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February 22, 2024

ADT’s dancers step into the netherworld

Meet the ensemble bringing Daniel Riley’s latest work to life for Adelaide Festival.

  • Images: Sam Roberts
  • This article was produced in collaboration with Australian Dance Theatre.

The dancers of Australian Dance Theatre can pretty much do anything.

Since the company was established on Kaurna Yerta in 1965, ADT’s intrepid ensemble has performed aerial choreography while suspended from the fly towers of theatre’s big and small, toured to some of the most prestigious stages across the globe and even had robots strapped to them (no, really). The dancers, who work as a full-time ensemble across the year, also do a lot of yoga and stretching.


Marrow premieres at The Odeon Theatre from 13 – 17 March as part of the 2024 Adelaide Festival.

Tickets available here

With Wiradjuri artistic director Daniel Riley at the helm, the current ensemble of six is fearlessly tasked with disassembling and unpacking Australian national identity. Following on from the 2022 work SAVAGE, the upcoming world premiere season of Marrow at the 2024 Adelaide Festival sees ADT’s dancers step into the dark netherworld of the Australian conscience to peel back the falsehoods of our history to build a new future for us all.

As the dancers work through Riley’s muscular choreography, they embody a fierce politic that takes an unflinching look at where Australia has been, what it is now and where it is headed.

It’s no small task, really.

Here we meet the dancers of Australian Dance Theatre to learn more about them, their work and about what we can expect from the world premiere season of Marrow.




What led you to ADT?

When I think about what I’ve wanted to do with my dance career, I’ve always been drawn to a really collaborative process. I want to make work with impact and that felt urgent and relevant to what was happening in the world.

I feel like with the arrival of Dan, the work has shifted in that direction, which is exciting. And rare.

What sets ADT apart from other companies?

With Dan being a First Nations man leading a company that historically hasn’t had that sort of influence or leadership… he’s looking at reflecting our current political climate in a way that you don’t see very often. But he’s also very open to us, as dancers, bringing our own experience and ideas into the space. It’s very pluralistic and allows us to really deep-dive into some really big ideas.

The work ADT is making is provocative and as a First Nations artist, it’s interesting to me to work in that space.

Can you tell us about Marrow?

Marrow links to the work SAVAGE that ADT premiered in 2022. I guess the work deals a lot with the recent referendum that unfortunately didn’t pass… and it’s about what an Australian experience is for the different people in the space, whether that be a First Nations experience, a POC experience, a Western experience… I think the work really sits internally. It’s deeply felt.

Dance and physical theatre is a softer way into really difficult topics like the ones in Marrow. It’s visual, it’s aural, it’s textural… it’s about feeling more than thinking or being told what to think, and it speaks to how I like to digest or understand things as opposed to reading through something.



Zoe Wozniak in SAVAGE

What led you to ADT?

I had always admired the company. I’m from Boorloo/Perth and went through training there. I spent a few years contract-based and doing things all over. But I always admired the physicality of ADT and the work they were doing.

With Daniel leading the company, I’m really inspired by the future of ADT, what we’re doing with the work, and what we’re cultivating in the space. Care underpins everything that we do and we’re really looking at celebrating each other and supporting each other. I love learning and creating in that environment.

Can you tell us about the process of making Marrow?

I really believe that we are trying to question what we’re doing on the daily. In the work we’re asking big questions, but it’s also about our process. How we make the work, how we operate in the space, how we get to the end product.

I really love that the whole building is part of the vision – there’s not a separation between dancers and office. Everyone is part of the process and the vision. Audiences, too!

What can audiences expect from Marrow?

Marrow is really interesting. We’ve taken a deep dive into the opposite world of SAVAGE and we’re really feeling, embodying and exploring some rich textures.

Marrow is about quietening down the noise and looking at the self or the values at the core of all of us. And the work is really stripped back – it’s just the six of us dancers working together. Which I’m really excited about.

Dance can often be a really scary thing to go into but, no matter what you feel or think it’s always valid. Your own experience is really about what you’re watching.  The best thing to do is be open.

Describe Marrow in three words.

Beats. Grittiness. Oozing.



Sebastian Geilings in THE HUM

Tell us about your practice and what it’s like to dance at ADT.

I’m really in love with movement. I’ve always been dancing.

Right now, I’m really absorbed in somatic investigations of the body… so, how it feels, finding internal imagery to project story and different embodiments. I’m focused on how dance can also be healing.

I’m just nerding out about how the body functions and works. I’m obsessed with how to find efficiency and sustainability in movement.

The aspect I love about ADT is how collaborative it is. Dan doesn’t just make the steps; we very much offer ourselves and our individual expressions to the work. Being a choreographer and a dancer are very different – to me one is internal and one is external.

They are both a ‘practice’ – it’s good to engage both muscles as frequently as possible.

ADT has gone through a big period of transition over the past few years. How is the company different to others you’ve worked with?

ADT really highlights the voice of the dancers to determine what they need in the space. Quite often, you enter a structure that’s already established and you fit into the mould of what’s happening – but ADT is really offering the opportunity to give us an input into the work and how we create productions.

We’re a new ensemble, and we’re finding our language as a company. And at ADT, process is as valued as the product. That groundwork bleeds into the choreographic work – it allows us to interrogate what’s happening in the room and outside of it. It makes the storytelling much deeper and richer for us, and for the audience.

How does all of this inform the world premiere season of Marrow?

We’re early in the process so it feels like we are still yet to land – but this is a good thing. Trusting in time to do its things is a powerful mindset.

Marrow speaks truth. It unveils hidden thoughts. It asks a lot of questions. It dissects and hopes to give some answers rather than demonstrating history.

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