With over 20 years professional dance experience, having won several awards and performed in various acts on a global level, Daryl Brandwood shares with us his newborn passion for contemporary dance over traditional ballet with an intricate insight into his upcoming role in internationally acclaimed choreographer Natalie Weir’s Seven Deadly Sins.
Dance is very much a physical language, and as Daryl admits, his preference for modern expressive dance came after wanting to dive into a more ‘real’ experience as an instrument of deeper self-expression. “I did ballet for years and years … I got to the point where I felt I had done and tried everything I wanted to and contemporary is just another field to move into … In actual fact I think it’s more challenging… with contemporary you have more of yourself; more interesting scenarios, more interesting works, characters and darkness.”
Daryl admits he prefers the control and personal responsibility in solo performances over group works, as he explains even the slightest individual slip up can impact upon the entire sequence. Despite his preferences, his latest involvement is mainly group centred work, with the prestigious ensemble of dancers from Expressions Dance Company in their upcoming world premiere act, Seven Deadly Sins. “This is the first one where there’s no lead – even musically it’s quite different to Natalie’s other works too. Eight of us are just all equal, all doing a bit of a solo, a duet – there’s lots of group work.” Funnily enough, his favourite scene in the performance is a male duet and trio between the sins greed, gluttony and pride, as they fight for central dominance.
Although Daryl’s accumulative achievements are impressive – holding awards from Helsinki International Ballet Competition, Green Room Award, Helpmann Award, and the 2012 Australian Dance Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Dancer to name just a few, his charisma is the least bit pretentious, as he openly acknowledged his own weaknesses helped him immerse himself deeper into his character ‘greed’.
“It’s funny I love horse racing and I love getting lotto ticket type things, maybe it’s my thing… I’m one of those people, I’m always hoping – you’ve got to be in it to win it! Greed to me is quite relatable, but it wasn’t easy to develop a character from this; it was quite hard. With my character Natalie described it a bit like Gollum from Lord of The Rings, so I decided to take a little bit of that and then started to think of gargoyles and those type of evil characters. I think greed was one of the sins easiest for society in general to relate to… it’s so much about the money – it’s one of the most powerful things…I do see greed can be quite an evil thing.”
While theatre and dance typically conveys a storyline resembling human characters, animals or maybe objects, this one is distinctly different in that ‘sins’ are intangible – they are states of minds, or dimensions of our temperament. Daryl says the hardest part about immersing himself in his character during the initial stages of developing the sequence, was trying to portray a human temperament rather than an actual ‘living’ human character, “It’s hard because we are not playing ‘real’ people … it’s like a story without us being people which is why it’s challenging – it’s like we are some sort of creatures.”
Daryl explains each sin is not spoon-fed to the audience, they have to figure it out whose playing what themselves. “Some people just like to sit and be entertained, but I think for an audience, if they really want to enjoy it they’ll have to figure out each sin for themselves… I think it will get their minds going, we don’t come out with signs saying which sin we are, it is entertaining and they’ll love the physicality of it – it’s a thinking person’s type work.”
Seven Deadly Sins will be performing in the Playhouse at South Bank’s Queensland Performing Arts Centre from August 21 to 29. The tour will also extend to the Arts Centre at the Gold Coast on September 11 and 12. For more information follow the link.
Words by Sophie Lucas