Flaunt 2.0  Redevelopment 2016

FLAUNT 2.0  Redevelopment in 2016photo by Mark Greenmantle

It had been a little over a year since Flaunt had its first season at the Brisbane Powerhouse. During that year there was so much planning in motion for a Queensland tour of Flaunt. My producer Jo Thomas at Metro Arts had been working hard to generate interest in the work. Why should people not be interested? It’s because contemporary dance is a hard sell to venues. A Kenny Logins tribute act (or something along those lines) is much easier to sell to audiences. It depends on the location,audience demographic, and how much audience development has been done.

We had the interest from Cairns, Toowoomba and Ipswich, but we would need to do a remounted season in Brisbane which Jo Thomas lined up to be at Metro Arts. If Flaunt had already received Arts Queensland funding, it would have been harder to get this tour up because Arts Qld only invest in a project once, and not a subsequent development of a work. Anyway, in late December 2015, I had confirmation that Flaunt would have a remount and a small Queensland tour.

I’d only ever toured once before. That was SlowDive and we took that show to The Arts Centre Gold Coast and to the Cairns Festival. Dance companies tour work frequently, but as an independent artist it’s a very big deal to tour work, and I was very excited.

Creatively, I had the voice of dramaturg David Fenton ticking away in my head from last time we worked together and there was aspects of the work I wanted to expand on further. Furthermore, when you edit you own show footage, it’s a great chance for creative reflection on the work. I’d edited Flaunt 1.0 and changes to that were at the front of my mind. How I envisaged the re-developed Flaunt 2.0 was very different to the 2014 Brisbane Powerhouse show.

The programme notes said it best:

Flaunt is about women’s gender, power, sexuality and projection of themselves.

Flaunt examines what women project, publish and promote about themselves over some pivotal red letter dates over the last century.

In each time-period, I examined what was happening historically for women as well as how they were projecting themselves, or being projected. The changes for women over the past 120 years have been significant, but are we there yet? Or are the current times of social media where women are socially conditioned to police each other’s ‘acceptable’ images a step back in time for women.

Background of the idea: While researching my family history I became interested in the lives of women at particular times in history. I found a photograph of an ancestor who was an entertainer – frequently photographed and often in the newspapers in the 1920s. It was strange to see a photograph of this woman who looked so familiar. The image depicted so much about her.

Simultaneously, some young people I knew were beginning to use social media to post photos of their bodies in various states of undress. I questioned the virtual identities that young women project and how they are often extreme and paradoxical. “Who is this for, to publish yourself in this manner? Do we post for ourselves or to compete with other women? Do we progressively become ‘monstrous versions’ of ourselves online?” I wondered what people in the future might think of these images and what they say about women today. I wondered what the women of the past might also think. I thought about the concept of a body frozen in time, brought back to life and dissected for investigation throughout history.

I wondered, “What might the body might say?”

Above three photos by FenLan Photography

TEAM:Rather than work with four dancers as I did in Flaunt 1.0, I thought it would be wiser to invest in some technical people, so we recruited Frances Hannaway (set designer and Production manager) and Mechanist (and Flaunt Technical Manager) Matt Staples on tour. Matt was head of Staging at the Brisbane Powerhouse at the time, and we were thankful that the Powerhouse let him take the time off work. Because there was a lot of safety risks associated with Flaunt, it was important that the set was constructed by people who knew what they were doing. In each location we had helped to build the set during bump in under the guidance of Fran and Matt.

CAST: I was feeling more clear about the direction of the new work and I had David Fenton’s mapping formulas in my head as a starting point. However, I had one small problem: of the cast of four from the first season, I only had one original member available: Amelia Stokes (who at the time was the youngest/ newbie/ still getting the “Claire Marshall movement vocabularies/ style” on her body). Marianna was pregnant, Kirri had just had foot surgery, Miranda was in her final year of studying physiotherapy. I was incredibly lucky to be recommended two amazing dancers who came on board for Flaunt 2.0.


Courtney Scheu, (center) who was about 25 and had been establishing a name for herself in Brisbane as a performer and independent artist/ choreographer.

Essie Horn, (left) who grew up in Brisbane but studied at WAAPA (as did Amelia Stokes). Essie was the youngest of the team as a recent university graduate.

