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Dancer Steph Wyburn reflects on the creation of Wonderland

A dream caused by the surrender of a butterfly into the fog… Photography by Adriana Mendivil.

Are you looking for an immersive dance piece that will excite, scare and slightly disturb you? This trippy dance experience is something you should not pass up on.

Steph Wyburn in Wonderland. Photography by Adriana Mendivil.

There are many weird and wonderful aspects of this piece. It’s very stimulating both visually and aurally. Wonderland involves small intimate rooms with one or two dancers to big open spaces with the entire company. There are chair parties, glowing faces and bubble wrap. Everything you could possibly imagine. The madness is real.

The best part about Wonderland is everyone experiences the work differently. Each person’s journey is different and their choices affect how the end of the work is perceived. The piece is set throughout the grounds of Annandale Creative Arts Centre. You wander through a maze-like setting into a different world. Each room is a small part of a crazy innovative world. Each bringing a unique aspect to life that comes together at the apex of the piece.

I found this has been the most challenging piece that I have ever worked on with Bonnie Curtis Projects. As a collective, we had so many sources of inspiration and ideas cascading from our minds. It was a struggle to decide what direction we wanted to go in. I felt overwhelmed at times as ideas hung around in my head like heavy smoke. It felt like many rehearsals would go by spent chatting through ideas and working through roadblocks. The next rehearsal we would scrap it altogether for something completely new and fresh. Each rehearsal was another rabbit hole we jumped down with something brand new. We would return with something completely different from what we started with. Eventually, we were able to channel our ideas and start working on the concept.

Steph testing out her luminous alter ego during Wonderland rehearsals. Photograph by Bonnie Curtis.

Another new challenge that became present in this work was working more individually and in small groups than all together. One of my favourite parts of this company is the connection we have to each other and what we accomplish as a collective. This work proved to be quite different from what we were used to. Many of the company members are social butterflies. Working in a smaller group of three for the majority of the project created a different atmosphere at rehearsals. New additions to the company also added fresh concepts to work with, and an opportunity to work with more amazing artists.

In saying that, everyone was always up for the challenge. It was great to watch how other groups had progressed throughout the process. It wasn’t until the near completion of the work that I saw what other groups had created and how they had utilised the space they were working with. With a piece like this, the possibilities are endless.

Bonnie has always been the one to push boundaries and personally, this has definitely pushed me. Wonderland has created what only has been seen in storybooks, so don’t miss out on the chance to choose your own story within a fantasy dance piece.

See Steph in Wonderland when it performs in Sydney on August 2-11 at Annandale Creative Arts Centre.

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