As winter lashes the streets of Perth, dance lovers have been enjoying a purple patch of choreographed pleasure indoors.

The seductive mid-year dance season has included tours by Sydney Dance Company, Chunky Move and Bangarra Dance Theatre, whose 25th anniversary production Patyegarang opens tonight.

Rachel Arianne Ogle and dancers. Picture: Rob Duncan/WAN

Adding to the mix are Perth's own Ochre Contemporary Dance Company and WA Ballet, which opens its comic romp La Fille Mal Gardee early next month.

It all suggests an optimistic future for dance in Perth as the Buzz and Steps youth-dance companies fold into a better-resourced new entity and Strut Dance evolves as a national choreographic centre.

"I think it is as really exciting time in Perth," says independent dancer- choreographer Rachel Arianne Ogle, whose first main-stage show Precipice opens in a few weeks. "It is a really fantastic time to be premiering a work," she says.

"There is a lot of growth and change happening in the arts and certainly a lot of diversity of practice and awareness of what's happening. Dance in particular is developing a profile. It is a really exciting time of change and some really articulate artist voices are starting to emerge."

Ogle embodies the balancing act that many Perth dance artists must maintain to be a success in our remote city.

She may best be described as a local internationalist.

In the 13 years since graduating from WAAPA, Ogle has built a career that radiates out into the elite dance centres of the world while connecting with communities in remote and regional WA.

Her wide-ranging CV includes working with indigenous communities in the Pilbara, Kimberley and Christmas Island, and with DADAA in the field of arts and disability.

A teacher at WAAPA these days, Ogle also has worked with Phillip Adams' BalletLab in Melbourne, Hong Kong's City Contemporary Dance Company, Nigeria's Ijodee Dance Company, the Unfinished Company in the Netherlands and in the 50collective global dance project 50 Days in Costa Rica with renowned dance artist David Zambrano.

"In Perth, it is difficult to maintain full-time employment so you have to diversify into different areas of teaching and performing in lots of different contexts," she says. "I think I have been really blessed in so many ways . . . in seeking out opportunities internationally and maintaining a practice here in Perth developing community relationships.

"They all enlighten my practice and palette of experience in different ways."

Picking up on the idea of cultural diversity and the universal language of dance, Ogle's choreography expresses her belief in the profound power of connecting, with others and the universe at large.

Her training in the martial art of aikido, or "the way of unifying life energy", also reflects this.

All these threads form the fabric of Precipice, a 60-minute dance work based on precarious physicality, risk and tensions of gravity and the other invisible, inter-planetary and sub-atomic forces at play on all things.

Precipice is the culmination of the themes Ogle explored in three shorter works We Are Made of Stardust, Where You End and I Begin and Of Snowflakes and Spacetime.

"Our connection to each other and the universe is ever-present in my choreographic practice and my fascinations," Ogle says.

Her four dancers - Storm Helmore, Niharika Senapati, Tyrone Robinson and Imanuel Dado - will push their bodies to the precipice of toppling over to the pulsating sonic movement of Luke Smiles' score and Benjamin Cisterne's bold lighting design, she says.

"The dancers are taking a lot of risks and playing a lot with being very physical and the audience can expect to have a very immersive and kinaesthetic experience."

"The amount of energy and risk in the dancers' bodies I feel will transmit into the audience and they will be swept up into that action that they will be feeling through their own bodies."

Precipice is at the Studio Underground, State Theatre Centre, from August 21-24.

The West Australian

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