Local Person: Felicity Bott
by Lily Whiting
Felicity Bott, made the move from the “republic of Western Australia” almost a decade ago, and seeks to tell the world about Hobarts culture, history and community through the art of movement, dance and performance.
Where are you from and where do you live now? I am formerly from Perth, Western Australia. I now live in West Hobart, in view of kunanyi/Mt Wellington.
Why Hobart? Initially I moved to Launceston for three years but am now in my fourth year in Hobart. Both cities are breathtakingly beautiful every day, nestled into their respective geographies. Hobart has had more work, play and lifestyle opportunities for each of our family members, making it a better choice for us as a collective. Plus, I am now a kunanyi worshipper – I love the ever-morphing presence of the mountain – and I feel very fortunate and grateful for this.
Tell us a little about your work? I ‘work’ in contemporary dance and, in many ways, have done this since I was about six, when – finally old enough to safely put a needle to the record – I would fling my body around the loungeroom dancing to my parent’s music. Since then I have worked as a dancer in companies, a choreographer, educator, artistic director and CEO of six dance organisations, I’m artistic director of Great Southern Dance in Hobart.
What are you working on in 2022? It is exciting that, finally, the Great Southern Dance inaugural in-theatre public season Human Ba La La will play at the Theatre Royal from 1 – 9 April. The work features outstanding performers and an artistic team that is nearly all Tasmanian. Local composer Dean Stevenson is creating an original full-length composition. Architect Paul Wakelam, lighting designer Nicholas Higgins and technical producer Brendon Veronese are key also because the set design and projections will be exceptionally tailored for a live experience. We are all very happy to be back in the theatre making a thrilling 70 minute new work for audiences.
Hobart has a very close-knit community. Has this helped or hindered bringing Great Southern Dance to life? Well, our purpose is to develop and share the power of professional contemporary dance here. We are project-based and in our third year. For all our projects, we find community partners because we want to be integrally connected and ‘plugged in’ to the fabric of community life here – so we build it into the project.
The creative arts industry has copped a beating in the last few years, how has Great Southern Dance moulded itself to provide opportunities for Tasmanian dancers among uncertainty? Very deliberately from the outset – even before COVID-19 – Great Southern Dance used two main mechanisms for making contemporary dance: dance film and live performance. This meant that, when COVID hit, we were able to keep making performances by making films that could be broadcast onto screens. So much dance is watched on screens these days, this is just the way we live now. In contrast to this though, live performance in live settings (I like to describe this as ‘everyone’s nervous systems in the room’) is a completely different way of engaging with dance. This mode of production was definitely delayed by COVID-19. But happily, the performing arts community are reactivating theatres now, including us!
What do you love doing outside work? Walking in nature, particularly coastal settings. I am most familiar with the East Coast at the moment and would like to be more so!
What are you reading now? A few things. Two novellas written by dancers stand out: The dancer in your hands by Jo Pollitt and Red Stone by Sofie Burgoyne.
What gets your goat? Corruption. I experience corruption as a type of socio-cultural quicksand through which, generation after generation, genuine human talent, endeavour and ingenuity slip through, lost to us and lost to human development. It really sickens me.
What are your daily news/social media habits? Daily, I consume a combination of radio news and Twitter and for laughs I watch a selection of Youtubers with my 11-year old son. He curates. Taken together, these sources comprise quite a diverse cultural commentariat!
Your favourite place for…
Breakfast: Criterion St Café – incredible service when you arrive bleary and pre-coffee!
Lunch: Ginger Brown – the salads, exceptional.
Dinner: Dāna Eating House – unique fusion of cultural and culinary traditions
Who do you admire? Stan Grant. As he lives and breathes he is a vital cultural bridge for our times. Educated, erudite, visionary and compassionate.
Favourite podcast or tv show? After Life by Ricky Gervais has been a total stand out these past few months.
Secret vice? Alternating bites of dark chocolate with roasted almonds – letting them combine as I chew them!! Ha ha!!