#132 Joseph Simons – 100 Years of the History of Dance………………..

Have a play date with your body as I talk with Joseph Simons, dancer, choreographer, performer and co-creator of the high acclaimed and must-see Fringe World show ‘100 Years of The History Of Dance As Told By One Man In 60 Minutes With An Energetic Group Finale

Joseph talks about growing up in a highly artist family and how the draw to attend Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) first brought him to WA.

He then goes on to tell the story behind the creation of the History of Dance solo show, which so beautifully spans so many facets of all things dance, and how it has developed to place it is now.

The conversation doesn’t end there. We then explore the life of a dancer and how Joseph’s body is his instrument as an artist. We talk about his relationship with his body, functionality vs aesthetics and the benefits of exploration of movement.

Joseph is wonderfully engaging and his energy and humour shine throughout the conversation. By listening to this you will come to realise that dance is for everyone and there no better place to start that in your bedroom with only your radio as company.

http://www.thehistoryofdanceshow.com/

Read Full Transcript

Bryn 

Have a play date with your body. As I talk with Joseph Simon’s dancer, choreographer, performer and co creator of the highly acclaimed a must see fringe world show the history of dance as told by one man in 60 minutes with an energetic group finale.

 

Joseph 

Exactly.

 

Bryn 

Joseph talks about growing up in a highly artistic family and how the draw to attend the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts Whopper first brought him to who he then goes on to tell the story behind the creation of the history of dance solo show. We so beautifully spans so many facets of all things dance, and how it has developed to the place it is now. The conversation doesn’t end with an explore the life of a dancer and how Joseph’s body is his instrument. As an artist, we talk about his relationship with his body functionality versus aesthetics and the benefits of exploration of movement. Joseph is wonderfully Engaging, and his energy and humour shine through the conversation. By listening to this, you will come to realise that dance is for everyone. And there’s no better place to start. And then your bedroom with only your radio was company. So enjoy, Joseph.

 

Bryn 

Hello and welcome back to wi rail. I’m your host Bryn Edwards,

 

Bryn 

the world of dance. Well 100 years of the history of dance is where we’re going to today with my guest,

 

Joseph 

Joseph Simmons. Hi, Well, good morning. Hi, Joseph. Simon’s even Simon. No, that’s fine. Now si m o ns Simon’s

 

Joseph 

No, you know what is interesting. Is that my sister Jessica Simon’s married Trent Simmons. Right. And so her name went from Simon’s to Simmons over the course of a wedding. And of course, that was the the joke of the year.

 

Bryn 

Indeed. Yeah.

 

Bryn 

So one of the things I like to ask my guests right at the start, and thank you very much taking the time to talk hi

 

Joseph 

You’re super busy. In fringe and every Thank you for having me. Yes, we are

 

Bryn 

in season in season. And so one of the like set one of the questions I like to ask my guests right start is their relationship with Western Australia,

 

Joseph 

right? Because you’re not originally from w I’m not originally from wha but I know it well and I love it very much. Was that. Okay? So I, so I grew up in dubbo, young South Wales, I would say a little country town, they call themselves a city. And I grew up in Dumbo until the age of 18. And I always had my mind on the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts known as wapa. And when I say I always was aware of it, I think I was aware of it from sort of, you know, 1314 year olds. Were a go at my dance school. I went to my ballet studio and there was a girl Who was one of the seniors called Emma Canada Lacey? And she went to wapa. to, to train in dance. And I was like, Huh, what’s fast and, you know, eventually sort of did some reading and all of that. You know, this is the sort of the, the very early, you know, late 90s, early noughties, and, you know, I was looking at magazines, you know, let’s dance Australia magazines that seemed to mention Walker a lot. And so I was like, okay, that seems like an interesting place. And so when I finished high school, I was fortunate enough to get into the water dance course, and so headed straight over to Perth. To follow in Emma catalyses footsteps. And interestingly, of course, Anaconda Lacey and I have now become very close friends and and collaborators. And we have this water connection. Yeah, so I moved to Perth in 2006, the beginning of 2006 and began three year course here in dance at wapa, which I just loved, absolutely adored that and and really sort of was just milking the course because I was discovering all of this stuff about dance that I didn’t know. I knew that I liked dance and knew that I enjoyed dancing. But, but yet Perth sort of opened all of that to me. I then after the three year course, stuck around in Perth for a few more years, performing with West Australian ballet. So I am delighted now I haven’t been back to Perth for quite some time. And I’m delighted now to be able to bring mine and Emma’s show back to Perth, back for Perth audiences. And yeah being back in this fabulous a sunny and currently very hot state.

 

Bryn 

What is it about That you enjoy. Obviously, you were drawn by Walker.

 

Joseph 

I was I was drawn to Perth because of wapa Yeah, not because I wanted to move to

 

Bryn 

Paris.

 

Joseph 

But I very quickly discovered. I mean, you have to imagine that for me, I’d spent 18 years in one small town. Yes. And alkalosis magic capital is Sydney and and you know, I love Sydney for its different reasons. But Perth for me is now in my memory. It’s my first independent home. It’s It’s It’s the city where I, you know, I turned 19 and I was living away from my parents and, and studying and all of that. And so yeah, Perth holds a very special memory for me, right in terms of Yeah, the place where I sort of grew up and the place where I sort of grew into the much more the person that I am now with regards to my training and my network and contacts and friendship circles. Perth is really the beginning of a lot of that. And and yeah, and then of course you don’t why do I love? I love the weather and I love the beaches. Yeah, like it’s it’s a beautiful city. I love it very much I’ve lived in, you know, Mount loli close to the campus. I’ve lived in frio as well. And I just I just find this city really attractive and fun and full of really interesting people. As I’m sure you’ve discovered us,

 

Bryn 

indeed. So you’re a dancer, performer, choreographer,

 

Bryn 

Director ballet

 

Bryn 

told the world Olympics fashion Yes, there’s a lot there. You know, I was looking at the buyers Hi. Oh,

 

Bryn 

my God. Health podcast is reading it out. And well. Yes.

 

Bryn 

Where does all this come from?

 

Bryn 

God, Glory like a little boy. Double Yes. Where did it come from?

