Shine On: An Interview with Chloe Chignell

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Canberra born and Melbourne based, contemporary dance artist Chloe Chignell’s star is on the rise. She has recently received a Keir Choreographic Award, performed in Atlanta Eke’s ‘Miss Universal’ at Chunky Move and is set to perform in James Batchelor’s new work ‘Faces’. With her chameleonic appearance and versatility as a performer, we couldn’t think of anyone more perfect to explore the role of clothes in creating a character in our photo editorial ‘The Art of Costume’.


Leiden Editor Emma Batchelor caught up with Chloe to talk all things dance.


Emma: How did you first get into dance?

Chloe: My first real interest in dance was through QL2 dance in Canberra, I started in the junior project Chaos and continued onto participating in the Senior Project and young choreographers program Hot to Trot and On Course. I started choreographing from an early age, it was so exciting for me to be in the studio and involved in creative process. It was choreography that really fed my interest in dance and gave me the determination to pursue it.


Emma: How important was your involvement in QL2 in preparing you for your career?

Chloe: QL2 was an incredibly important platform for me as a young dancer and emerging artist. The environment is so supportive I felt so free to try out ideas; the mentors always had time to answer questions and look at what we were up to in the studio. My time at QL2 was invaluable to the early stages of my artistic development.


Emma: Describe your experiences studying dance at a tertiary level?

Chloe: I trained at the Victorian College of The Arts in Melbourne. I was very lucky to have such an incredible group of people to train with; we became such close friends and they continue to inspire me. They are based all over the world now, doing really amazing things.


Emma: Is it important to you to still return to Canberra to create art?

Chloe: I always love coming back to Canberra; QL2 still feels like a little home, they are always so welcoming and eager to hear what I have been up to. The community in Canberra is really engaged with dance and performance, there is a lot of energy and new things popping up all over the place, it’s quite exciting. My parents are still in Canberra so it’s always nice to come home and have them see my work; they have been such huge supporters of my work right from the beginning.


Emma: What themes are you currently exploring in your current practice?

Chloe: It changes all the time what I am working on, I have a lot of interests in choreography, and they seem to be forever articulated in new ways. Some core ideas I have been working with consistently over the past few years are notions of time, identity, and empathy. I like to think of choreography as an expanded practice, so I am not just working with dance but also objects, lights, and sound. I work with the body very intensively but to extend the body, allowing an audience to experience new kinds of empathy.


Emma: What will your Keir choreographic award work be looking at?

Chloe: I am looking at Shine: the dynamic glimmer or sparkle of a surface as it interacts with light. I want to look at how shine functions in contemporary culture, consumer culture, technology, seduction, and intimacy. I want to locate the choreography on the surface of the body, where shine resides, drawing tension between human empathy and surface effect, reimagining the kinds of attention and relationships that shine can produce.


Emma: What does an award like this mean to you as an emerging artist?

Chloe: The Keir in as incredible opportunity for me as an emerging artist. The platform is highly visible, drawing a new and large audience to my work. The commission provides a great deal of resources for me to make this new work. It will also be an exciting opportunity to present my work alongside the other seven commissioned artists.

Chloe will be performing in James Batchelor’s new work Faces at the Canberra Theatre Centre, 7 – 10 April 2016. Buy tickets here.

Photography by Lorna Sim

Emma Batchelor

Emma Batchelor

As well as a near obsessive interest in fashion, Emma is a former scientist, occasional contemporary dancer, avid reader and self-confessed cat lady (she has three). Emma lived in Leiden in the Netherlands as a baby and Leiden ought to have been her middle name had her mother thought of it at the time and not chosen Louise instead.

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