Amelia Stokes (right) was no longer the youngest of the group and over the year and a quarter between Flaunt 1 and 2 had been busy on a lot of independent projects. She’s also become what we described as a total machine and had the Claire Marshall movement vocab on her body so well. It was so great to work with this new team.

REHEARSAL TIME: Taking on working with two new dancers would see a longer rehearsal time frame. Working with the original cast would have been faster because they would have remembered the choreography, and have the style on their bodies. In contrast, a new cast would have a lot of material to learn, which takes time. They would also need to pick up the Claire Marshal style too. The solution was an extended time frame for rehearsals, and I used Mill Street Studios for much of the re-development.

I’d just signed the lease of another space right beside the two studio spaces at Mill Street, so I was able to move the dance school classes around and claim a large studio for Flaunt and really immerse myself in the development of the work.

PRE-PRODUCTION: Digging out the set. The Flaunt Set had been living down in a shipping container for a year. Fran and Matt and the team retrieved that and assembled that at Mill Street Studios.

THE SET CHANGES: The additional rehearsal time meant we had a few extra days to just set up the set (or the titan as we called it). The creative process of working with Matt and Fran was collaborative in the second development too. For example, there had been discussions about being able to have more than one dancer at the top of the set. Previously, without any additional bracing we were only permitted one dancer. Fran and Matt had a play with some additional bracing of the set and I decided that this would be something really exciting to work with choreographically. So we very quickly had some steel bracing custom made. We didn’t need the ladder anymore, but handles were attached:

Time and care was taken for all the spaces we worked in. Matt made wooden pieces to support the set on the soft tarkette and wooden dance floor beneath it.

Below: the dancers excited to have the aditional steel bracing on the set.Working at Mill Street was such a great time. There was no time limitations on when we could be rehearsing or working on the set.Fran and Matt also had to find more tarkette (we had seven layers in the show) and work out how these could be rolled and re-set easily.The dancers learned too. Our pre-show set up of the rolls of tarkette would take about an hour as there was items of clothing that were revealed and some items of clothing ended up in the roll of tarkette. We had to retrieve these items of clothing at the end of the show to ensure they were washed and then reset for the following day.

REHEARSALS: We rehearsed at Mill Street Studios for two weeks commencing on the 22nd of March. During this time I developed a lot of new material and scrapped a lot from the first development. I pieced together the work in a time line in Final Cut Pro. It was easier to visualise this way. David Fenton and Fran and Matt would come in to watch rehearsals. David Fenton and I would discuss the work, my intention, and the creation of meaning in it. He would ask me questions and challenge me, and I’d come back the next day with a clearer mind about what I was making. Below: Lighting designer Michael Richardson attends a rehearsal with Fran and Matt.

Costuming was more elaborate for Flaunt 2.0. We had to find costumes representing the 1890’s, 1950’s, 1970’s, 1980, current times, as well as futuristic (just slightly). The 1980’s era was a last minute addition to the work. To be honest, I thought that including the 1980’s might be over doing it. However, it was important to the narrative and the women. The 1980’s section saw the dancers in power-jackets and the set was used as a representation of the glass ceiling. I used a snippet of Yazoo’s “Don’t Go” in part of this section. It turned out to be one of the really important parts of the work, connecting to the “fax” section, and the computer generated “Why don’t you love me” section.

Due to the 1980’s section being added quite late, Frances Hannaway had to go on a quick expedition of op-shops for some 80’s grey power suit jackets for costumes. I sent her some reference footage from a book I own called Fashion, Excess and the 80’s.  Matt Stapes had to try to source some really boring corporate looking vinyl for the set. I think they did a great job.

Reconnaissance (reckie) visit at Metro Arts (where the season would open):
Production meeting at https://www.facebook.com/metroartsbrisbane and a sticky beak imagining the set at the Sue Benner Theatre. Charles Wiles was also present. Charles programmed Flaunt in Cairns, as well as SlowDive for the Cairns Festival. Charles has an incredible background as a lighting designer for Sydney Dance company, but then heading the COCA (Centre of Contemporary Arts Cairns) and his work with audience development for dance saw Flaunt have two sold out shows there. We made the local news, and newspaper. But that is just testament to Charles’ commitment to the arts and to dance.  It was great to catch up with him in Brisbane at our reckie at Metro arts.