 

Joseph 

Okay, well, I guess it all really comes from. So my mother’s Sharon Simon’s is an incredible woman. She was a musician. And, and her mother, my grandmother before that was an incredible piano player. So, so Nan Don Whiteley, who very interestingly passed away about three days ago. And so where we’re in a current state of sort of really remembering her and and her life she was an incredible piano player who, who played a lot for this award time dances around regional New South Wales and and all of that, her daughter, my mom, Sharon, is also an magnificent piano player taught by her mom and Sharon became a bit of a local pop star. I’m going to sort of mildly say she had an album A record of course, in the, in the 70s. And, and, you know, she had a song that like, got to number three on the chart, you know, all of those things and so she she’s always been really musical and, and all of that and that has naturally sort of tend her towards amateur theatre and that sort of thing. But when I came along in my I’m the youngest of three, I have two older sisters. And we all discovered that we were all quite strong singers from a you know, a long line of sort of musical talent and so, by the time I was about, I would have been about four when my mom put together the Simon’s trio, which is myself, my two sisters and we and we would sing you know songs You know, full three part harmony at the age for somewhere between like the Von Trapp family and the Partridge Family. Right? I would say and that, that we used to travel around New South Wales performing at functions and events and that sort of thing. We had major cute factor, because we’re all from the ages of, you know, four to four to eight. And and so we did that for a couple of years with my mom Sharon, playing, you know, the piano behind us and we were singing all these songs and people loved us. That was my first step into the stage. Yes, and endless boys. I love it. I like I was I enjoyed attention. I think ism. Yeah, I enjoyed the the, the art of standing on stage and having people watch something that you’d worked on. I liked that. And so You know, by the time I was in school, which by the way, I did a, you know, one of those sort of personality tests that they do at the beginning of kindergarten for school, and they sort of, you know, work out what kind of kids you are, I believe my report said overconfident which really does, you know, that describes a lot. So, so I went to school and you know, just loved being sort of theatrical and, and an over the top. And very quickly, my parents decided to put all three of us children into dance class, right. I took to it like Dr. Water and eventually, my two sisters sort of dropped out of dance I’ve a couple of years. I just never did. And so and so coming to, you know, then dancing right through my teen years, you know, jazz ballet. Tap contemporary dance.

 

Joseph 

By the time I was 18, I was completely sure that being on stage is, was the right thing for me. But I had all these other interests other than dance. So dancing was always, you know, my first sort of training in being on stage and being comfortable on stage, as well as singing obviously, with the Simon’s trailer. And, and, and those things. Well, I was really interested in acting, I was fascinated with, you know, behind the scenes stuff when both Theatre and Film and all of that so, and then coming to Warper, which is a Performing Arts Academy, where there is just people of all kinds of genres all around you. There’s a stage management course there’s a musical theatre course acting, of course, design and music and all of that and so having friends and colleagues around me studying those things as well I just learned so much more than just my course because I was dipping into what are you guys working on? What are you doing all the time. And so what came out of you know graduating Walker was just a really well rounded interest in a whole lot of different art forms. And, and I’ve been extremely fortunate to dip into all sorts of different things and you know, fashion came along a little later. Because as as we know, dance is a really visual form. And so by the time social media and Instagram really was was taking off, I managed to ride that in an interesting way because dance photography is very popular and a lot of people find it really interesting. And so you know, working with different photographers and Having a lot of different images you know being shot all over the world because I often would do photo shoots while on tour with different photographers, so a lot of New York and LA and London and and so those photos allowed me to gain a bit of a following for different fashion designers and different things who would invite me to come and do a photoshoot for a campaign or whatever because they thought that it would be interesting to have a dancer in there in a fashion campaign. And the first of these was tiny meta CHATZKY who’s an incredible Australian fashion designer who contacted me literally via Instagram. Just saying hey, I like your photos. I think you’ve having a male dancer in my next shoot. Tony meta chesky mostly does a lot of really high end, women’s fashion, a lot of gown. And in dresses. And so he had the idea for having a male dancer in his, in one of his sort of campaigns. And so I came and worked with him and discovered a really interesting collaborative spirit between the two of us. And eventually I was soon as directing some of his work. So being behind the camera, and, and starting to work in those things as well. Which was always part of my interest as well because on top of arts, I love bossing people around. And and so, you know, directing and choreographing and and creating the load creating things that get attention and bossing people around. Yeah, yeah. And so and so and so the artist perfect for the intro. Yeah, because I, I now, you know, in the last more recent years are able to really transition into being on the other side of the desk a little bit more creative team. So being either a director, choreographer, or both, you know, helping workouts, design of things. All of that is of particular interest to me nowadays. And so, so yeah, I’ve been able to work through being on stage and being that attention seeker and now eventually starting to turn that round to creating work that’s sometimes I’m involved in, in a performance capacity and sometimes I’m not and I love both of them.

 

Bryn 

So if we look at the show that you’ve brought, here,

 

Joseph 

yes, 100 years of the history of dance has told by one man in 60 minutes with an energetic group finale, that is the best part. It’s a it’s it’s a lengthy time. It’s like you know what, it does what it says on the can. It

 

Bryn 

does Because, you know, I could say can you give me a quick overview of it and you kind of already have done with the title

 

Joseph 

kind of really captures that except to say the title is sort of

 

Bryn 

I,

 

Joseph 

I’m really proud of that title because it’s kind of wonderfully deceiving. It’s exactly what it says on the cat. Although it is it is also, the second that the show begins, we start diverting away from this, this concept of the what the title is describing. It’s about a 17 year old school boy named Jacob, who is obsessed with dance, and he is doing an oral presentation. He’s been challenged to do a one hour oral presentation on the subject of his choice. He has chosen to do a century of dance and the most influential choreographers of the last hundred years, and he tells us this story while demonstrate They’re their signature moves. And, and yeah, so this, this show started about two years ago 2017 when I was really fortunate to have a, again, Instagram. I got an email from scramming man for good. It really, for, in my instance. Yeah, it really has. So I got an email from a man saying, hello, I’ve found you on social media and, and been, you know, sort of looking at your website and all of those things. Would you be interested in making a show in New York. So this, this came out of in 2013, I won the tenure lica fellowship, which is given to one Australian cartographer every two years to travel to Berlin to do a residency there at other studios in the When I had one that fellowship, which was rather incredible and went to Berlin, and I made a new, I made my first solo show there. It was called First things first. And I, you know, made that show, I toured it around Australia, it also does a little bit of international touring. And, and this was the show that this man had sort of discovered. So he contacted me saying, first things first looked amazing and interesting. To be honest, he asked, How much did it cost to make that? And I was like, Oh, well, you know, that’s really hard to describe because, you know, I had a fellowship for residency in Berlin and I, you know, I can’t really describe it is like, Okay, how much would you need to make another solo show? And so I was like, that’s an impossible question and

