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Perth dancer Liam Green’s homecoming in Sydney Dance Company work Impermanence

Given the worldwide disruption of recent years, it seems only fitting that when Sydney Dance Company finally brings contemporary choreographer Rafael Bonachela and composer Bryce Dessner’s Impermanence to WA, that it will be the third iteration of their work.

First conceived as a 40-minute piece in response to the burning of Notre Dame Cathedral, followed by the Australian east coast bushfires in 2019-20, the origin of Impermanence lies in the idea of epic monuments crumbling and rebuilding.

It was due to be part of a triple bill in March 2020 and then once COVID-19 hit, took on a whole new meaning and was turned into a full length work during Sydney’s lockdown, premiering in February 2021 before the national tour in June was stopped in its tracks again.

Liam Green, right, in Impermanence
Camera IconLiam Green, right, in Impermanence Credit: Pedro Greig

“The crumbling of Notre Dame didn’t even compare to the crumbling of everybody’s lives and everything that we knew beforehand,” Perth-raised dancer Liam Green says.

“So it took on a shape in a different way and . . . there was this urge to be back in the studio, so some of the bits are very hungry. I think the beauty of the work is that it’s not been the same across these three iterations, it keeps growing and I think that is the core concept of the piece.”

Green joined Sydney Dance Company in 2019, after the South Lake teenager was accepted into WAAPA’s advanced diploma of dance at just 15 years old, going on to join WA Ballet as a young artist at 18 and moving through the ballet company’s ranks in 5½ years to leave as a demi-soloist.

His first season at WA Ballet as a full-time artist was in Radio and Juliet, performed to the music of Radiohead, and he still regards it as one of the best works he has ever performed.

Sydney Dance Company dancer Liam Green.
Camera IconSydney Dance Company dancer Liam Green. Credit: Supplied

“I think I did 25 seasons with WA Ballet and all of them were high class, fantastic, I had a great time and loved it, but I sort of needed to look into something else and at the point that I left, it was time for me to leave,” 27-year-old Green explains.

“It was specifically Raf’s (artistic director Bonachela) work that I loved at Sydney Dance Company because it’s such a combination of high technical quality.

“I still use a lot of my ballet technique in what we do and in Impermanence specifically I find it hugely technical, but it allows for the artistic expression that ballet sort of sometimes lacks. Because there’s no narrative or set position on the piece, you get to explore things differently every time and delve into ideas for yourself that perhaps wouldn’t have been possible if there were that clear-cut story arc of a ballet.”

Liam Green, left, in Impermanence.
Camera IconLiam Green, left, in Impermanence. Credit: Pedro Greig

A founding member of American rock band the National, Dessner’s powerful score was created in collaboration with Australian String Quartet which performs live with Sydney Dance Company on its Australian tour.

Green says the quartet had a huge influence over the piece, and how it is played, resulting in them feeling a real sense of ownership over it.

“Instead of them playing for us, it really is this combination of two art forms coming together on the one stage,” he shares.

“They do sit on the stage with us and the choreography does sometime revolve around what they’re doing. It’s very integrated and we’ve gotten to know them really well.”

Liam Green and Australian String Quartet in Impermanence.
Camera IconLiam Green and Australian String Quartet in Impermanence. Credit: Pedro Greig

Sydney Dance Company is touring Impermanence regionally to Kalgoorlie, Albany and Karratha before the Mandurah Performing Arts Centre and Pedro the State Theatre Centre of WA’s Heath Ledger Theatre.

It will be the first time Green has performed in Perth since 2018 and it is difficult to tell who is more excited about the homecoming, him or his family.

Liam Green in Impermanence.
Camera IconLiam Green in Impermanence. Credit: Pedro Greig

“My mum is very excited and I think she’s coming to every single show,” he laughs.

“Going to places like Kalgoorlie, Karratha and Albany, they’re all places I’ve been before but not for so long. It’ll be so nice to experience all of that again and see all my friends. People have had weddings and babies and everything that I’ve just missed because we haven’t been able to travel.

“I think there’s going to be a couple of different aspects for me personally that are quite special.”

Impermanence is at Mandurah Performing Arts Centre on August 6 and Heath Ledger Theatre, August 10-13.

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