms for angels and monsters alike.

Why do you want to perform at Edinburgh Festival Fringe?

I came to the fringe quite a few years back, sleeping on the apartment floor of some friends who were performing that year. I loved how open people were to seeing as much work as possible, and the buzz around creativity and performance that engulfed the city. From then to now it's been a goal of mine to one day bring one of my works to the festival and this year is finally the year.

What differentiates it from other festivals?

I think the energy, openness and sheer saturation of artists has to be second to none. To be a part of that, as a creator, as a performer and as a lover of live performance is something quite special – especially after the last few years that we have had.

What first motivated you to enter the industry? Who were your inspirations?

I have always danced, always been creative and always been athletic. The combination of these three loves led me to contemporary dance and contemporary choreographic practice. As a young person it took me some time to find my place, to settle in so to speak, and once I discovered dancing I was able to connect with myself and then others.

How has your background, upbringing and education had an impact on your artistic career? 

As a young person I had the privilege of having access to see performances by some incredible companies who really inspired me. This led me to fall in love with dancing from a young age, and it has never left me. Through my training in youth companies, to undergrad degrees, honours and finally a doctorate of choreography I have been able to learn from and collaborate with many incredible artists and practitioners. This kind of curiosity remains within my practice and I seek to learn and experiment everyday.

What is your earliest childhood art memory?

Creating a performance piece in my friends lounge room wearing goggles and flippers.

If you didn’t have your current job, what would you probably be doing?

There is nothing else for me. I like to think that I see the world consistently through a choreographic lens… meaning I can always see artistic potential in all facets of life, and so, this ‘job’ is the way I interact with my everyday life. I know I will always be able to find a creative angle that will keep me doing what I do.

Did Covid-19 change the way you create work? Do you approach shows with a different mentality now? 

Looking back I guess I was forced a re-think. Being independent artists we are very used to finding creative solutions to complex problems, often in limiting circumstances. So in a way, the fluidity and shifting nature of dealing with the last few years was more readily accessible than perhaps for others – as devastating and debilitating as it was. I continued to choreograph in my basement, and when we could we started meeting in parks to train and this eventuated in a short dance film we premiered earlier this year, Proximal. I also spent many hours dreaming and writing the many grants that have led us to Edinburgh this year. I think that I now am more conscious of finding more time to sit into the process and enjoy the time we have and setting stress aside. We have learnt some hard lessons in fragility and being as caring and joyful as possible is a high priority.

Describe the last year in 5 words or less?

two feet first

Do you subscribe to the idea that art should be exempt from ‘cancel culture’? 

I do not subscribe to the concept of ‘cancel culture’

If you could work with anybody, from any point in history, who would you pick and why?

So many… some that have come to mind recently are Frida Khalo and Pina Bausch. Both were catalyst female artists who were change making.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to take a show up to the fringe?

Be brave. Be confident. Do it for you. That is at least what I am telling myself. This is my first time bringing my own creation to Fringe… so I am still figuring this out for myself!

When and where can people see your show?

Angel-Monster is playing at Assembly Checkpoint from 3rd to 28th August, 1510.

https://assemblyfestival.com/whats-on/angel-monster

And where can people find, follow and like you online?

https://www.facebook.com/Phluxus2DanceCollective

https://www.instagram.com/phluxus2dance/

Tik Tok - @phluxus2dance

Twitter - @neridancer


See Angel-Monster at Assembly during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe from 3-28 August. For more information and tickets visit www.edfringe.com or www.assemblyfestival.com

Author

Tom Inniss

Tom Inniss Voice Team

Tom is the Editor of Voice. He is a politics graduate and holds a masters in journalism, with particular interest in youth political engagement and technology. He is also a mentor to our Voice Contributors, and champions our festivals programme, including the reporter team at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

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