 

Joseph 

$9 million, like, Yes, sir. It’s hard to Talk about that. And of course, I didn’t take him seriously when he first contacted me. So, so I was like, Okay, I’m, let’s have a Skype plays man who I knew who I don’t know who lives in, in America. And let’s talk about this and he’s like, absolutely, just let you know, I’m completely serious and I’d like to, you know, help the creation of a new show if I can. So, we had a shot. Scott amazing. His name is Martin. And he and I instantly had this incredible connection. Which, you know, I love Stephen Sondheim and all of his musicals and and theatre. And Martin was like, Oh, yes, Stevens, a good friend. And I was like, Oh, I’m sorry. Okay, just like, Oh, yeah, I knew I was pushing. Well, he said, Well, he said, Well, I am. I gave Stephen a theatre for his 17th birthday. Anyway, hang on. I’m sorry. Are we talking about the Stephen Sondheim Theatre on Broadway? And is that yes, yes, I we had it remodelled and named after him for his birthday. I’m like, oh, you’re a big player. I understand. And so. So that that was that changed the angle of the conversation when he was like, Look, I you know, I put money into different shows and, and, and different, you know, some shows that make it to Broadway and some that don’t but, you know, that’s what I do and he’s a financial man. No, no talented in the arts industry, but enormous amount of interest and, and philanthropic, you know, personality. And so, he said, once we realised that, you know, we were serious about this, then we decided to start talking about The creation of a new show, he asked me to pitch three ideas for a new show. One of them was a school boy giving the history of dance as a presentation. And and he said, Yep, that sounds like the one that sounds like the kind of show that needs to be made in New York, because you can use the Lincoln centre library, you could interview actual people who are connected to the choreographers that you want to talk to, etc. I also had the advantage of my good friend, Mr. Ken Alessi, the girl who went to walk up before and I did who had been living in New York. So I went to New York, I met up with Mr. And said, here’s the idea for the show. Will you help me and an emery and I co wrote this script together. She’s also the director of the show. I became the performer of the solo work. And we started creating Jacob and we started researching an enormous amount A fascinating dance history that even though both of us were University trains, dances, a lot of stories that we didn’t know. And, and some really exciting stuff that really got us going. And so cramming it into the script and

 

Joseph 

and we did a development in New York

 

Joseph 

to a select group of audience members who really loved it and felt that it had potential and was able to give a lot of great feedback. We then did the same thing in London, where we did script development there. We also do the script development in Brisbane, which is where I’m now based for a select group of audience members. And that brought the script to where it is now we did a national tour in 2019. Around the most of the original to just to sort of get it on its face and and really see where it’s And now now we’re here in Perth. And it’s um and it’s a real show and it’s and it’s official and I am so very proud of it.

 

Bryn 

It’s an incredible opportunity to actually

 

Bryn 

as I listen to you actually deep dive into all the history yes of dance to actually be given having listened to listen to you before about what the arts means to you then to have the opportunity to deep dive into it speak to all the people read all the books. Yes. Do all the research is just too poor. I mean, I went to see the I went to see the preview performance. Yeah, Monday. Yeah. And it’s it’s

 

Bryn 

like Wikipedia, on steroids in front of your eyes. Absolutely notion.

 

Joseph 

It’s, I’m glad you’ve said emotion because it’s it’s interesting. You the very first draft of the script was like, Wikipedia on stage. Yes. Meaning the dullest. Yeah. For things like and then they did this and then they do it on this date they did. Yeah. I can see I’d have to start with that. Absolutely. That’s that’s exactly falling to refine and then put humour in. Absolutely. And it was just,

 

Bryn 

it was just amazing just covered, you know, I feel like I really know about dance now well, as well as been thoroughly entertaining parents along and they’re still talking about it is very, very special.

 

Joseph 

I think that um, that that seems to be the the overriding sentiment from from audience members. Firstly, that I didn’t know what to expect. But now that I’ve seen the title did tell although the title Do you know describe a certain certain amount of detail, but the but the overriding sentiment is certainly I didn’t even know much about dance or even I didn’t like dance. But Wow. Hasn’t it been an interesting, you know, bunch of people who have shaped and change choreography over time and, and they find it genuinely interesting. The thing that I love about that is that for me, of course, this is a play about dance. But actually, this is not a play about dance. This is about being 17. Yeah, it’s about being obsessed with something. And it’s about what you’re going to do with your life and legacy. Because Because and that’s exactly why I wanted to make a character who was 17 I mean, as we talked about, I finished high school and moved to Perth to train and Whopper and Jacob. The character is, you know, in his final year of school, he is contemplating what What’s next? You know, 17 is this, you know, knife edge moment in everyone’s life where you’re about to finish, you know, school, the thing that you’ve been doing basically your whole life up until that point. And what you’re going to do next is completely up to you. You know, and so for Jacob, the these heroes of his he’s so obsessed with dance and he certainly knows a normal amount about them about these, these influential choreographers way more than I knew at 17. He’s a very sophisticated young man, budget he he knows all about these these heroes and he can describe their lives in hindsight 20. What he can’t do is talk about himself and what he’s going to do next because the unknown from his side. He hasn’t done any of it yet. He can talk about the fabulousness of people who have, you know, Bob Fosse He has created this enormous body of work and, and he’s so loved and even Well, after his death is still a household name. You know, that’s what Jacob wants. But he can’t work out how to do that from age 17. Yeah. And so this is playing after the show. Absolutely. And and so the writing of this play for both myself and Emma was about, you can study your heroes all you like, but it doesn’t make your own path any clearer. And so and so that is what that is actually what the play is about. And I think that people actually grabbing on to that. On top of just all of the fascinating facts. Yeah, the dance world, but I think people can relate to that. And the dancing itself. Oh,

 

Bryn 

yes. Which is wow, to watch.

