Dancenorth experiment fills in the blanks

Media release

Next week Dancenorth opens their tour of the double bill ‘If _ Was _’

Tour performance dates and locations

  • 9–11 June, Dancenorth, Townsville
  • 15 June, Mackay Entertainment Centre
  • 16 June Proserpine Entertainment Centre 
  • 23–25 June, Judith Wright Centre, Brisbane
  • 29 June – 2 July, the Substation, Melbourne

Delve into the fanciful and illusionary worlds of two extraordinary choreographers, Stephanie Lake and Ross McCormack, as they fall down the rabbit hole of imagination and fill in the blanks for Dancenorth’s most recent double bill.

Female dancer dressed in green leans towards her own shadow cast across the grass.Photo: Amber Haines

Dancenorth Artistic Director Kyle Page set the challenge for each artist to select sound from the one sound score, create costumes from one pattern, utilise lighting from one design and work to a set duration. It is within these parameters that If_Was_ comes to life.

'If _ Was _ is a big dance experiment, we set a clear framework for Stephanie and Ross and literally invited each of them to fill in the blanks'.

'Stephanie and Ross are two of the most extraordinary choreographic talents of our time and they will each generate something profoundly different in response to the equal limitations', said Page.

'The human mind is biologically predisposed to draw from a personal library of thoughts and feelings to generate unique interpretation, we each draw upon past experiences to create sensory representations of objects, concepts and ideas', said Page.

Hosting Lake and McCormack in Townsville to create the double bill is a bold move that reflects the vision of Dancenorth to be a collaborative and creative hub for choreographic development and research that supports risk and innovation to extend dance as an art form.

Stephanie Lake describes her new work as a surreal hive of buzzing life reflecting the beauty and brutality of the natural world.

From marching automatons to wild hybrid creatures, this work and the dancers within it are continually transmuting and being affected by their rapidly changing conditions. It's about survival, symbiosis and rebirth. Through intricate choreography and vivid imagery the dancers incubate a strange world of their own making with a desperate forward momentum.

'Dancenorth is one of the most exciting companies in Australia right now. It's incredibly energised, youthful, smart and prolific', said Stephanie.

'The dancers and collaborators are all amazing artists in their own right and bring so much to the creative process', said Stephanie. 

'If Form Was Shifted’ is the title of Ross McCormack’s new work, a virtuosic reflection of the thought process structured through group manipulation.

'What interests me is to watch the body at odds with its purpose, this is where I try to orientate most of my movement. I see the body as a device grappling with its complexities and place, how it rather unnaturally manipulates itself is somehow spectacular yet also pathetic', said Ross.

'If Form Was Shifted is foremost a collaboration between myself the Dancenorth dancers and composer Robin Fox', said Ross.

'Dancenorth has supported my work since 2009, each time hugely different from the last. The current team is quite unique which made this opportunity impossible to miss. Their enormous capacity physically and conceptual understanding provokes a huge artistic challenge to anyone’s artistic ideology', said Ross.

Dancenorth is supported by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body; the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland, Townsville City council and the Tim Fairfax Foundation.

Interviews available upon request with

  • Kyle Page
  • Stephanie Lake
  • Ross McCormack

Photos provided available at higher resolution


STEPHANIE LAKE is a multi award-winning Australian choreographer, dancer and director of Stephanie Lake Company. Stephanie’s major choreographic works including Double Blind, DUAL, A Small Prometheus, AORTA and Mix Tape have been presented by Theatre National de Chaillot (Paris), Theater im Pfalzbau (Germany), Dublin Dance Festival, Tramway (Glasgow), M1 CONTACT Festival (Singapore), Aarhus Festival (Denmark) Melbourne Festival, Sydney Festival, Dance Massive, Arts House, Sydney Opera House, Theatre Royal and Carriageworks among others. In 2014 Stephanie was awarded both the Helpmann Award (A Small Prometheus) and Australian Dance Award (AORTA) for Outstanding Choreography. She also won the Green Room Award for Mix Tape in 2011. In 2013 Stephanie was appointed inaugural Resident Director of Lucy Guerin Inc, which included working as Guerin’s choreographic assistant at Lyon Opera Ballet. Stephanie received a prestigious Sidney Myer Creative Fellowship in the same year and the Dame Peggy Van Praagh Choreographic Fellowship in 2012.  

Stephanie has been commissioned by Sydney Dance Company, Chunky Move, Tasdance, Stompin, Frontier Danceland (Singapore), Sydney Symphony and many times by the Victorian College of the Arts. She collaborates across theatre, film & TV, visual art and music video and has directed several large-scale public works involving over 1000 participants. Her performance career spans fifteen years, touring and dancing extensively with Gideon Obarzanek's Chunky Move and Lucy Guerin Inc as well as Antony Hamilton & Byron Perry, Anouk Van Dijk and Phillip Adams' BalletLab. 

ROSS McCORMACK graduated from the New Zealand School of Dance in 2001. He has worked with Douglas Wright Dance Company and the Royal New Zealand Ballet. Australian Dance Theatre.  In 2005 Ross won the Sir Robert Helpman Award for his performance in the work Held.

From 2004 Ross has worked for extensively with Alain Platel at Les Ballets C de la B in Belgium. In 2011/12 Ross performed with Australia’s Chunky Move touring Connected to the United States, In 2012  Ross joined MelbouMelbourne-based company Lucy Guerin and Dancers to tour perform in Untrained at BAM in New York England and Ireland. In 2013/14/15 Ross rejoined Les Ballets for Alian Platels new creation TauberBach.

Ross has been commissioned to choreograph several short works for New Zealand companies: (sex) (2012) and Stealth (2009), Footnote Dance; SUM- (2011),New Zealand School of Dance; and Nga hau e wha: Papa Nuku (2011), Okareka Dance Company. In Australia Ross choreographed his first full-length work Nowhere Fast (2009) for Dancenorth, Townsville, which toured to the Macau Arts Festival; [SIC] (2011) Dancenorth; and short work I said HaHa (2011) for Link Dance Company. AGE  2013/14 was Ross's first full lfull-lengthin New Zealand AGE was commissioned with the help of CNZ and the 2014 International Festival In Wellington. 2015/16 Premiered a new work Triumphs and Other Alternatives in Wellington which toured to Auckland and Sydney. In 2016  commissioned and premiered The Weight of Force at the Hong Kong Arts Festival. Ross the most recent recipient of the CNZ choreographic fellowship in New Zealand.

About Dancenorth

Dancenorth is a contemporary dance company based in Townsville, Tropical North Queensland making outstanding, bold, new critically acclaimed work. As a major champion of the arts Dancenorth balances a dynamic regional presence with a commitment to creating compelling professional contemporary dance that tours the globe.

Dancenorth is a collaborative and creative hub for choreographic development and research that makes a significant contribution to cultural development by valuing and supporting risk and innovation as a means of extending dance as an art form.

Under the Artistic Direction of Kyle Page, Dancenorth delivers an ambitious and far-reaching program of engagement including the creation and presentation of new work, national and international touring, development opportunities for local dancers and choreographers and national and international residencies and exchanges.

Dancenorth is supported by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body; the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland, Townsville City council and the Tim Fairfax Foundation.