Ross McCormack is Principal Choreographer for World of Wearable Arts for the second year now. McCormack is a renowned Kiwi choreographer who worked on numerous big events including the 2014 New Zealand Festival of the Arts and this year’s 45th Hong Kong Arts Festival. Scoop NZ also mentions that he was awarded the 2016/17 Creative New Zealand Choreographic Fellowship.

Today we look at New Zealand Listener’s moment with Ross McCormack and his work, “Triumphs and Other Alternatives”.

McCormack grew up in Canterbury and was obsessed with break-dancing when he was younger saying, “I really loved the expression and the whole culture that surrounds it.” He eventually moved on to rave and according to him, the physicality and freedom “led me to full-time dance training late in the piece so I worked pretty fast and hard.”

He then got an opportunity and joined the Belgian dance powerhouse, Les Ballets C De La B, where he would perform with them for 10 years. Now McCormack has his own dance company, Muscle Mouth. The name symbolizes both movement and theater.

When asked why he chose that path, McCormack elaborated that New Zealand heavily separates dance and theater, and there is little work blending the two. He then stated that his company is “a little bit of a window or a door to open both ways.”

Regarding his work, Triumphs is about the process of creation and its obsessive-destructive qualities. McCormack stated, “I started exploring this character I called ‘the maker’ and the blurred line between how you create and control and where you tip over a point and start to ruin everything. Like different artists that have destroyed the thing they are working on because of their need to perfect something.”

Symbolism has long been a weapon of choice for different artists. Painters are notorious for embedding hidden symbols in their works, some of which even spark controversy and conspiracy theories such as the famous Last Supper by Da Vinci. Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, although a work of fiction, still stirred intrigue among readers as explained by Artnet News.

Symbols not only appear in still image media, as other forms of visual works use different subjects or objects to signify abstract concepts. For instance, Cracked stated that the film “All Dogs Go to Heaven” talks about man’s spiritual journey, even though the characters in the movie are canine. Video games are also prominent in using symbols such as with the slots game Starburst, in which colorful jewels represent wealth and riches. Using one thing to define something else is sometimes straightforward; other times you have think through.

Similarly, artistic expressions like choreography, and subsequently dance performances, also feature symbolism heavily. It’s an effective medium to arouse curiosity and interest among viewers. Ross McCormack’s Triumphs and Other Alternatives symbolically looks upon the creative process through choreography full of movements and expressions differing from contemporary dance. The movements are robust and highly virtuosic, with isolations, unconventional twists, turns and twitches. The performers are all on their own to send their message without the aid of audiovisual technology such as LED screens and cutscenes.

Of course, McCormack’s two troupe mates, Vu Ahn Pham and Emily Adams, also deserve recognition, along with the whole team behind the show. The three-member main dance team is “a totally unified and focused ensemble,” according to NZ media group Stuff. Finally, the carefully timed and angled lighting by Natasha James, and hypnotic music by Jason Wright completes the whole experience.

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