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Front Foot | Back Beat


Front Foot | Back Beat is a public dance collaboration that brought together a diverse range of people to work together over some months, to create a new dance work. The project is the third in a trilogy of dance initiatives, under the guidance of dancer and community artist Samara Cunningham, combining trained and untrained dancers, across a range of ages and abilities.


Front Foot | Back Beat builds on the experience of two previous dance projects—Fill The Void (2021) and Action Station (2022). Fill The Void was a an extraordinary undertaking, in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, which somehow managed to culminate in a public performance at the Meeniyan Hall, during a gap in Covid lockdowns. The success of that creation, along with the enthusiasm of both audience and performers, encouraged us to tackle a new project, following the same model. So, the following year, we conjured Action Station into being. It was a different venue—the Fish Creek Memorial Hall—and a different mix of participants, who’d heard how special the first one was.


Then, some vague notion of symmetry brought a third project into the equation, to form a trilogy. And so, Front Foot | Back Beat was formed. As with the other two, the goal wasn’t simply a performance. The focus of this was very much about process, and about a journey—forming bonds, building skills and confidence, and making something special that hadn’t existed before. For many of the people involved, this was all new, making it into quite a transformative experience. Again, the final performance was held at the Fish Creek Memorial Hall.


My involvement from the very conception of the Fill The Void, and with each subsequent project, was as composer and sound designer of original soundtracks, which, combined with some beautiful video projections from Kate Russell and lighting design from Mark Harrison.


These projects are always greater than the sum of the parts.

But all credit goes to Samara Cunningham, who has the most extraordinary and sublime skills, to take a group of people who’ve never worked together, and may never have danced before, and give them the confidence to create, and permission to experiment. It is a rare and generous gift. The group performed Front Foot | Back Beat to a large audience on Saturday 16th September 2023. Again, the response was thoroughly enthusiastic.

You can listen to the soundtrack here …

FF|BB - performance mix

© 2013—Music composed by Michael Shirrefs

Performers & Creators


Hannah Bradsworth
Wing Yi Chan
Elizabeth Collins
Elowen Costin
Lynden Costin
Bev Cowan
James Friday
Tiffany Friday
Amanda McVilly
Bridget Nicholson
Kate Russell
Jasmine Susic
Marg Watson

Costume Designer
Technical Director
Lighting Technician
Arts Support

Samara Cunningham
Michael Shirrefs
Mayumi McPhee
Mark Harrison
William McCarthy
Jasmin Susic
Joel Sharpe
Lauren Murphy

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Filed under: music, works