Dean Walsh

Dean Walsh.jpg

Dean Walsh wasn’t exposed to dance until he was 20. Finding dance changed his life’s direction radically, having spent 3 years as a rather lost roof waterproofing tradesman and fashion shop assistant. With a new future presenting itself and his being filled with a need to express and undress, a dance friend recommended he attend the Bodenwieser Dance Centre in Sydney. Under the direction of renowned teacher, Margaret Chapple, he quickly learned dance had potential to embodied creative, poetic and political communication and convey the unspeakable.

After 2.5 years training, he set off on a career in dance, choreographing a group work, Transcended kNights, for Performance Space’s (PS) 1990 Open Season. This got him some attention and he was invited back the next year to present a solo for the same event. This resulted in Subtle Jetlag then a few months later he created a trio Homme Fatale for the inaugural Independent Dance Collections (IDC) at the Studio Theatre, Newtown.

These works firmly set him in amongst the independent contemporary dance and performance heavy-weights in Sydney at the time. He was soon being mentored and encouraged to make works for various national and international queer and mainstream performance/dance festivals including: IDC 1992-1996, PS’s Open Seasons 1992-1995, One Extra Dance 2000-2005, Performance Positive (Pride Centre) 1996-1997, cLUB bENT / Mardi Gras Cultural Festival 1995-2001, Bodies Festival 1997 & 1998, Contemporary Performance Week 1997-2000 and Quick n Dirty PS / Mardi Gras Festival at Carriageworks 2009-2010. Many of his works have toured nationally and internationally - UK, NYC, Paris and throughout Japan.

In tandem to this, Dean has collaborated/performed with various companies, some for several works, including: One Extra Co, Big Bang Theory (Garry Stewart), Performing Creatures (Nikki Heywood), Sidetrack Performance Group, The Opera project (Nigel Kellaway), ADT (Garry Stewart), No Apology (Paul Selwyn Norton) Holland 2004 and Lloyd Newson’s DV8 in London 2002-2005.

Dean has made over 45 works to date, solo to group, including 24 works he identifies as queer and/or disability integrated, due to their content, cast members, compositional methodology and the communities they were reflecting. In 2002, commissioned by the international Gay Games Cultural Festival, he premiered his seminal full-length solo Flesh: Memo, winning ‘best independent inventive theatre production’. Also in 2002 he won the Australian Dance Award for ‘most outstanding male dancer’ for ADT’s Age of Unbeauty. In 2008 he premiered a large-scale group work Back From Front at PS at Carriageworks attracting an extremely diverse audience and a $10,000 donation (provocatively) from the Department of Defence’s psychology dpt. Since 1997 he has also made 12 works for tertiary students at: UNSW, UWS, Evolve Dance, WAAPA and QUT. In 2012 and 2014 he choreographed for the Catalyst Masterclasses for Accessible Arts, Sydney. Between 2011 and 2017 he was movement coach / consultant / collaborator and choreographer (alongside founding director, Alison Richardson) for RUCKUS ensemble. Together this group made two full-length works ‘See In Me’ 2012 and ‘Speed of Life’ 2016, including a tour to Epic Arts Centre in Cambodia in 2016.

On his return to Australia in 2005 (post 3 years abroad initiated by his Robert Helpmann Scholarship), Dean embarked upon a research period to try out some new ideas looking into constructing a system of movement modalities inspired by his long-held interests in marine ecology, biology and by some of the choreographic methods of leading practitioners he worked with in the UK and Europe. What he discovered really excited him. In 2007, with a select group of dancers, he received a Critical Path 3-week residency to extend his new system of research, then called Foreign Language (later becoming PrimeOrderly - PO). This research gave him renewed insights into marine eco-systems and their state of degradation due to the effects of climate change. His passion to continue this research was sealed.

In 2010 he was invited to attend the 3-day Tipping Point conference held at Carriageworks and was also successful with his Australia Council 2-year Fellowship application for 2011-2012 to investigate PO in far deeper quantities. During and post his fellowship he created 5 new works: Fathom at PS in 2011, iSell-Fish Critical Path SEAM launch 2012, SeeAnEnemy? and Under Pressure as part of Dance Bites through FORM Dance Projects 2012, SubMarine a 3-week long community event he helmed in Hobart in August 2013 in collaboration with Tasdance, National Science Week and IMAS (Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies) and Intruders, partly commissioned by the international World Parks Congress in 2014 (Olympic Park Stadiums) including a full hour lecture demonstration showing to invited key WPC oceanic delegates and other marine / arts people, held at Riverside Theatres, Parramatta.

Dean has steadily developed PrimeOrderly into a complex, layered but accessible embodied marine environmental choreographic, teaching and movement research methodology, aiming to engage all minds and bodies in new ways of communicating and comprehending climate change concerns from a marine perspective. This includes his insights as a Master Scuba Diver - the highest qualification prior to becoming professional.

Dean has tutored for many leading dance and theatre courses across Australia, for 3 months at the New Dance Development Centre, Amsterdam in 2004, a week at Enhime University in Japan in 2006 and 3-weeks teaching during a residency at Dance Base in Edinburgh, Scotland in 2007. Throughout 2016 and 2017 was tutor in performing arts for the Access2Ed program at Sydney Community College – a education program for people living with disability.