 

Joseph 

Well, thank you. I’m, I’m trained.

 

Joseph 

Yeah, but I am I think that, uh, yeah, I mean, the other obvious part of this show is that I am I’m a bit of a fiend for a lot of different styles of dance. And so my body is able to transform genre, Euro style,

 

Bryn 

yeah,

 

Joseph 

with quite a bit of A’s. And so creating a show which allowed as a vehicle to, to, to show off that so from doing, you know, a 1920s, Martha Graham, you know, contemporary dance right through to, you know, Paula Abdul music video or a Rudolph new era of classical ballet variation. Yeah. able to throw that all into one show. With a pretty exciting, it’s another

 

Bryn 

year as well.

 

Joseph 

It’s Yes, it is. It is a show for me. And what’s now become part of that is now finding other cast members who can do that. And for this Perth season, we have been very fortunate to find two incredible new Young Australian performers Trent Sinclair and Andrew Longo, who have just in the last few weeks launched the show, and, and will be performing it with me on alternating nights throughout this season. That is the beginning of the show having a much bigger life. Like, you know, legacy itself. And for for me to to be able to not have to be the only person in the world who knows this show. Because if I can’t do a show with injury or illness or whatever, the show has to be cancelled. If, if I’m the only person who can do it, so, so it became a matter of finding some other Jacobs and these are young men. What

 

Bryn 

was it like? Jacob Oh,

 

Joseph 

it was a very interesting experience. Not something that I’ve done before. The first time that I’ve done anything

 

Bryn 

like that can use you must have been quite fit, you know you’ve developed?

 

Joseph 

Yeah, I mean, yes, it was, it was written by me it was made for me.

 

Joseph 

You know, it was made on me.

 

Joseph 

So, yeah.

 

Bryn 

How much is how much of Jacob is Joseph and how much of Joseph is jack?

 

Joseph 

I don’t think that you can rise.

 

Joseph 

I don’t think anyone can write a character that doesn’t have some of themselves in it. I would like to think that there’s not a lot of Jacob in me. I don’t think that’s true. I think that I think that I mean, Jacob does not have the knowledge that I had at 17. He is certainly way more sexually mature than I was at 17. Or at least sexually aware. Jacob is very much a 17 year old in 2020 Yes, more than, you know, when when I was 17 and in 2004 or five Yeah. You know, we’re on the other side of marriage equality and and all of those things. And so, coming out and sexuality and all of those things. I actually, I think that perhaps there is an element of me creating Jacob as the Joseph that I wished with 17 in perhaps some, some way. So there is, there is certainly an element of Joseph in the character of Jacob, but about you coming back to teaching this to other to other young men and two other actors. It’s been fantastic to see That they are creating their own Jacob from the text that’s that’s in front of them. So while I wrote it with me in mind, they’re taking the text from their own experiences in their own world and we do have now with myself included three very different Jacobs they they of course say the same things and they do the same dances and it’s the same show. But, but you know, Trent Sinclair has created this enormously endearing, sweet Jacob who’s just you know, so charming and delightful. Andrew Longo has created this, this sassy we see Jacob who who can then just flick around and and break your hos. And so I have actually really relish the opportunity to step back To teach them the show, of course, but to then allow them to interpret it the way that they do. And we were lucky enough to have Emma kind of lazy, the director come to Australia to work with the boys for a week in the middle of her busy schedule, to, to help bring out their version of this young man is and so I have, I thought that it would be really hard, and I thought that I would hate it. Seeing someone else do my work there. Yeah, yeah. And I mean, we literally talked in the show about Martha Graham, becoming extremely depressed and an alcoholic when other people were performing the works that she had choreographed on herself. Yeah, as Martha was very similar to me, made a lot of solo work for herself. And so when she got older, and other dancers started doing it, that really threw her into a depression. I was prepared for that, like I was prepared to actually find it quite different. cool to see other people doing my work and spend the whole time sort of squirming in the corner going. That’s not how you do it. No, that’s not that I hate that. No, no, don’t do it like me. But actually, I I surprised myself a little bit of how much I was like, No, that’s not what I do. But that’s great. Yeah and and all that’s so cool. In fact, I’m still around the around the other way. And so and the three of us have actually really enjoyed watching the other two Jacobs, rehearse and perform and, and work out what it is about them that’s working and and how we can incorporate that into our own performance. It’s actually made the work so much more sophisticated than when I was just me.

 

Joseph 

Yeah, yeah. And that’s really exciting and special, and that’s what that’s what theatre can really do. And I love that and

 

Bryn 

One of the big things that comes across when you do watch it is it’s such a physical performance on your own on the stage. Oh, it’s a monster, obviously, for 60 minutes.

 

Bryn 

Yes with the energetic group finale, which I’m not gonna say anything else because you got to go and enjoy it.

 

Joseph 

It’s a surprise, surprise and it’s banter. It’s the thing that gets most people when they hear the title they get, but how do you do an energetic group finale in a one man show? Well, well, well, let me tell you, we’re not gonna sign it.

 

Bryn 

Yeah, cuz you gotta go and enjoy it.

 

Joseph 

Yeah, that’s right. Let me show you. Is it better? Oh, yes.

 

Bryn 

Needless to say, I’ve been enjoying it since. And one of the things I’d like to ask you about is

 

Bryn 

just the whole physicality, yes. of being a performer and dance. And

 

Bryn 

we see the polished end of hours and hours now. Yes, years and years and years and years and years hours. Now. It’s not Yes.

 

Bryn 

How what is a day in the life of a dancer look like? What What do you do to look after yourself? You know, I’ve, I’ve sat down and spoke to people who have you know, swam amazing distances or done amazing physical Feat. Right. And, and, and I myself have done a few things in my time. But you know, just you know, I’ve recently started to shift exercise to more movement focused, right? Yes. And so I started to in my little way appreciate how you were moving and and just the, the shape and structure of your body and your muscle work. Yes, your legs.

 

Joseph 

Oh, yeah, these legs. It was hard for me. Yeah,

 

Bryn 

that’s how, what is part of the daily route. I mean, to a degree your body is your main instrument.

