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We Are Here

Jennifer Ma & Collaborators

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'We Are Here' (2021), Jennifer Ma & Collaborators. Image by Aaron Shamim.
24—27 March 2022
Thursday—Saturday, 8pm
Sunday, 2:30pm

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We Are Here by Jennifer Ma & Collaborators is an interdisciplinary dance work that aspires to actualise a fresh form by interweaving expressions of Krump, Contemporary Dance, Hip-Hop and Spoken Word. This work unfolds through a non linear narrative, piecing together a series of vignettes anchored in dance, placing empathy at the forefront of the Asian diasporic experience.

We Are Here bears witness to the resilience that is bred through the tension between self discovery and familial adversity of the contemporary Asian-Australian story. Diving into different narratives of being misunderstood, displaced or pressured to meet expectations that aren’t one’s own.

Choreographer/Producer: Jennifer Ma
Dancers/Collaborators: Nak Assa, Kaitlin Malone, David Prakash, Jareen Wee, Alec Steelo
Sound Composer: ML Hall
Poets/Spoken Word Artists: Argo Theoharis, Jaymi-Lee
Lighting Designer: Rachel Lee
Costume Designer: Kitty Garry
Dramaturg: Ari Tampubolon
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Jennifer Ma is a Taiwanese-Australian dancer and choreographer. Jennifer studied at Transit Dance under the mentorship of Adam Wheeler and Israel Aloni. She was a member of youth dance company – Yellow Wheel, street dance crew – Mute Crew, Dancehouse’s Emerging Choreographers Program and a recipient of the City of Melbourne Arts Residency at the Boyd Studio in 2022. Jennifer’s cross-genre dance works have been seen at Melbourne Fringe, Dancehouse and Bunjil Place, alongside multiple short dance films with her collaborators. With a keen interest for dance on film, 2020 saw Jennifer choreograph and perform in Accumulating, commissioned by Bunjil Place and in 2021 the film had a site-specific iteration presented by Hyphenated Biennial at Sunshine Art. Jennifer was also a mentor for street dancers of Sister Sessions and ran multiple cross-genre dance workshops in efforts to build bridges between the street and contemporary dance communities in Naarm.

Nak Assa is a Thai-Australian award-winning dancer/choreographer and the founding director of Melbourne-based street dance crew, Mute Crew (Step Off Champions 2015-17). He has over 10 years of experience in choreography, freestyle and has taught locally, interstate and internationally. Since 2010, Nak also began his Krump journey training under Australia’s renowned Krumper Trip, was crowned champion of Pass The Buck 2016. Recent ventures into contemporary dance with Jennifer Ma & Collaborators featured Nak as a dancer in Home(s) and in development for We Are Here.

Kaitlin Malone is a Filipino-Australian dancer who graduated from Transit Dance in 2018 and developed her artistic practice under the mentorship of Paul Malek and Israel Aloni. Kaitlin is a current company artist with Transit Dance Company, Variation Three, and Jennifer Ma & Collaborators. In 2018 and 2019 she performed with Stephanie Lake Company in ‘Colossus’ for two Melbourne seasons, as well as rehearsal assistant for the Perth and Switzerland tour in 2020. Kaitlin debuted her first work as part of a triple bill with Origins Dance Company in 2021. Alongside her artistic practice, Kaitlin is also a passionate teacher and mentor. Her investment as a working performer compliments her abilities to teach current industry knowledge and is developing her unique style.

David Prakash is an Indian-Samoan freestyle artist who has explored multiple street dance genres including Popping, Hip Hop freestyle, House, and Krump. David has been battling and judging at various street dance battles in Australia and internationally with recent achievements including: Pass The Buck Champion 2019, Battle24k: FINALS Runner-up (TAIWAN), City Sessions 2v2 FINALS (House, Funk, Hip-Hop). Since 2018, David has been facilitating ‘Jam On Toast’ with Oliver Le, a weekly dance jam for the Melbourne dance community to connect. David’s recent venture into contemporary dance has seen him in development with Chunky Move under Antony Hamilton and multiple creative projects with Jennifer Ma & Collaborators.

