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Case Studies Lewis Major | National Regional Arts Fellowship Program Case Study (2021)

This Fellowship was to allow Lewis to undertake a week-long period of personal movement research leading into a series of intensive periods of creative development for three major new dance works. These activities were to extend Lewis’s professional practice and increase Lewis’s reputation in the long term as part of a broader, multi-year strategy to enhance the artistic development of Lewis’s own local, regionally focussed, and internationally aligned work, and the regional communities that Lewis works within.

Lewis Major is a National Regional Arts Fellowship 2021 recipient via the Regional Arts Fund as managed by Regional Arts Australia.

The fellowship greatly developed Lewis’s practice by helping Lewis to extend the current methods of working, and even with the added stressors of COVID complications, helped Lewis to connect with other frames of reference (motion capture, Livestream, and further community collaboration).

“The project allowed me that most valuable thing as an independent, regional choreographer: the time and space to challenge myself and try new things with my choreographic practice and independent producing capability”

The project developed wider artform thinking and pushed the bounds of form by allowing another frame of connection to Lewis’s work (through Livestream and the creation of a dance film and bones of future work through motion capture) which was incredibly instructive, not just on this project, but for future projects as well. These activities significantly extended Lewis’s professional practice and increased Lewis’s reputation locally, nationally, and internationally and greatly helped Lewis’s broader strategy of boosting their standing as an independent, regional choreographer, creating intelligent, informative and relevant work to audiences.

The work was not only Livestreamed but also recorded professionally and submitted as a dance film in the Adelaide Fringe 2022 where it won Best Dance Work as part of that festival. The work Ophelia was seen by Adelaide Festival directors Neil Armfield and Rachel Healey and lavished with praise by them. Neil Armfield, upon seeing the work, then invited Lewis to choreograph the brand new oratorio, Watershed: The Death of Dr Duncan, as part of Adelaide Festival 2022, where it was met with extensive accolades by audiences and critics alike. This work, Ophelia forming the bones of that choreography, is now touring to Sydney Opera House, Canberra and Melbourne Festival, and will be performed in New York in 2025.

The dance solo, Cut, created as part of this Fellowship was presented in Singapore by Christina Chan in August and has led to an invitation to travel there later next year and create work with the Singapore Dance Theatre, an incredibly prestigious dance organisation, and something that only came about due to this Fellowship activity.

Long-term legacy outcomes in the form of connection to other local dancers (the 11 local students and performers) who joined Lewis on stage for the presentation outcome of this Fellowship, have continued in the form of other performances undertaken in Mount Gambier (in April 2022) and workshops taught there regularly since the conclusion of Lewis’s Fellowship.

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Ophelia 1, Photograph by Chris Herzfeld