Choreolab 2021

Choreolab 2021 applications have now closed.

January 11th – January 22nd 2021

Choreolab by Footnote New Zealand Dance is firmly established as the most significant professional development event for dance practitioners in Aotearoa New Zealand, drawing artists from around the country to the capital each summer.

Although we have enjoyed welcoming international guests in recent years, we are delighted to reveal a fully Aotearoa New Zealand-based tutor line-up for 2021. They are Jahra Wasasala, Kelly Nash & Nancy Wijohn, Eliza Sanders and Jeremy Beck.


Week One (mornings): Jahra Wasasala

Week One (afternoons): Kelly Nash & Nancy Wijohn

Week Two (mornings): Eliza Sanders

Week Two (afternoons): Jeremy Beck (ChoreoCo 2021 choreographer)

As always there will be a number of social events, including the infamous Choreolab boat trip!

ChoreoCo 2021 will provide a paid opportunity for five Choreolab participants to work with Jeremy Beck on the development of a new work titled A Floor, Some Thoughts, and Us. This will be a four week paid contract, from the 1st -28th February 2021 inclusive (including the week long performance season at Circa Theatre as part of the New Zealand Fringe Festival).

Choreolab 2021 Workshop details


Week One: In The World, And Of It. – Jahra Wasasala

Jahra Wasasala. Photo by Holly Burgess.

We are living in times that demand shedding, intensity, growth, sensitivity, courage and imagination. We are not idle. As artists, we have immense potential to build beyond and dismantle what is.
These sessions will be spaces of collective talanoa (kōrero), free-style cypher methods, individual movement deepening, readings, writing, choreographic research, physical confrontations, creative accountability and inner-building.

Across the week, we will centre our focus across five themes:
Dua: Origin Story
Rua: Repetition + Ritual
Tolu: Emotion vs Feeling
Va: Haunting + Healing
Lima: In the world, and of it

About Jahra Wasasala:

Jahra Wasasala is a world-builder, movement psychopomp and writer of realms of Viti/Fiji and Euro origin, living on the unceded lands of Aotearoa (New Zealand). Within the Islands of Viti, she hails from the provinces of Ba and Macuata-i-Wai.

As a student of mythology, their bloodline and deepening her work within ancestral attunement, Jahra utilises their training and specialisation within performance activation, various street dance style techniques and poetic/voice soundscape as a psychopomp for her shape-shifting and storytelling through public and personal embodiments.
A published writer and award-winning performer, Jahra’s solo and collective embodiment works have toured across Aotearoa, Australia, Hawai’i, New York, Berlin, Guahån and Canada. Jahra has created commissioned embodiments for institutions such as the Auckland War Memorial Museum in Aotearoa, The Banff Centre in Calgary, the Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC., and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
As a mentor and facilitator, Jahra has worked with Rising Voices Youth Poetry, Pacific Tongues Festival, Sailing Solo – Ta’alili Company, Action Education Inc and MIXIT Refugee Youth Arts.

Most recently Jahra recently performed their embodiment work ‘GOD-HOUSE’, commissioned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York as part of the closing event for the ‘ATEA: Nature & Divinity in Polynesia’ exhibition in October, 2019.


Week One: The unitard of the meta membrane + friends – Kelly Nash & Nancy Wijohn

Nancy Wijohn and Kelly Nash. Photo by Abi Li Zhen (Bettle & Bear Photography)

Our movement practice and choreography has been greatly influenced for the last 8 years by a physical body method called ConTact C.A.R.E (a method to release flinchlocked bones from surprise impacts).
It is a tough but an engaging path that places the skeletal system as the foundation of life and the carrier of movement. We are interested in how the shapes and pathways we take with our bodies can be understood in depth by realising our own unique bone pressures and the impacts this may have on our skeletal functions, sensory perceptions of the environment and our own survival reflexes.

We dance by using both our functional movement and the expressive movement of our own life experiences. Sometimes these things can happen simultaneously but sometimes they are in conflict. Understanding why you might decide one thing with your mind but your body wants to do another is something which can be revealed in the body’s own story and the difference between brain driven movement and instinctual movement.