Here’s some photo of our reckie to Metro Arts. I had a work presented at Metro Arts back in 2006 as a part of the Brisbane Fringe Festival.  It was so nice to be back.

Metro Arts has a very interesting history. You can read about this here: https://www.metroarts.com.au/history/

Bump Out of Mill Street Studios and into the Sue Benner Theatre at Metro Arts: After two weeks of rehearsal at Mill Street Studios, we de-assembled the set, packed it onto the truck and bumped into the Sue Benner Theatre. We had help from family and friends, and Frances Hannaway’s family were such a great help with bump out.

Sue Benner Theatre: Bump in 4th April 2016.

In terms of the space at the Sue Benner theatre, the height of the space was a concern due to the height of the set. But I liked seeing the set in a smaller space. It gave the set more power compared to being on a larger stage or performance space.

The truck would be able to just fit down the lane way for bump in. All was going to be ok. Even the festival in the lane way had agreed to be quite during our Saturday evening show.Rehearsals Continued at Sue Benner Theatre, Metro Arts. We were refining the work/ culling sections/ adding details. Dramaturg David Fenton worked now with the dancers in developing their characterisation and performance. Set designer and production manager Frances Hannaway’s background in dance came in handy one day when I was held up trying to finish the soundtrack. Fran jumped in and cleaned a section of the choreography. We were all multi-tasking. Even the dancers helped with the pre-show set up. My producer Jo Thomas is also an actor and was very understanding of how stretched artists become in the lead up to a show. Jo would drop into rehearsals and see how we were going and orgnaise times for interviews and press without stress.
Below: photo of a full run in costume.


I probably should mention a bit more about the work and the inspiration in version 2.0. My brother Grant and his partner Jane had been renovating their apartment. They stripped back the 1990’s carpet and found 1980’s Lino, under that was 1970’s tiles, and under those was late 1960’s tiles. There were probably someone’s memories attached to those surfaces in time, and I thought that for Flaunt, as we travel over time, that the tarkette floors could also be wound back to revel another layer. There were costume changes too. I set a rule that every era had to have the following:

  • be a significant era in time for women in some way
  • include a popular piece of music of the time as a featured moment
  • have some costume referencing the era
  • have a movement trait that was specific to the era layered into the choreography
  • have a technical aspect of the work reflecting the era (i.e. Mirror ball in the 1970s)
  • have another layer of tarkette
  • have the spoken text relevantly woven in
  • have the tarkette rolled by the same dancer but in different ways appropriate to the era
  • have the dancers interact with the set “structure” in different ways
  • what was the dancer’s relationship with the set or the “structure” in every era visited in the work?
  • the dancers understand the relationship between themselves in ever era
  • what is she projecting/ publishing/ promoting of herself in the time?
  • what is her Power struggle in this scene

My creative process (under the guidance of David Fenton) became a massive chart/ document, but it gave the work more clarity. 

In a nut shell: I thought I would include a few photos of the surfaces/ tarkettes/ states.

The white tarkette was preset already. This was for the futuristic state where the body is unravelled and examined. (Photos are by FenLan http://www.fenlan.com.au)

Then we had a time travel interlude with stobing lights and sounds suggesting time travel backwards in time. The trio wove in motifs seen over the piece ahead, but performed retrograded (going in reverse).

