Dance ensemble marks 20 years of movement
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Dance ensemble marks 20 years of movement

Two Zero. QL2. The Playhouse, Canberra Theatre Centre. August 9 to 11 at 7pm and August 11 at 2pm.  Tickets: canberratheatrecentre.com.au or phone 0262752700.

QL2 Dance (Canberra) is celebrating  20 years of the Quantum Leap ensemble project with Two Zero. It was formed in 1999 when the then director of The Choreographic Centre, Mark Gordon, brought Ruth Osborne - whose achievements included establishing the Choreographic Dance Centre in Perth and teaching at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts - to Canberra.

QL2's <i>Two Zero</i> in rehearsal

QL2's Two Zero in rehearsalCredit:Lorna Sim

Osborne, the artistic director of what is now QL Dance,  says, "I was initially brought over from Perth to establish a youth dance program in The Choreographic Centre ...It grew quickly becauese there was so much interest and so much talent in Canberra."

Over time the organisation changed its name to QL2 Centre for Youth Dance and later QL2 Dance, focusing all its attention on young people. The dancers audition annually to work on a project with some remaining for more than one year and others going off to study at tertiary institutions.

To mark two decades of the dance group for people aged from 13 to 20, 27 auditioned dancers have spent the past six months rehearsing a collection of four new works and three reworked older pieces  by eight choreographers, four of whom are QL2 alumni (Eliza Sanders, Steve Gow, Dean Cross, Sara Black and Daniel Riley) and three of whom are associate artists (Alison Plevey, Jodie Farrugia and Fiona Malone)  as well as Osborne.

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"In responding to the 20 years, I wanted to look to the past and the future and not just have old works," Osborne says.

Three new works will be choreographed by Black, Gow and Sanders and two pieces will be remounted by choreographers Cross,  Plevey,  Farrugia and Riley from past performances (2011 and 2013). There's also a reimagined past performance piece from 2006 (Osborne and Plevey) and a new work from Osborne.

The program begins with Hit the Floor Together (2013) - Where We Gather - Remount, choreographed by Riley and remounted by Cross overseen by Riley - who now works for Bangarra Dance Company - in its latter stages. There's an introductory film of the 2013 Quantum Leap ensemble and the work explores Indigenous and non-Indigenous young people working together.

It ends with Celebrate!, Osborne's new piece paying tribute to all the dancers, choreographers, composers, filmmakers, dramaturgs, costume designers and lighting designers who have worked with the company over the past 20 years.

Osborne says, "There will be about 27 alumni at each performance who will join in the finale. Some people are still in Canberra, others are travelling from Melbourne, Adelaide, Sydney and Brisbane."

One is even coming from Scotland, although the timing was a fortunate coincidence.

QL2 general manager Mary Kendall says at the opening night on Thursday there will be speeches by QL2 Dance Board chairman the Honourable Richard Refshauge, the company's new patron, Sydney Dance Company artistic director Rafael Bonachela, artsACT director Sam Tyler and Osborne.