Dancenorth presents Wayfinder, a post-pandemic celebration of art, music, dance and knitting

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The humble art of knitting is rarely given the spotlight, but a new performance by one of Australia’s leading dance companies is literally putting it center stage.

Dancenorth premiered their production of Wayfinder at the North Australian Festival of Arts in Townsville, blending contemporary dance, music and art.

More than 100 volunteers came together in a series of “knitting sessions” to create the wool ensemble and accessories, which were incorporated into the choreography.

Dancenorth artists rehearse Wayfinder, which premiered at the North Australian Festival of Arts. (ABC North Qld: Lily Nothling)

“Countless balls of yarn were used in the making of this show,” said associate designer Chloe Greaves.

“Our production manager calculated it to be around 65 kilometres.

“Wayfinder as a work is about finding connection after COVID, and it’s the idea that the energy and spirit of the people of Townsville has literally been brought into the work.”

A dancer sits on stage holding five long strands of colorful yarn
Wayfinder mixes contemporary dance, music and art. (Provided: Dancenorth)

The show is a creative collaboration of major proportions.

Wayfinder features the music of Melbourne’s Grammy-nominated Hiatus band Kaiyote and sound artist Byron Scullin, alongside the colorful works of acclaimed Japanese-Australian visual artist Hiromi Tango.

One hundred speaker “orbs” will be scattered throughout the audience, allowing light and music to vibrate through the crowd.

“So it’s a visual feast for the eyes, a feast for the ears,” said Dancenorth artistic director Kyle Page.

A dancer dressed in green makes a head-stand on a pile of colorful knitted wool
The dance company hopes to take Wayfinder on an international tour as the world reopens after COVID.(Provided: Dancenorth)

“The idea was born after the pandemic, and we recognize the fact that there is so much fear and so much anxiety and so much isolation and distance in the world.

“We wanted to create an offering that really went against that experience that people have had for the past two years, so it’s a gift, it’s a beacon of hope.”

Ms Greaves said the costumes were all created from donated and recycled clothing and the wool was purchased from Ops stores.

“Everything is second-hand and durable and already has a life, which is kind of exciting because it speaks to the journey of the work,” she said.

A woman smiles while sewing a piece of orange fabric on a sewing machine
Designer Chloe Greaves created the show’s costumes from donated and recycled clothing. (ABC News: Steve Keen)

After its local debut in Townsville, Wayfinder will be presented at the Brisbane Festival in September, and the company intends to tour internationally.

Dancer Marlo Benjamin said the performance was unlike anything she had participated in before.

“I think it’s really going to sing for a lot of different kinds of people and cultures,” she said.

“It’s a very nice escape and a vision of the future.”

The dancers were stacked close together with their arms outstretched above them
Townsville-based Dancenorth is one of Australia’s leading contemporary dance companies. (ABC North Qld: Lily Nothling)
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