 

Joseph 

Very much so and that’s and that’s actually the key that you know, a musician is able to put down that trumpets, yeah, walk away. Yeah. There’s no maintenance required on that trumpet of all, you know, sometimes you get tired to someone to tune it for Absolutely, absolutely. So, whereas with a dancer and a performer of any kind actor included you, you live in your instrument. And so everything that you do will have an effect to how you look or how you’re able to use the instrument. When it comes to crunch time on stage. Yeah.

 

Bryn 

Sleep food.

 

Joseph 

Yep. Exercise recovery. Absolutely. grooming, like, all of that comes into play. And so, you know, I mean, it sounds ridiculous, but you really have to be on top of haircuts, and what you’ve got coming up, because you need a certain length for a certain time like it. Yeah, all of these things come into play. So yes, you’re you’re quite right. And I’m really pleased, actually, that you mentioned your transition from from exercise into movement based work because that is really what dances specifically that’s the world that they know. So I, I lecture in tertiary institutions, often now both in Brisbane and around Australia and, and working with tertiary students often in like, the musical theatre world is that I’m coming across performers who have not had dance training since the age of six. They’ve, you know, they started dancing Not much, much later. Yeah, they weren’t part of the, you know, the Simon’s trio. So, the, so, you know, they, you know, have been a singer all their lives or whatever, and they’ve decided to do musical theatre. And so they’ve decided at the age of, you know, 18 or so, to start picking up dads, and they’re finding it quite tricky. even more than that they’re frustrated at their bodies for not being able to pick up things as easily as, as they could. And often And particularly, the men talk about that they disappointed with their physique because they want that dancer’s body. So I was really fortunate and anyone who starts dancing from an early age is really fortunate to go through puberty while dancing. Because what that means is certainly from a both a strength and a visual perspective, your body grows through through that puka pubescent stage, already working a certain amount of muscles and already creating this body intelligence and a sophisticated understanding of how How the muscles work. And so by the time you get to the other side of puberty, you’ve got this sort of fully working functioning machine. Yes, that is that can kind of do anything. And this is the difference between exercise and movement is that dancing is a full body experience. That is that is extremely complicated and extremely sophisticated, much more than, you know, lifting a weight in the same direction over and over, over and over again, it’s not it’s not about repetition, it’s actually about variety. And so and so the muscles are constantly contracting, expanding and twisting with every dance move that you do, and so and so the body gets this quite intense physical intelligence, which, you know, coming back to the show has allowed me to create Lots of different movements, styles and all that in one. So I mean, a day in the life is always hard to describe, of course, also, I’m 32 years old now. Yes, 32 still playing a 17 year old character, I won’t be able to do this for that much longer. But I saw I’m in my 30s now, I’m certainly not able to dance like I could when I was 19. You know, said certainly 1920 when I was, you know, still at Whopper but also dancing with Western ballet, that was definitely a peak physicality for me, and a peak body size, shape, you know, look, but in order to maintain that, it’s about maintenance. I mean, you know, I now do a lot of teaching and even when I’m teaching, I’m still trying to be as physical as possible and to continue to do that. work with the students in order to keep me going, the huge amount of stretching

 

Joseph 

to keep the body limber and also know that when you win, okay, yeah, absolutely, absolutely. Oh gosh, when I was 19 I’d never warmed up or cooled down at all of this, like, I can do it roll out of bed, high kick, big turn, you know, like we’re on, we’re on and we end with no problem. Now I can probably I say that I can’t dance like I did when I was 19 I probably still can dance the way that I could when I was 19. But now there are consequences. Right? So So now there’s the next day when the low back still feels pretty. So yeah, the legs need time to warm themselves up. So you know, I’m just starting now to to discover the those consequences of the ageing you know process and how the dancer’s body moves through at different ages and I completely appreciate 32 is not old, but I am so Noticing differences from when I was in my early 20s. And so, yeah, so a conscious effort of food is, is always going to be a part of that and nutrition. Because of such an active lifestyle, I actually am a big sort of, you know, carb overload because yeah, there’s a lot of burning, there’s a lot of burning going on. And yeah, I also go to the gym. That is that is just something you did.

 

Bryn 

Yeah. We just said it’s kind of repetitive.

 

Joseph 

It’s absolutely repetitive. And that’s end and I’m certainly not suggesting that there’s a superior inferior, nothing that with regards to repetitive movement or, you know, variety exercise because repetitive movement has its place and, and if you’re looking to, you know, to build muscle to bulk or to even just to do some maintenance on a particular muscle group, the gym is Right for that, too. So I will oscillate between teaching and dance classes being with a teacher and a student or a participant in in other dance classes, as well as going to the gym to do more of that classic white training and stuff as well. So that’s what gets you the body that you see on stage.

 

Bryn 

Yes. How’s your

 

Bryn 

relationship with your body

 

Bryn 

changed? How have you been through periods of love and hate? And like,

 

Joseph 

I mean, I? Yes, naturally.

 

Joseph 

I have had an oscillating relationship. I think that during my teen years, I really disliked my body, mainly because it couldn’t do the stuff that I wanted to do yet, right.

 

Bryn 

More of a function thing.

 

Joseph 

Yes, yes, I am. I

 

Joseph 

yeah, yeah. I mean, I was I was a scrawny kid.

 

Joseph 

You know, I was always very sort of petite. So on the other side of puberty, where muscle gain was coming to scientists to come about, I was delighted by that as because I always found, I always, like, I used to say that I looked like a skeleton just with sort of some skin pulled over. It’s like, I was really skinny, and Liesl. So I didn’t, I didn’t love my body aesthetically, then most of my frustration with my body was the functional. I can’t do that yet. Also, you asked me how, how similar I am to Jacob. What I do have in common with Jacob is, if I can’t do it perfectly first time, I don’t want to do it at all. And so and so that became a bit of a barrier in dance class, as you know, age 15 where it’s like, I just want to do that cool thing, and I don’t want to work for months, you know, on it until I can get it. So that I obviously had to learn and had to work through and know that things that with your body can happen over time and with patients. Yeah. And, and with a lot of training so now I think I understand much more the, the art of waiting for something and being able to gradually build like a new skill and layering

 

Joseph 

in terms of aesthetic, I I don’t have

 

Joseph 

I have a really good relationship with my body now where I’m

 

Joseph 

I mean, you know, I mean in the in the show the way performance get down to underwear and in 100 years of the history of dance. And so there’s this little bit of like, hope all right, getting getting down to the getting down to the Braves in front of everyone now so hope you’re happy with yourself Joe likes if you know Yeah, yeah, there is a bit of that. But um, but I mean I’m surprised myself sometimes with just how little I even think about that, yes. Where I’m just like, well, it’s fine. I’ve been training I’ve been eating, I think going to the gym like this fight.