Even though ConTact C.A.R.E exists as a tool for injury and impact resolution, we have found that the foundational beliefs, which support the methods ability to be successful, reveal physical truths and stimulate a very interesting conversation about movement, relationship, motivations and our perception of the world.
Our motivation for these workshops is to share ideas and perspectives on why we create the movements we instinctually do and to introduce how the ConTact C.A.R.E method can help you to understand your body’s unique movement impulses and the connection to the natural rhythms of life. To delve further into the ideas held in physics, earth’s gravity and our reflexes/impulses which become our constant partners in life.
There are lots of things we know, combined with lots of things we are hoping to discover, this is the fun part of working with others and we look forward to engaging and expanding the conversation of what motivates us to move, as we all find ways to improve our lives and those around us.

About Kelly Nash:
Kelly is a queer, femme, cross cultural (Maori, Pakeha), movement based artist living in Auckland. Her day job involves running a physical therapy business specialising in impact injuries and related trauma with Nancy Wijohn and they both are co-directors of Body I(s)land, having recently completed an online collaboration with Georgie Goater and Gesa Piper in Finland and are performing Body I(s)land in Experimental Dance Week Aotearoa at the end of 2020.
Kelly studied at Unitec Performing and Screens Arts, grad of ’98′ and has been in the NZ dance scene for 20 years in roles such as choreographer, dancer, teacher, rehearsal director and therapist. Highlights during her career have been working with Douglas Wright, having her work Indigenarchy tour the USA and the opportunity to create a work with a large budget titled Atamira for Atamira Dance Company in 2018. Her current interests are in co-creation, intimacy, body stories, martial arts, nature, animals and resisting the pull of gravity.

About Nancy Wijohn:
Nancy is known for her powerhouse performances and her striking personal image that has been used for the promotion of indigenous companies including Atamira and Okareka Dance Company.
She has been a part of the dance community for over 13 years in roles such as choreographer, teacher and performer and has extensive experience touring within NZ and abroad. As a collaborator Nancy interweaves her sporting experiences and skills as body therapist to inform her engagement with contemporary dance, igniting a passion for functional and “high” performance strategies.
Together with Kelly Nash they run their businesses Nancy + Kelly Contact C.A.R.E and Body I(s)land a contemporary dance collective.
Her highlights include performing in the streets of Prague for the Prague Quadrennial, touring Mana Wahine around the world for over four years and being part of Lisa Reihana’s work IHI currently showing at the Aotea Centre, Auckland. Nancy’s current interests are martial arts, fitness, nutrition, animals and future creative collaborations.


Week Two: Eliza Sanders

Eliza Sanders in Sarah by Glenn Ashworth. Photo by Philip Merry

Eliza’s workshops are part of an ongoing exploration of how to be in the body, with the most ease and the most inspiration simultaneously. We will explore moving with pleasure in curiosity and in not knowing. We will celebrate our inevitable beautiful failures. Each workshop is an experiment of moment-to-moment consent within ourselves and our structures, and how we negotiate this in response to different restrictions.

Each day will begin with improvisation, to warm up our awareness. The key focus of this is to activate our sensitivity to sensation, igniting our imaginative curiosity and honing our capacity for choice and agency.

Next, we will move through a series of simple structural exercises to open up the joints, find space in the body, and move with ease without excess energy or unnecessary tension. We will aim to start movement from a place of undoing, we will practice falling and opening, and we will acknowledge micro-shifts as initiators for expansive sequential movement. This section of the class is heavily influenced by Countertechnique, The Alexander Technique and my ongoing work with James O’Hara.

Finally, each day we will work with a choreographic phrase, exploring the potential of our bodies within ‘set’ moment. How can we do less to do more? More to do less? When are we procrastinating to dance? And when are we dancing to procrastinate? It is both poetic and very practical, and we work to hold these contradictions with lightness, flexibility and fun. It is diligent work of the mind to enable a playful and expansive body.

