Dean Walsh is clearly a man who loves his job. The choreographer and Australia Council Dance Fellow has spent the last two years researching marine environments to use in his creative work. This has included liaising with the arts, media communications and science faculties at Macquarie University; completing his rescue dive qualification; meeting with marine experts, environmentalists and scuba divers; and even taking to his sewing machine to create what he affectionately refers to as the sensory dive memory suit (SDMS).

The last two years of hard work will be distilled in Prime Orderly, a two-part dance piece that explores real-life diver situations and is followed by a Q&A with guest speakers. The first part of the evening is Walsh’s solo piece,AnEnemy, which investigates predator and prey and our role within their habitat. Under Pressure is performed by Walsh, Kathryn Puie and Natalie Ayton and reflects the actual time line of a scuba dive. This is where the SDMS comes in, a device that recreates the weightlessness felt when scuba diving. “I wanted to work out the state of neutral buoyancy. As dancers we are so used to defying gravity,” he explains. “We work with or against it … so I sewed up a big stretch velvet jumpsuit that was ten sizes too big.”

“We’ve been pillaging from certain environments for too long,” Walsh continues. “We need to question our practices and look deeply to the inner space of our ocean and tune into scapes that we might not be exposed to everyday but are so pivotal to our future. I’m interested in talking to environmental experts and bringing them into our performance so the public gets the insight as well.”

Published in City News online and in print on Oct 21, 2012.


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