For one night only on Sunday April 17, Canberra dance school QL2 Dance (Quantum Leap) in collaboration with the National Youth Dance Company of Scotland presented 10,000 Miles, a contemporary triple bill performance at The Q in Queanbeyan, NSW.

Featuring one choreographed piece each from both dance companies as well as one final combined piece involving all of the dancers, 10,000 Miles highlighted meaningful, future-forward choreography and showcased some of the finest and most talented young dancers both Canberra and Glasgow have to offer.

The first act, ‘Act of Contact’, choreographed by Sara Black, consisted only of Quantum Leap dancers who had successfully auditioned for their place. Around fifteen 18 to 21-year-olds, male and female, explored the themes of touch and messages through the transferral of movement between partners. Along with the bass of increasingly suspenseful music, the performance became more complicated and ended in a pool of pulsating bodies when the dramatic noise reached an intense climax.

The second piece, ‘Maelstrom’, was performed by the National Youth Dance Company of Scotland and was choreographed by their artistic director Anna Kenrick. Beginning with a single beam of light onto a group of dancers wearing seemingly everyday clothes, the piece included flashing lights of squares and rectangles onto an otherwise blacked out dance floor, and disconnected, shaky hugs to represent ‘cyber hugs’ and the complex world of online communication. The stand out of the performance was the dramatic pause in music that allowed the entire group of dancers to yell out quirky facts that got the audience laughing. This was then followed by the first set of music with lyrics, I Love to Love, which was a much-needed song to bring the vibe up a bit.

Finally, the third act of the performance, ‘Landing Patterns’, was a collection of all dancers from both schools to demonstrate patterns of human behaviour. This time wearing dark grey and green plain clothing, the dancers spent the majority transitioning from one side of the stage to the other and disentangling themselves from one another whilst sometimes splitting off into smaller groups of four to each take a turn in the spotlight. This time with a video screened in the background, paint was being splattered to reveal a whole painting and signal the end.

After returning back to reality, the event was wrapped up by a 15 minute Q&A session with all choreographers, artistic directors and dancers assembled on stage.

Led by music composer Adam Ventoura, the Q&A session was an important component of the event that allowed the audience to interact with each of the dancers and form a greater insight into each of the individual companies. As I discovered throughout the discussion, it was when Anna Kenrick and Ruth Osborne, the artistic director of Canberra’s QL2 Dance, met at the Commonwealth Youth Dance Festival in Glasgow in 2014 that the idea of the production came about. However, after several set backs to get the Scot students here to Australia, the production was finally completed two years later.

I’d also learnt that the production of the final piece was the result of an intense week of practice and rehearsals here in Canberra. When asked by one audience member what it was like to work with one another so intimately in such a short amount of time, the dancers from both companies agreed that they felt privileged to have been given the opportunity to dance with such like-minded yet culturally different people.

Ultimately, 10,000 Miles demonstrated surprising similarities between two dance schools that are in fact 10,000 miles, or rather 16,000 kilometres, apart.

It was hard not to believe that the performers were actually from the same dance school, a reflection of how successful and commendable their collaboration was. Their performance was something truly special to behold, proving that dance really is a universal language.

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