 

Bryn 

Once it’s been quite a transition for myself, like I said, moving towards more movement focus themselves, which then just opens up so many new things and things you can play with. Yes, have you? And in doing that, I become myself. Just generally less

 

Bryn 

interested, but less concerned,

 

Joseph 

less concentrated

 

Bryn 

on the aesthetic.

 

Joseph 

Yeah, that’s my body. Absolutely. And now

 

Bryn 

I love the functionality and the possibilities.

 

Bryn 

Yeah. And I’m 45 and I found this two or three years ago.

 

Joseph 

Yeah, it’s it. It is something that comes with age. And I have actually noticed that because I’ve worked with a range of different people, including dances, or people who are learning to dance much older than myself. So I’ve worked with a range of different people, and an easy Interesting. And I mean, I suppose this is just a big philosophical discussion about in your 20s. You are concerned about looking hot. Yeah. and you and you and you want to be your father. Yeah. And you want you want to look great. And and, you know, and and, you know, coming into sexual maturity is certainly a part of that you want to feel sexy. Yeah. And the I think the older that we get and exactly what you just described, the older that we get, we become less focused on the visual and more just about the function of like, actually, I would be able, I would like to be able to do this feat for me. Yeah, not not, not because I want to look a certain way perhaps, um, but it’s just like, actually, no, this would, this would make me happy to be able to, to do this physical thing. Or I would like to still be able to do this physical thing that I could do back in the day. And so I want to get that back or I want to maintain The ability to do that. And I think I think that’s where I’m now myself starting to sign to come in where I’m like, Look, I actually don’t care what what the body specifically looks like, as much as I care about what it can do. Yes.

 

Bryn 

Yes. And just one of the questions I have in mind is other different types and styles of dancing that you can see yourself migrating towards as you get older,

 

Joseph 

yes, and others that are perhaps dropping off

 

Bryn 

a little bit for you.

 

Joseph 

Yes, for me, personally. I mean, ballet will always be an incredible foundation and it’s known to me sort of, you know, the, one of the big bases of of a lot of different styles of dance. Ballet for me, will always be a part of my life in terms of able to do certain found National things, but the the spectacular ballet stuff, probably not forever, you know, the the big jumps and the double two is and the end of the, you know, the pirouettes and and all of those things may not be around forever. I’m okay with that. Yeah, I think

 

Bryn 

I’ve been reconciled that was it right? Or are you,

 

Bryn 

Martha who’s gonna go into a downward spiral?

 

Joseph 

I mean, look, it’s actually tricky to tell because right now I still can do those things. Yeah. And so right now, it’s very easy for me to say no, I’ll be fine when it’s gone. Look, maybe not. But I mean, I think that I mean, if we look at history, in the theme of, you know, the, the play that we’re talking about, if we look at history and and choreographers and dancers, certainly contemporary dance seems to be a style of dance where People are able to do it for much longer. Yeah. I mean, you know, Martha Graham was dancing, riding into my 70s obviously, with variations, you know, there are different things that you can and can’t do as the body ages. But, but certainly, yeah, I would like to think that I’ll still be able to move my body hopefully, as much as I can when I’m older. Contemporary Dance often lends itself to that, you know, sort of jazz, hip hop, you know, style of dance is is certainly far too explosive. For an older body. Yeah, yeah. Certain things and you know, probably would be doing less floor work over and over time, you know, getting down and up obviously,

 

Joseph 

you know, as, as anyone knows, even you know, the art of sitting can become difficult As the body ages, so getting up and down off the floor, I think will be a thing. I’m fortunate right now that those things are still in play, and I will try to keep them for as long as I can. But, um, yeah, I think that, um, I think that it’s it’s inevitable that there will come a time that certain things just can’t be done anymore. Yeah, and

 

Joseph 

I’ve had a good run.

 

Bryn 

Yeah. Okay. Do you see yourself merrigan to greatness with ballroom and Tango?

 

Joseph 

Look, I mean, I mean, maybe, I mean, I think I think actually, I’m probably more likely to turn into like, some sort of Tai Chi, you know, again, a yoga guy. Perhaps, which is more just sort of strength and and, yeah, those mobility and mobility more than more than that, but I mean, Hey, guys.

 

Bryn 

Yeah, I mean,

 

Joseph 

look, I love moving my body. I don’t think that will ever change. I, I, I have always been fascinated by the science of dance and the physiology of the muscles and the bones and, and, and and how that all works and because there’s a bit towards the end where you rattle off all the Oh, absolutely, yeah, yeah, you’ve got abduction, abduction, contraction and extension, don’t forget rotation dorsiflexion, plantar flexion circumduction, pronation, protraction. Then there’s inversion supination and retraction. And they are all, you know, sort of physio term Yes. For the different movements that the body can go through. And as I just demonstrated in the show, we have a little poem to pull that together.

 

Bryn 

Indeed. And

 

Bryn 

you’ve obviously been working with the show. For for some time, yes. Is there a point where your natural Creativity, which obviously surges through you, yes. is now looking beyond the show to, to new things and, and how, as a as an artist, do artists reconcile the fact that that creative urges might want to go one direction yet?

 

Bryn 

The thing that they’re doing to put bread on the table? Yes.

 

Joseph 

Has you in one place for a period of time? Yes, I see. I think I understand what you’re asking that. Like just other projects and other pathways and puzzles

 

Bryn 

because of the very nature of what you do. It’s creative and creative will always create always move, grow, evolve. Yes. And

 

Joseph 

yes, yet

 

Bryn 

the show the show or any piece that you you create, gotcha. Well, then once it’s done, and now out, be repeated, yes, almost finished. Its growth here.

 

Joseph 

Yes. That makes sense. No, it does. It. I reconcile I understand. I mean, I mean, like literally as we’re talking today, so, uh, I performed the show last night. I did 100 years last night. I’m talking to you right now. I’m about to go and have a Skype meeting for a new scripts that I’m writing soon. In two weeks, when this show finishes, I’ve got a week’s worth of writing retreats for a new musical that I’m writing with a different collaborator.

