Artist in Residence Podcast: Sarah Foster-Sproull

Acclaimed choreographer Sarah Foster-Sproull has made you a personalised audio performance.

Posted on
08.05.20

Self-isolation is hard. Art can help everyone. Artist in Residence is an immersive podcast series made in collaboration with ten New Zealand artists across theatre, music, poetry and dance. Each artist has made you a 15-minute personalised performance to help with one thing you might be feeling in isolation.

Sarah Foster-Sproull is an acclaimed choreographer working in New Zealand and internationally. She is the Artistic Director of Foster Group Dance (ORCHIDS) and Creative New Zealand’s Choreographic Fellow for 2017-2019. Sarah has choreographic relationships with Footnote New Zealand Dance, The Royal New Zealand Ballet Company, Tamsyn Russell and DanceBase (Edinburgh), Guangdong Modern Dance Company (China), T.H.E. (Singapore), and VOU (Fiji). To date, her choreographic work has been performed in New Zealand, Singapore, China, Britain, Ireland, Scotland, Canada, and Fiji.

Sarah is a Senior Lecturer in Dance Studies at the University of Auckland. She holds a Masters in Dance Studies from the University of Auckland with a focus on dancer-centred choreographic leadership. Her choreographic research traverses large scale works for up to 35 performers, to intimate performances involving one or two dancers. In her previous career as a performer, Sarah was a founding dancer and choreographer of The New Zealand Dance Company, and additionally danced for kiwi legends Douglas Wright, Malia Johnston, Michael Parmenter, and Raewyn Hill.

Artist in Residence: Sarah Foster-Sproull

The Forest of Hands

Sarah has created The Forest of Hands, an audio performance for lockdown, to listen to when you need to retrace touch.

Listen in a corridor, with a little space to move.

This episode is available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Soundcloud, our RSS feed and right here.

If you're listening from mobile, Apple, Spotify and Soundcloud are preferable to the below player (as the sound won't cut out when your phone goes to sleep!)

We recommend headphones.

Each artist has provided you with sleeve notes for their episode. Sarah's sleeve notes are below.

Sarah Foster-Sproull

Sleeve notes for The Forest of Hands

Sarah Foster-Sproull

Making a choreographic process into an auditory experience is exactly the sort of artistic challenge I am looking for during lockdown. When Kate Prior came to me with the wild proposal to explore an aural choreographic podcast for this project it was a HARD YES, with no hesitation.

I started to envision how – through text and sound – I might lay bare some of the intuitive and surreal processes and visions I traverse whilst making a dance work. Of course, I procrastinated a bit, because I was freaked out. And also, I remembered a friend of mine once laughing about the hypothetical proposition of a tap-dancing radio play. Whilst I laughed with him at the time, I now think why the hell not?

Starting The Forest of Hands was quite an experimental process. It felt very sculptural, carving away until a clear shape emerged. But once that shape revealed itself, it was very exciting chasing it to the end.

I danced. Wrote the dance movement into text. Re-animated the text back into movement, and then refined the movement back into text alongside my collaborator/partner Andrew Foster.

I think being made in the context of lockdown is, of course, a major resonance. I was particularly interested in the relationships between isolation and perception. The brain has a lot of freedom when we are alone, it has space to roam around and make connections. I liked the way I was starting to find forgotten memories in the strangest places. I liked the way that familiar sounds, objects and places feel alien in the light of what we are calling the new normal. Like a tree under a streetlamp.

I was conscious too, that I wanted to leave room for the listener’s imagination. In this work I guide you through surreal images akin to the choreographic narratives within my dance work. I invite you to engage in gentle movement responses from within the comfort of your own home. Sometimes you might listen, feel and perceive, while other times I hope you will move in harmony or in response to my provocations.

I guess the guiding theme of the work is actually about that strange way in which art connects us all. Not that it should ever be the artist’s place to tell you what their artwork is about. That would diminish the free roaming of your brain. I’ll leave you, gentle listener, to set yourself adrift in this and find your own memories.

Episode Credits

Created and performed by Sarah Foster-Sproull
Composition and soundscape: Andrew Foster
Sound design: Byron Coll

Theme music: C. Frances Duncan and Ruby Solly 
Graphic design: Sarah Gladwell
Produced by Kate Prior for The Pantograph Punch
Made with the support of NZ on Air

You can listen to Artist in Residence: Sarah Foster-Sproull on Apple PodcastsSpotify, Soundcloud, our RSS feed and above.