Victorian Seniors Festival Reimagined 2020

Caroline Bowditch - Week 23

Tristan Meecham

Caroline Bowditch is an internationally renowned performance artist, dance maker, choreographer and passionate arts and inclusion activist. For the last sixteen years, she’s been working in the UK and, recently, Victoria welcomed her home and we’re thrilled to welcome her here to In The Groove. Caroline, how are you?

Caroline Bowditch

Very well, thank you, Tristan, and thanks so much for having me. It’s a real joy to be part of this.

Tristan Meecham

Caroline, what is your earliest memory of dance?

Caroline Bowditch

When I was probably about six or seven, dressed in a tiny, weeny little black strapless leotard, thinking of myself as Olivia Newton-John from Grease. Side ponytail, lots of very bad makeup going on. That’s really where dancing started for me.

Tristan Meecham

What are the values that underpin your creative practice?

Caroline Bowditch

I think I make always from a place of curiosity. I think about myself as being a bit of a reactive choreographer. I make with purpose. I make work that I feel needs to be made, that has a really strong and clear story to tell and I like to think that it all comes from a place of love. I always want to perform and make work that is a conversation. When I’ve made work recently, it’s very much been about the interaction. I don’t like performing for a passive audience. I hate the thought of people coming in, sitting in the dark in their seats and expecting to be entertained.

Tristan Meecham

Your artistic practice has many glorious intersections. It’s inclusive, superbly queer and creative for young and old alike. In fact, I have a very soft spot for a particular work that you’ve created for children and families with a delightful snail. What can we learn from children as audiences?

Caroline Bowditch

They are the most honest audience that you will ever find. If they don’t like it, they will walk away and there is something joyous about that. I get lots of questions from kids about "why are you so little?" and so I tell them and then it’s like "My Dad snores really bad" or they’ll move on to something completely different and there is something fantastic about that.

Tristan Meecham

Falling in love with Frida was a wonderful work that you’ve created. Tell us about this work and how Frida inspired your practice.

Caroline Bowditch

Falling in love with Frida is about the life, loves and legacy of Frida Kahlo, the Mexican painter who lived with disability for her whole life. It’s not the thing that people necessarily know about Frida. I wanted to reclaim her as a disabled artist and I wanted to tell her story from a disability perspective. People came, expecting to learn about Frida, which hopefully they did, but mostly they learnt about me.

Caroline Bowditch

You’ve recently moved back home. The UK’s loss and Victoria’s gain, to take on the role of CEO of Arts Access Victoria.

Caroline Bowditch

I was a freelance artist in the UK for sixteen years. When this role came up, it felt like the timing was perfect. I felt like I had spent 16 years, gathering wisdom, experience and knowledge to really bring back. I feel like that the art sector is really hungry to have this conversation about how we can become more inclusive and more accessible and to really value the work of deaf and disabled artists and that is always a massive enticement for me.

Tristan Meecham

Arts Access Victoria has been running programs for many years. In fact, next year, Art Day South turns 30. That must fill you with pride.

Caroline Bowditch

The amazing thing about Art Day South is that it retains so many of the original members that have been involved since the beginning. So, they’ve grown older with us. They continue to be involved and all of those artists would be labelled as having an intellectual disability but, to us, they’re artists. They’re practicing artists.

Tristan Meecham

Finally, Caroline, can you please introduce your piece for the Victorian Seniors Festival and why you’ve chosen to create this for us today?

Caroline Bowditch

I haven’t made anything for the last two years. So, since I came into the role as CEO, I haven’t made work and we were listening to our friend, Zac Scott’s album and this song that I chose to use in the performance came on and I said to my partner, Laura, I want to choreograph something to this.

[Caroline, performing to the music]

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29 September 2020
Duration: 7:31

Arts Access CEO Caroline Bowditch has choreographed, performed and created works that have toured internationally, has helped found performance companies and has worked as an accessibility and inclusivity consultant.

Read Caroline's Performer Profile

Take a look at Arts Access Victoria: www.artsaccess.com.au/

Victorian Seniors Festival Reimagined 2020

Caroline Bowditch - Week 23

Tristan Meecham

Caroline Bowditch is an internationally renowned performance artist, dance maker, choreographer and passionate arts and inclusion activist. For the last sixteen years, she’s been working in the UK and, recently, Victoria welcomed her home and we’re thrilled to welcome her here to In The Groove. Caroline, how are you?

Caroline Bowditch

Very well, thank you, Tristan, and thanks so much for having me. It’s a real joy to be part of this.

Tristan Meecham

Caroline, what is your earliest memory of dance?

Caroline Bowditch

When I was probably about six or seven, dressed in a tiny, weeny little black strapless leotard, thinking of myself as Olivia Newton-John from Grease. Side ponytail, lots of very bad makeup going on. That’s really where dancing started for me.

Tristan Meecham

What are the values that underpin your creative practice?

Caroline Bowditch

I think I make always from a place of curiosity. I think about myself as being a bit of a reactive choreographer. I make with purpose. I make work that I feel needs to be made, that has a really strong and clear story to tell and I like to think that it all comes from a place of love. I always want to perform and make work that is a conversation. When I’ve made work recently, it’s very much been about the interaction. I don’t like performing for a passive audience. I hate the thought of people coming in, sitting in the dark in their seats and expecting to be entertained.

Tristan Meecham

Your artistic practice has many glorious intersections. It’s inclusive, superbly queer and creative for young and old alike. In fact, I have a very soft spot for a particular work that you’ve created for children and families with a delightful snail. What can we learn from children as audiences?

Caroline Bowditch

They are the most honest audience that you will ever find. If they don’t like it, they will walk away and there is something joyous about that. I get lots of questions from kids about "why are you so little?" and so I tell them and then it’s like "My Dad snores really bad" or they’ll move on to something completely different and there is something fantastic about that.

Tristan Meecham

Falling in love with Frida was a wonderful work that you’ve created. Tell us about this work and how Frida inspired your practice.

Caroline Bowditch

Falling in love with Frida is about the life, loves and legacy of Frida Kahlo, the Mexican painter who lived with disability for her whole life. It’s not the thing that people necessarily know about Frida. I wanted to reclaim her as a disabled artist and I wanted to tell her story from a disability perspective. People came, expecting to learn about Frida, which hopefully they did, but mostly they learnt about me.

Caroline Bowditch

You’ve recently moved back home. The UK’s loss and Victoria’s gain, to take on the role of CEO of Arts Access Victoria.

Caroline Bowditch

I was a freelance artist in the UK for sixteen years. When this role came up, it felt like the timing was perfect. I felt like I had spent 16 years, gathering wisdom, experience and knowledge to really bring back. I feel like that the art sector is really hungry to have this conversation about how we can become more inclusive and more accessible and to really value the work of deaf and disabled artists and that is always a massive enticement for me.

Tristan Meecham

Arts Access Victoria has been running programs for many years. In fact, next year, Art Day South turns 30. That must fill you with pride.

Caroline Bowditch

The amazing thing about Art Day South is that it retains so many of the original members that have been involved since the beginning. So, they’ve grown older with us. They continue to be involved and all of those artists would be labelled as having an intellectual disability but, to us, they’re artists. They’re practicing artists.

Tristan Meecham

Finally, Caroline, can you please introduce your piece for the Victorian Seniors Festival and why you’ve chosen to create this for us today?

Caroline Bowditch

I haven’t made anything for the last two years. So, since I came into the role as CEO, I haven’t made work and we were listening to our friend, Zac Scott’s album and this song that I chose to use in the performance came on and I said to my partner, Laura, I want to choreograph something to this.

[Caroline, performing to the music]

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