 

 

I am

 

Joseph 

a pitch that I’ve put forward for a new event is is happening and so I’m working towards that happening in June. There is always so much going on. Even when I’m on stage, there is there is plenty in the pipeline. And mostly because projects take a long time to get off the ground and they take a long time to Develop and so you’ve kind of got to have, you know, six or seven cylinders going at once in order to to constantly be yet putting that output because they’ve all they all take different amounts of development time and they all have different deadlines and different finishing points. And so right now hundred years of the history of dance as told by one man in 60 minutes with an energetic group finale is still a you’re correct in that it’s it’s probably stopped its creative growing period it’s now a complete finished production

 

Joseph 

but

 

Joseph 

its life will continue on potentially without me in this. The these new actors may end up touring the show themselves without me present. Which is possible and that’s why in fact we have other cast members Yeah. So that’s You know, the dream eventually is that I’ll be creating work and theatrical productions and and shows and sending them off. Yes. Rather than having to hold its hand, yes. right the way through releasing things from the net. Exactly, exactly. So, so myself and my husband, who happens to also be a producer, is were actually quite interested, myself and Adam, in becoming essentially like a two man production house, where we’re able to create shows, send them out into the world, and instantly start creating the next job. So we’re, we’re looking, I mean, look, I got about 40 ideas in my head right now about 70 ideas in my notebook next to the bed, like I there’s no reason for me to be stopping anytime. So many ideas for different things that are going on. You know, four or five of them are actually on the path now of potentially becoming a completed project. And so I mean, you know, to answer the question, yes, history of dance is in a stage now but it will continue on

 

Joseph 

in a different form with or without long to go and

 

Bryn 

its life that’s going entertainment.

 

Joseph 

Absolutely. That’s That’s the point. And that’s an end when, just to be clear, I make work to the same. So I have no intention of this season in Perth being the last season of this show. I and I would love for it to run for you know, a couple of years. I’d love for it to move around the world internationally. I’d love for it to be seen by a lot of people. I’m proud of the work I’m happy with it. I think that it has some universal themes that a lot of people can touch on and and That’s a show that I think could go go further.

 

Bryn 

And while that’s happening, I’ll make some more stuff. Indeed.

 

Joseph 

What’s been your proudest moment? Oh, boy. in life in general, I’ll look, I mean, you know, getting married was pretty exceptional and pretty exciting. And, you know, as we know, the fight for marriage equality and stuff was, has been a painful and, and really difficult battle, particularly, particularly here in Australia. And, and myself and Adam, who are both Australian boys, really? We really wanted to wait until marriage equality happened, rather than going somewhere else. Exactly. Yeah. We wanted to do it in our country. Yeah. And so it was a pretty proud moment to have that. That we got married last year. In dubbo, in my hometown, yeah, it was very, very special and So that was certainly a proud personal moment. In terms of a Korea highlight, I actually have to go back to Western Australia and my time in West Australian ballet, where I was the the lead in new production of Pinocchio, which was choreographed to created by the van artistic director, Yvonne cavalry. To have a whole new ballet which was, you know, couple of million in budget and you know, the big scale new show with me at the centre of it was actually pretty special. I was only 21 at the time and, and it was really, really thrilling. And we performed here in Perth and, you know, Her Majesty city, His Majesty’s theatre, which one is it without, it’s the it’s the Yeah, I’m here. Oh, damn it, I can’t believe I can’t remember that. Um, but, uh, yeah, that’s a really fun to hear. And I was so, so proud of that. And that was certainly the beginning of, of a big and exciting, you know, career that’s been, you know, sort of 10 years or so since then. have just, yeah, really, really exciting dance experiences a lot of touring. I’ve been very fortunate to be taken, you know, all over the world, from the states to through Asia and the UK, Europe and of course, around Australia, with a lot of different dance companies and doing a lot of different kinds of work, and kinds of shows, which has been great for musical theatre to contemporary dance and obviously ballet. Being a dancer in opera is fascinating because that’s a whole other world and kettle of fish. It’s uh, yeah, I’ve got a lot of very proud moments, but I’m going to choose pinoke F and

 

Bryn 

funny story.

 

Joseph 

Oh, my funniest story. Yeah. Oh good god brand.

 

Bryn 

Oh,

 

Joseph 

I honestly can’t even think of one. I mean, look, there’s always plenty of stories about you know, ridiculously fast, quick costume changes and that kind of thing where you end up you know, having to come on stage with half a costume on them for week sort of flapping off your head, you know, I’ve got plenty of them. But look, I mean, look, it’s it’s theatre, there’s always gonna be ridiculous, crazy things. I mean, you know, I mean, literally two nights ago. You know, Trent Trent Sinclair was was on stage performing hundred years. of the history of dance. And I was side stage, we realised that he wasn’t wearing his tie, which is part of the part of the costume. Yes. And, and he needs to be able to take off his tie and tie it around his waist to to become a tail for the for the cats singing and the scene about Julian lane and her choreographic sort of masterpiece of cats. And so I had to very quietly because I was side stage, open up out, you know, props suitcase, and see if I could rummage around find any sort of tie that I that I could and then like, flick it onto the stage I had tried to hit his ankles so that he’d feel it and and let him know that there’s a tie here for when you need it. Yeah, I mean, that thing, that kind of thing happens all the time. That’s, that’s, you know how it works and, and, you know, look those things happen. Sometimes the audience noticed sometimes they died. And that’s all fine too, or that could be part of the show. Of course,

 

Bryn 

indeed. What have you learned about yourself through this journey?

 

Joseph 

I think that

 

Joseph 

I have learnt how much I love moving the body, how much I love other people discovering that they can move their body as well I’ve adored being a choreographer and and creating movement that I’m not doing myself and seeing the the joy of someone learning how to do a move and nailing it and and and sort of getting to that stage where they’re like, Hey, I couldn’t do this before and now I can. That is thrilling to me and I have learned that that is that’s actually not what the young, overconfident Joe was all about. He was about attention seeking for himself. Yeah, I’ve learned that I have an even bigger passion for creating work that other people can take on to themselves. That’s an interesting thing that I didn’t think would happen because I Oh, I thought it was all about me. And I thought it was about me becoming famous. Yes. And, actually, what makes me happy is just to be in a room in a rehearsal room making, making art with others. Yes. Wow.

