One is a 6’6’’ guy who works with steel. The other is a delicate dancer from Japan. You wouldn’t think they have much in common, but you’d be wrong, according to them.
“His pieces, I found, were like Japanese cranes, flying away,” says Ako Kondo of New Zealand artist, Dion Horstmans. “I had this connection to him because for me, with ballet, I always think of it like flying away.”
Dion suggests further similarities between their practices. “For dancers, it’s about movement and being in this rhythm. In essence, my work is the same,” he says. “It’s just more elongated and stratified.”
In this unique project for the Telstra Ballet Dancer Award 2015, six nominees from The Australian Ballet are paired up with six artists from different creative fields, who produce a work inspired by their respective dancer. Each duo came together for a day where both artist and dancer were ‘creating’, with a Telstra ‘prism’ adding a cohesive dimension across the six works.
In Dion and Ako’s case, the geometry of both their forms of expression provided the basis for the sculpture and the dance. “Ballet is always about the line – the line of the body,” Ako explains. “This is quite similar to what Dion does”. Together, they envisioned one of Dion’s angular sculptures set on the floor, with low lighting casting directional shadows to provide a matrix for Ako to interact with and dance within. The result is both dynamic and intriguing.
Their skills are quite different but there’s huge respect, from one artist to the other. “I love ballet dancers, aesthetically… they fly!” Dion marvels. “I can power through anything, but these guys are small and quick and lithe. I’m in awe of their physical abilities; also the time and discipline [they’ve put in] to get where they’re at.”
This dedication is another point of similarity between the two contrasting figures. “Ako’s constantly trying to strive to be better and be more, and anyone who’s doing anything they’re passionate about is the same,” Dion points out. ‘You want to be able to do bigger things and push yourself further.”
The Telstra Ballet Dancer Award, with a $20,000 cash prize, will be announced on 3 December. People’s Choice voting (with $5,000 prize) is open now, click here (telstra.com/ballet) to see the other artist/dancer collaborations and to vote.
The Australian Ballet
Telstra Ballet Dancer Award