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Artistic Director Marc Brew about AXIS Dance Company's 30th Anniversary and New York Season at Gibney Dance

Artistic Director Marc Brew about AXIS Dance Company's 30th Anniversary and New York Season at Gibney Dance
Stacey Menchel Kussell

By Stacey Menchel Kussell
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Published on November 13, 2017
Photo: David DeSilva

AXIS Dance Company's 30th Anniversary Season 
Thursday, November 16–Saturday, November 18 at 8 p.m.

Choreography: Marc Brew; Amy Seiwert; Maurya Kerr, Alex Ketley, and Bobbi Jene Smith
Tickets: $20–$25; Click on the Gibney Dance website to purchase
Venue: Studio H at Gibney Dance: Agnes Varis Performing Arts Center, 280 Broadway (entrance at 53A Chambers)

Pictured above: Dancers Dwayne Scheuneman, James Bowen and Lani Dickinson in foreground in Marc Brew's Radical Impact

Renowned dancer and choreographer Marc Brew became the newest artistic director of AXIS Dance Company this past May. Bringing with him over a decade of international experience, he continues to create boundary-breaking choreography, and increase the opportunities available for disabled dancers. AXIS celebrates its 30th anniversary with a new season at Gibney Dance taking place November 16-18, 2017. The Dance Enthusiast had an opportunity to speak with Marc about his career, the upcoming performance, and the company’s new educational initiatives.

A woman with curly hair wraps her arms around Marc Brew. We see his face in side profile and his arms gesture out in front of him.
Marc Brew; Photo: Natalia Mallo

Stacey Menchel Kussell for The Dance Enthusiast: How did you start in dance, and how did your disability transform your career?

Marc Brew: I started dance as a child in very small town in Australia. I went on to study at an arts high school in Melbourne and then furthered my studies at the Australian Ballet School. Eventually I became a dancer with the Australian Ballet and then later at the State Theater of South Africa.  

I acquired my injury in 1997 in a car accident in South Africa. Hit by a drunk driver, my three friends died and I survived with a chest down spinal cord injury. It was the worst nightmare for a dancer — for anyone. Although I returned to Australia for my recovery, I was soon told about opportunities for disabled dance in New York City. I started dancing with the Infinity dance company in New York, and then went to dance with Candoco Dance Company from 2003-2008 in London.

TDE: What inspired you to choreograph? What do you explore in your works?

MB: For a while after the accident, I stopped looking at myself in the mirror; and then one day, a shift occurred. I started being interested in what my body could do and how I could push past restriction.

Even early in my career as a dancer with the Australian Ballet I was choreographing pieces. Once I acquired my disability, I found I needed to communicate in different ways with my dancers. I had to be better about my descriptions of movement and the clarity of my voice and touch.

Dancers in white and red create a tall tableau. A few dancers contort around another performer in a wheelchair. One dancer stands above them.
 Lani Dickinson and full company of AXIS Dancers in Marc Brew's Radical Impact; Photo: David DeSilva

TDE: What new initiatives are you developing at AXIS?

MB: In addition to expanding the repertory, AXIS is growing in many ways. We now have six dancers in the company, which is the largest number to date. Starting this summer we will begin a mentoring program for younger dancers with disabilities, and have also begun a series of choreographic modules.

TDE: What is new for AXIS repertory?

MB: This season we are doing Radical Impact, a piece that I created in collaboration with a Bay Area musician JooWan Kim of the Hip Hop Orchestra. We are also premiering Reflective Surface a work by San Francisco choreographer Amy Seiwert, and In Defense of Regret, a collective choreographic effort by Bobbi Jene Smith, Alex Ketley, and Maurya Kerr. There is such a great energy in the company, and I am so excited to be aboard to continue to build upon this amazing foundation. 

The Dance Enthusiast Asks Questions and Creates Conversation.
For more of The Dance Enthusiast Asks, click here.  Read our 2015 IMPRESSIONS of Heidi Latsky Dance and AXIS Dance Company here
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