 

Bryn 

And

 

Bryn 

obviously, we talked about what you physically do. Yes. Look after yourself. Yes. What do you do to keep yourself

 

Bryn 

grounded? through all of this? Oh, well,

 

Joseph 

yes, no. Well, I’ve got a I’ve got an amazing partner who brings me down on the regular whenever I

 

Joseph 

Net whenever I’m, you know feeling too lofty.

 

Joseph 

There’s a quick you know, that’s not the truth right? Oh, back down we go. I’m not a he’s actually incredibly supportive and encouraging and and amazing Of course love harmony faces. Yes because it does. And one of them is reality checks So, so no, I love that I love that. Yes, yeah, yeah. Um, no, I think that I mean, what do I do to stay grounded? I I think that I know the importance of downtime. And I mean, actually, almost this could be an answer to what have I learned about myself. I have learned not to kick myself when I, my body needs rest. I’ve learned to listen to my body more and to understand that I don’t have to To be Go go go all the time in order to put out lots of output in fact by having more equal rest time to work time I can be more productive yeah I don’t have to be cuz I’ve been a freelance up my whole life yeah I don’t mentally everything go go go go go I just say and and you know at at at 8pm on a Sunday night and I’m still working and doing emails and doing you know all of those things that’s actually not that productive I need to at some point give myself permission to rest, relax, recharge and and then I can be more productive. That is how I stay grounded because yeah my natural inclination is to burn out and just just go for everything at 24 hours a day. I stay grounded now by understanding that I don’t have to. Yeah. get frustrated at myself when I feel that my body needs rest to actually listen to it and give it the rest of it.

 

Bryn 

And the last question I asked my guests Oh, here it is here this is if you could take a

 

Bryn 

little golden nugget of information and just upload it into the collective consciousness. So everyone just got it.

 

 

What would that be? Wow

 

Joseph 

That’s a lovely question. I wish she’d asked me earlier to prepare.

 

Bryn 

By the way, never tell any of us right right now is the question and I’ll just give you a little bit of time here by tell ya cuz this is because I’m, you know, gracious host not yet please. I never tell my guests. I’m gonna ask them this.

 

Bryn 

However,

 

Bryn 

this is the last question of every podcast.

 

Joseph 

Yeah, yeah, sure. Yeah. Look, I mean, I’m, I’m going to stick with the theme that we’ve, that we’ve been talking about for the last hour. I think that the collective consciousness of our world needs to understand that you have to keep moving your body. That sounds so basic and so silly. But, but the brain works when the blood is flowing. Yes. And and so, you, you must I believe that humans must stay active. Obviously, my career and occupation is an extreme version of that. And, but, but I, I really believe that movement plays an enormous connection to

 

Joseph 

emotion and mood and

 

Joseph 

and the amount of energy That you’re able to put house comes from the amount of energy that you’re able to generate here. And so I think just staying physical is a crucial part to being alive. And I guess that would be my advice to, you know, keep that keep the body moving, go into a dance class, it’s a way more fun than you might think. It’s Yeah,

 

Bryn 

because like I said, I’ve moved to more movement orientated exercise. And with that, I’ve had to learn to use my body more, and I get these lovely, frustrated moments where it’s like, oh, why can’t it just do the thing that I want it? Yes. And then you have to build the new path. Yes. And you’re constantly building new pathways in your head and I it is little it now to me is that wonder that senior citizen start taking up, dance something to because their brain physically needs to be making new pathways. Absolutely, neuroplasticity. Yeah, all of that. And

 

Joseph 

absolutely, and I guess the, the real, the main sort of motto of all of this and actually, this is probably a good, you know, tie in for the podcast that we’ve just made, and particularly with the show hundred years of the history of dance, is that the bottom line is dance is for everyone. A lot of people think that, you know, there’s actually no such thing as I can’t dance. Yeah, it’s, you don’t, you know, be good. Yeah, you don’t have to look amazing. It doesn’t even need to be aesthetic dance is about what it feels like more than what it looks like. And, and if you can walk, you can dance. And and, you know, so, you know, I would encourage and, and I, I often do encourage my students to make sure that you are still bedroom dancing. You know, the way that you did when you were 14 and listening to the radio and, you know, dancing around. Written because everyone does that to a certain extent. Yes. I don’t think that should be lost when you get older. I think everyone should still be you know, enjoying the the arts. I recently heard someone call it a play date with your body, which I think is actually kind of adorable of that. It’s just like Hey, buddy, good to see you again. Yeah,

 

Bryn 

do some moon come out the mind

 

Joseph 

drop into the body. It’s a lovely,

 

Joseph 

lovely sentiment actually. Yeah, dance is for everyone and everyone should just keep moving.

 

Bryn 

Excellent. Excellent. I’ve thoroughly thoroughly enjoyed our conversation. Thanks, Brian. I’ve loved it too.

 

Bryn 

How long is the hundred years old?

 

Joseph 

So 100 years of the history of dance as told by one man in 60 minutes with an energetic group finale runs from well written it’s currently running and it finishes on February 16. So we have, I believe we have about 12 more shows to go. And, and myself and the two other actors will be alternating the role of Jacob, throughout those performances. And we just can’t wait to show more potent audiences. They’ve loved it so far, and I can’t wait for more of them to say it. And if somebody has this podcast,

 

Bryn 

after that time they go to,

 

Joseph 

you can head to www dot the history of dance show.com and find out where it’s all find out where it’s on next and read about it. You can see some videos and photos there as well. It’s, if I do say so myself. It’s a beautiful show. And I’m it I’m extremely proud of it. Oh, yeah.

 

Bryn 

Yeah. Like I said, I would sit on Monday and I was just thrilled. It was just

 

Bryn 

so many things. I’m so delighted that you enjoyed it.

 

Bryn 

Joe, thank you so much for your time.

 

Joseph 

Thank you Bryn.

 

SUMMARY KEYWORDS

dance, jacob, stage, people, body, ballet, creating, perth, absolutely, world, simon, dancer, choreographer, work, big, age, theatre, performer, play, performing

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