My name is Oliver Connew. I'm a New Zealand dancer and
choreographer, though for the past six years I've lived and worked
in Berlin, Germany, Europe's cultural powerhouse. Since moving here
after my dance training at the New Zealand School of Dance and at
Unitec's contemporary dance programme, I've worked with some
exceptional choreographers and performed all over Europe. In this
time I've been very happy as well to have made it back to New
Zealand a couple of times to create and perform my own work.
Most recently, wishing for time and good resources to deep dive
into a development of my own choreographic practice, I embarked on
a search for a Master of Choreography programme that could suit my
work and its ambitions. The first to invite me to audition was the
Exerce Master of Choreography, which has its home at the Insitut
Choréographique International (ICI) in Montpellier, France.
During their audition I could sense in the programme a real
valuing of the dancing body as well as an expectation of rigor and
radicality of practice, which is I think a rare combination and
which impressed me a lot. This feeling gave me the confidence to
believe that this was the place where my work could really
So, as one might expect, it was an ecstatic moment for me when I
received an invitation to join their two-year programme in
September 2019, just one of six artists to do so.
I am beyond excited to be heading into this new chapter and am
seriously looking forward to getting down to work there. It is a
brilliant programme and attracts some of the most accomplished and
interesting artists and tutors from around the world. It will be a
privilege to be able to work in such an esteemed environment.
[You can check out the programme yourself here on their
Collaboration between students is emphasised in the programme
and I'm certain I will gain greatly from the relationships I form
with my fellow artists - who too come from all corners of the globe
including Ivory Coast, Brazil, Israel and Canada - while I work on
my own choreographic and dance research.
I'm unlikely to have the ability during these two years in
Montpellier to make it back home, but I look forward to being able
to eventually share my development with Aotearoa, on its stages and
in its studios, once I finish the programme. (That'll be 2021!)
Before any of this can happen though, there is a bit to
organise: there's a French visa to obtain, accommodation to find, a
new language to "master" and I'm still a little unsure about how
I'm going to get my bed, bike and books down there. But perhaps
more pressing than that right now is the money matter.
Remarkably - to this New Zealander - the course fees are more or
less entirely covered by the French government and the university
itself. This leaves me just my living costs to worry about.
For this campaign I am asking for NZ$7,500 (4,500EUR). This
amount is enough to cover my accommodation costs for one year. In
my dizzying dreams, I hope to receive somewhat more than that. With
NZ$10,000 (6000EUR) from Boosted, and a bit of regular work on the
side, I'll be able to get through my first year relatively stress
free and able to really focus on my artistic work. Anything above
this would put me in good stead to handle my second year starting
I am under no illusions that what I'm asking for is a tall
order. It will require some exceptional generosity and a lot of
hard work. But let's go! I'm up for it, if you are. Thanks so much
for joining me.
And we're off!!
2 WEEKS AGO
Wind is certainly strongly in the sails and we are off to the best start imaginable! I've truly been blown away. Thank you all who have given so generously thus far, who have shared the page with friends and family and who have offered warm words of congratulation and encouragement. My gratitude is enormous. Thank you.
Right now though it's time to get back to my feet and be ready to start this second week. There is still a way to go to the ultimate goal of $10,000 and these next two weeks will be quite vital in ensuring we acheive this goal. Science tells us – I read somewhere on the internet – that on average it takes 3 prompts before someone will give to a crowdfunding campaign. With this in mond, please do not underestimate the value of your sharing the campaign's page and encouraging your friends and family to give. It helps enourmously!
On Tuesday I'll be on my way to PACT Zollverein on the outskirts of Essen, Germany to start a two week residency with Julian Weber, Stephan Quinci, Olivia McGregor and Korhan Erel. I look forward to sending through a few updates to you from here.
Until then though, thank you all again. It won't be the last!
[the image here is some graffiti not far from my house in Berlin. It seems appropriate for this moment. x]