Jareen Wee is a Singaporean-Australian dancer who has been performing and choreographing in Australia and Aotearoa since graduating from the New Zealand School of Dance in 2018. Jareen has previously performed works by distinguished choreographers including Damien Jalet, Huang Yi (Cloud Gate 2), James O’Hara, Sarah Foster-Sproull, Malia Johnston, Michael Parmenter and Adam Barruch. She has also danced in Tempo Dance Festival (NZ), the International Youth Dance Festival (Macau, China), World of Wearable Art (NZ) and Highlight Carnival (NZ). In 2019, she co-choreographed ‘Flying Down Sand Dunes’ which won the ‘Parkin Development Award’ at New Zealand Fringe. Jareen’s dance film ‘Let Fall’ was also nominated for ‘Best Dance and Physical Theatre’ for Melbourne Fringe 2020. Most recently, Jareen performed with Liz Lea Dance Company and continues to work with Jennifer Ma & Collaborators, House of Sand Arts and inplay Dance Collective on multiple projects.

Alec Steelo is a Filipino-Australian dancer and choreographer specialising in House Dance and Hip-Hop. Alec began dancing at 8 years-old through Breaking, C-Walk and Filipino Folk Dances. House Dance and Hip-Hop were introduced to him through university dance groups, and along the way, was later mentored by key Melbourne and overseas figures such as Ria Aprilyana (MEL/IND) and Frankie J (UK). Alec has earned his stripes in the battle scene, winning and placing at different events (City Sessions, House Party, Signal Summer Cypher, etc.) and has also begun working in commercial spaces. Alec’s artistic practice revolves around exploring House cultural implications to his own House Dance improvisation, and finding coherencies between different genres of street and club dance in curating a personal movement vocabulary, using House as a foundation.

ML Hall is a Filipino-Australian self-taught singer-songwriter and musician. Hall brings together a myriad of sounds and influences in emotive works; creating music that is experimental, patient and personal. Hall’s openness to genres and collaboration has made different musical settings accessible over the years: from musical theatre to 6-piece funk-house band, hip-hop collective to new-wave/surf-rock outfit, downtempo dub to electronic soul. Hall has years of experience as a performer playing all over Australia at a multitude of venues and festivals, and touring regionally, nationally and internationally with 6-piece funk-house band, Sunnyside; most notably in Japan at Fuji Rock Music Festival 2019. Hall’s ventures into creating soundtracks for dance has seen Hall work with Jennifer Ma closely to compose original soundtracks for multiple projects including both live dance works and dance films.

Ari Tampubolon is an artist and arts worker operating under a reconfiguring of the Institutional Critique ‘genre’ of art-making and history. Ari has worked as producer for Hyphenated Projects, RISING Festival, and held exhibitions at Seventh Gallery, Blindside, along with upcoming works at Gertrude Glasshouse and West Space.

Argo Theoharis identifies as a Queer migrant settler with Greek and Filipino (Sibuyanon, Visayan) Ancestry, they grew up in Narrm, and are currently based in Meanjin. Their studies are grounded in Psychology & Neuroscience, and have an emerging interest in embodiment and its relationship to Social Justice. Poetry is their efforts to weave together these disparate fields, attempting to translate lived experience into something relatable, tangible, that simultaneously exists inside and outside of themself. As a poet and writer, they’ve contributed to features in Cluster Magazine, Vertical Life and participated in the Pinoy Ecopoetics Workshop Series by Eunice Andrada. As a spoken word artist, they performed with Floating Key at Afrohub, and most recently contributed prose for ‘We Are Here’.

Jaymi-Lee / Boio is a Queer, non-binary, interdisciplinary, multidimensional artist with Papuan, Malay and Celtic ancestry. They descend from saltwater people and grew up on Gubbi Gubbi country – it is these lands and seascapes that inform their artistic practices. They have included work in a collaborative life drawing exhibit at the National Art School in Eora, published poetry in an independent on-line literary journal called Pressure Gauge Press, based in Meanjin, and recently contributed poetry for ‘We Are Here’. Jami-Lee / Boio works as a disability support worker in Meanjin, and translates dreams through the carving of wooden sculptures.

This project has been supported by the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria, the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body, the City of Stonnington, the Besen Family Foundation, the City of Yarra, Dancehouse, Chapel off Chapel and Chunky Move’s Minimax Residency.

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