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Quiet by name, quiet by nature

Natalie O’Driscoll | June 2018

A moonlit kayak tour with a difference, Quiet By Nature took its audience through the Currumbin Estuary where they encountered a series of “creatures” which occupied the mangrove, beach and ocean spaces.

From their floating seats, visitors to the Gold Coast during the Commonwealth Games 2018 (GC2108) were able to explore the natural beauty of the area while watching dancers wrestle with the themes of urban and aquatic evolution. Director and performer Alicia Min Harvie explains the charm inherent in the unique event.

“It was layers of beauty, firstly floating on water is transcending,” she states. “Immediately taking you to another place where sound travels to your ears differently and there is a life below you that you have no idea about until you hear a sudden splash in the dark.

“Secondly the creatures/dancers themselves are beautiful because just like a BBC documentary you are discovering how they move, where they live, how they behave and what their agenda is at night.”

The work originated from Alicia’s working life as a kayak tour guide in the canals of Broadbeach Waters.

“As I took first-time travellers down backwaters, I was aware of the picture I paint and the impression I would give of this place,” explains Alicia. “On one side of the canal was multi-million dollar mansions and family backyards and the other mangrove parklands filled with sleeping bats. Often speedboats flying by, and other times dolphins.”

“I have deep concern for the aquatic health of the world in this age and that being a city build on the ocean and living myself on the Nerang River, I would forget how powerful and vulnerable the ocean is at my backyard. The work became about the space in-between. The magical and sad evolution.”

A relatively small production, Quiet by Nature brought together a troupe of nine dancers alongside three back of house team members and five volunteers for its five sold out shows during Festival 2018, performing to around 200 people. As it was Alicia’s first full scale production, she found the assistance provided by the City of Gold Coast’s Generate program to be invaluable.

“I have never worked with a sound designer which totally shaped the work,” she explains. “I’ve also never produced something so large. The City also fully recorded the work so that I can now represent it for future touring possibilities.

“The open opportunity to all artists meant that they uncovered new artists and connected us with more established artists and organisations and gave us the freedom to create works that have never been seen before.”

One of the main objectives of the Generate program was to foster work that was “distinctly Gold Coast”, a descriptor that fits Quiet by Nature like a glove. When you have a gold-suited acrobatic dolphin slash real estate agent selling his favourite spot as an opening act, there are only a few places in the world you could actually be. Alicia and her co-directors Viviane Frehner and Ashleigh White hope to run the event again at other Gold Coast locations, and perhaps even adapt as necessary for festivals across Australia. However its first incarnation will always hold a special place in her heart.

“For me this was living my dream, being able to work full time as an artist and contribute to the historical art landscape of a place and time. It was also great to lift up others through my project and give them opportunities for making art.”

Alicia is currently working with Gogi Dance Collective and performer Tammy Zarb on a site-specific work in the Architecture Building at Bond University, but for now she’s staying mum on the details. You can check out more of their projects at gogidancecollective.weebly.com.

Generate is a City of Gold Coast initiative through the Regional Arts Development Fund and a partnership between the Queensland Government and the City to support local arts and culture in regional Queensland. The Queensland Government also supported Generate through the GC2018 Arts and Cultural Program.

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