About Eliza:
Eliza is a dancer, choreographer and teacher. She holds a Bachelor of Dance Performance from the New Zealand School of Dance (NZSD) and is a certified Countertechnique teacher. Her creative practice utilises improvisation focusing on anatomical exploration and uninhibited voice work. Eliza’s work involves a prevalence of theatrical absurdity, the integration of text with movement and integrated stage and costume design.
Eliza has created multiple works on Footnote New Zealand Dance, QL2 and The New Zealand School of Dance. She is a key artist on the Make a Move program that works with school teachers for the Australian National Curriculum. Eliza works as a teacher of dance and improvisation around Australia and New Zealand with students age 5-65.
As a dancer Eliza has worked for, The World of WearableArt Awards, The Australian Dance Party, QL2, Java Dance Theatre, Body Cartography and Battleground Productions. She is a member of the Sound and Fury Ensemble and regularly performs as an independent cabaret & burlesque performer.
In 2017 Eliza collaborated with photographer Lorna Sim on a series of images. An exhibition of these titled Enigma featured at The Photo Room in Canberra in May/ June 2017.


Week Two: Jeremy Beck

Jeremy Beck in Bosch Box by Lucy Marinkovich. Photo credit: Borderline Arts Ensemble.

Jeremy Beck is excited to share his research of Alternative Technique for Choreolab 2021. Alternative Technique (otherwise known as Becknique) is a creative thinking practice.

Alternative Technique focuses on training the mind to operate the body within state based improvisation. This creative thinking practice aims to help the performer hold the body in a boundless, reactionary state, allowing for deeper connection between the body, mind and present moment. It calls upon a collection of new and known improvisation systems utilised into a unique programme that helps semi-professional and professional movers grow adept improvisational minds.

Becknique provokes the expansion of freedom and real-time creative vision within the mind and the removal of known aesthetic systems within the body. Movement stimulus, and any subsequent physicality, is generated by developing ‘living internal narratives’ – which then position the movement, choreographic content or aesthetic as a live by-product or outcome of thought process only. By removing a need for past or future, we can relinquish judgment and focus on the honest connections to the totality of our current environment and emotional being.

Choreolab’s Alternative Technique workshops will be centred around the research and development of twelve overarching concepts held within the technique. These are explored individually before layering to thoroughly challenge the thinking brain and condition the body and mind for creative endurance, eventually leading to the awareness of the present moment and creative freedom within our decisions when working with state based improvisation.

About Jeremy:
Born in Ōtepoti Aotearoa, Jeremy is an active freelance contemporary dance performer and dance maker of Ngai Tahu descent. Dancing from a young age, Jeremy’s path eventually led him to the New Zealand School of Dance, where he became a graduate in 2014. Following his training Jeremy went on to complete two years as a full-time company dancer with Footnote New Zealand Dance, performing in various works including Just Bet-ween Us, 30Forward, NOW 2015, Transfer, NOW 2016, World of WearableArts (2015, 2016) and Lifeworld (in five parts).

In 2017 Jeremy moved to pursue freelance work, performing in the 2017 Auckland Arts Festival with Atamira Dance Company for AWA – When Two Rivers Collide. Over the following years Jeremy appeared again in the World of WearableArts Awards Show (2017, 2018). He has undertaken various roles for Muscle Mouth under the movement direction of Ross McCormack – as movement support for Triumphs and Other Alternatives, a creative deviser for System, and as a performer for the premier of As It Stands in the 2019 Auckland Arts Festival. His escapades also include performing again for Atamira for the North Island tour of PANGO (2018), Atamira Re-Imagined, Movement of the Human, Chunky Move for the NGV Triennial, TOHU Productions, Tupua Tigafua in Shel We?, Joel Bray in the development of Buldrang, once more for Footnote New Zealand Dance as a guest artist in The Clearing, and other independent choreographers across Aotearoa and Australia.

Jeremy developed and performed his own solo show know one in the 2018 Wellington Fringe Festival.

To apply for Choreolab please complete the application form (click here) by midnight on Tuesday 24th November. Please also indicate whether you are interested in being considered for ChoreoCo 2021.

If you have any questions about the application process, Choreolab or ChoreoCo, please email

Applicants will be notified by Thursday 26th November. Please note that you will need to pay to secure your place and payments are non-refundable.

Choreolab 2021 fees are:
$250 (Earlybird fee if paid by December 4th) or $300 (to be paid in full by December 18th).