Oliver Connew

Montpellier Calling!

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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 flourish.

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 website: http://ici-ccn.com/en/pages/master-exerce/pr%C3%A9sentation]

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 in 2020.

 

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.

 

UPDATES

  • The Ultimate Nijinsky

    1 MONTH AGO

    Oopalah hoopalah, oh la la and howdy doody.
    Indeed, how did we do!? You’ve got me dumbstruck.

    To be honest, my excitement at getting into this programme, which I found out shortly before christmas, lasted only a mini moment. Being the Virgo I am (the same one that got partly upset when someone donated $103.50, suggesting the $3.50 be reserved for a coffee when they come to visit me there. A nice gesture no question, but the fact of the campaign not being at a round number would break any good Virgo’s heart), my excitement shortly transmogrified into mild but growing anxiety at the logistical exercise I now had to deal with. How the hell was I actually going to pull this off!? International study, the privilege that it is, is not a simple, easy or cheap venture. A late night discussion around this very topic led to the good idea to try a crowdfunding campaign with Boosted. At this stage it was still just a part of solving my logistical puzzle – an effective way to distribute the load of the task perhaps.

    I’m pleased to say though that this practical thinking didn’t last for long. Amongst the occasional moments of real panic and over the top of the underlying stress, I actually had a really good time running this campaign. Connecting with all of you, each of you, has been such a brilliant pleasure. It can be uncomfortable of course to ask for money, but the flip side in doing so is that I now will head to Montpellier in September feeling a whole community of support with me.

    That being said, I wouldn’t be able to survive on just good feelings, delicious cheeses and delicate croissants alone. Your incredible generosity and the success of the campaign means that I won’t have to endure such a misery. Phew!!

    But really, just thank you. My stress is relieved and now I get to be excited again. Thank you very very much.

    Much love to you all and I’ll send you through a photo when I get there. I can’t wait.

    Oliver

    The Ultimate Nijinsky
  • The Ultimate Nijinsky

    1 MONTH AGO

    Oopalah hoopalah, oh la la and howdy doody.
    Indeed, how did we do!? You’ve got me dumbstruck.

    To be honest, my excitement at getting into this programme, which I found out shortly before christmas, lasted only a mini moment. Being the Virgo I am (the same one that got partly upset when someone donated $103.50, suggesting the $3.50 be reserved for a coffee when they come to visit me there. A nice gesture no question, but the fact of the campaign not being at a round number would break any good Virgo’s heart), my excitement shortly transmogrified into mild but growing anxiety at the logistical exercise I now had to deal with. How the hell was I actually going to pull this off!? International study, the privilege that it is, is not a simple, easy or cheap venture. A late night discussion around this very topic led to the good idea to try a crowdfunding campaign with Boosted. At this stage it was still just a part of solving my logistical puzzle – an effective way to distribute the load of the task perhaps.

    I’m pleased to say though that this practical thinking didn’t last for long. Amongst the occasional moments of real panic and over the top of the underlying stress, I actually had a really good time running this campaign. Connecting with all of you, each of you, has been such a brilliant pleasure. It can be uncomfortable of course to ask for money, but the flip side in doing so is that I now will head to Montpellier in September feeling a whole community of support with me.

    That being said, I wouldn’t be able to survive on just good feelings, delicious cheeses and delicate croissants alone. Your incredible generosity and the success of the campaign means that I won’t have to endure such a misery. Phew!!

    But really, just thank you. My stress is relieved and now I get to be excited again. Thank you very very much.

    Much love to you all and I’ll send you through a photo when I get there. I can’t wait.

    Oliver

    The Ultimate Nijinsky
  • All hands on deck!

    2 MONTHS AGO

    Hello all,

    It was a busy, productive and wonderful time in residency at PACT Zollverein in Essen these last two weeks (with Olivia McGregor, Stephan Quinci, Korhan Erel and Julian Weber). So much so though that I am only now getting round to this update!

    We are nearing the final days of the campaign, 11 days to be precise. There is still $3105 (1800EUR) left to raise. I am in full and total belief that this can be done, but it is going to require quite a mammoth effort. I need all available hands on deck!

    Boosted is an all or nothing platform, meaning that if the target is not reached, all your generosity will not be fulfilled, i.e. I will not get a cent. Yikes!

    So how can you make sure your contribution counts!?

    Sharing on social media is of course an amazing way to get the word out there. My social media bubble mainly consists of fellow artists…which is only going to get us so far unfortunately! But your enthusiastic sharing of the page could get it in front of some willing and able people who can get this over the line.

    Then personal messages are an even more potent way of reaching people. Is there anyone in your networks, friends or (extended) families who might be craving a great opportunity to support the arts? Think think! Send them a message. Or three!!

    Thank you very very much in advance!!

    Much love and a little panic,

    Ollie

    PS for the small few of you who reside in Berlin, remember that we have a post-PACT research showing on the 23rd May, 18h at Pollution Space in Wedding. Hope you can make it!

    All hands on deck!
  • And we're off!!

    2 MONTHS 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]

    And we're off!!

Oliver Connew

Established in 2011 to nurture the musings of Oliver Connew. Through dance and movement, Salted:Singlet promotes investigation, innovation, collaboration and cooperation.

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