We land with a thud in in the 1890’s. This was the 1890’s section, with the lino made to resemble floor boards (warm lighting helped) and costuming with heavy long skirts. I also had some Victorian jackets, but in the end they were not necessary and the restrictive heavy skirts were ample. The set was an unclimbable structure as the dancers kept falling to the ground in every attempt to climb it.Finding a popular tune from this era was a little difficult and popular music in the 1800’s was interesting to research. My rule was that all “popular” song snippets had to be by female artists.
The lino is rolled back again to reveal black and white check lino which leads into the 1950’s post-war section. Rather than looking at the idea of women entering the workfore during the war, the focus was on women who had to go back to their household/ housewife roles after the war. Ideas around training little girls to be doll-like and learned feminine behaviour was seen here. I used a snippet of Lesley Gore’s “You don’t own me”.From the 1950’s to the 1970s, we used this luscious green Italian tarkette and vintage frocks.
I referenced the sexual revoution and juxtaposed this with the 6 o’cock swill which was a slang term for the 6pm rush for last drinks before public bars closed (Men permited only) and the culture of heavy drinking among men. In between all of the more contemporary sounds and atmosphere in the score, I used Donna Summer’s “Love to Love You Baby” in one part of this section.  The Set (structure) represented the character’s missing husbands and essentially patriarchy in this section.For the 1980 section, Matt found some atrocious grey vinly from the late 1980’s. Unlike the luscious green tarkette, it was quite brittle and plastic. In a yin-yang flip to the 1890s section, the dancers were suited up in power jackets rather than skirts. Furthermore, they were able to climb the structure which represented the idea of the glass ceiling.  Again, showing the struggle for women, we looked at the flip side and human side of the stuggle and costs to get to the top (so to speak). I wove in a section of Yazoo’s “Don’t Go” and might have incoporated some of my favourite 1980’s shoulder moves.
Current times: looking a current times to make comment is easy when there’s social media, and I looked at the instant gratification of social media. The self-obsessed “selfie” era was referenced with the use of mylar on the floor (as a mirror to be constantly looking into) and the structure was essentially as a platform for the dancers to promte themselves. I went with a trashy night club track and trashy attire as Meryl, Cheryl, and Beryl trapsed around overly sexualised movements informed by images on social media.
The top of the set was also used more in Flaunt version 2.0. It was used often to show more depth to the charachters, or another side in terms of what we saw from them below.

The all-consuming self-obssession builded to the climax of the work. Death by the refelctive mylar.Following this was a reprise of the time travel trio, but in a forward direction.
The final layer (in terms of a surface) is was the clear vinyl that the dancer was wrapped in at the beginng (in the future). The scientists essentially wrap her up and put her back on the slab/ lab side.

The Flaunt v2.0 season at Metro Arts ran from Wednesday the 13th of April 2016 to Saturday the 16th of April 2016.

We had some good press in the lead up to the season:
We had positive reviews:

And here:


BUMP OUT OF METRO ARTS: We took a cast and crew photo and bumped out of Metro Arts on the Saturday evening.
“Lucky we’ve got a Titan”

Felicity from The Centre of Contemporary Arts Cairns (CoCA) was on board as lighting operator for Flaunt and drove the truck back up to Cairns ready for the season in Cairns.
I felt so happy that I was able to remount Flaunt, and was very excited that it was going on tour.
Below: A few more photos by FenLan




On Friday the 24th of January, Mill Street Studios was officially opened. Guests included members of the community, friends, family, industry and students and parents of the new DANCE4300 school of dance. I was particularly delighted that Councilor of Goodna, Paul Tully came along.



I took guests on a guided tour of the space as I explained my intended use for the various spaces and showed guest the results of the eight weeks of renovations and refurbishments undertaken! I explained my intentions for the use of the different spaces, as well as the flexibility of the spaces.



The audience was lead into the black studio space where two demonstrations occurred, showing the space in performance mode and studio mode. I spoke about how I planned for the space to be used… and made a few notoriously bad visual jokes.


The first demonstration (photo below) was a ballet demonstration by dance students Anastasia Lonsdale, Imogen Crowell and Clare Cannons and saw the curtains opened, rostra moved, and rehearsal lights turned on – showing how the space is used in the context of a dance class.


The second demonstration (photo below) was a short snippet of a solo performed by Frances Hannaway – showing  the space in performance mode (for small scale showings of work). I used some rostra (from one of my shows), lights, and closed the curtains. Thanks to Christine Johnstone who snapped the above and below photo on her phone.

black space performance mode



Mill Street Studios is my new base where I will rehearse for my own projects, rather than hiring other spaces. So in the white space was a demonstration of a rehearsal – I picked something recent from a new project of mine, called Ward of State. Of course costumes were required :)

Sarah Fitzgerald and Hope Wilson (10 years) demonstrated a section of choreography from a scene and I spoke about using the space for my own projects.




Retro themed food and drinks were served:



And an amazing Mill Street Studios inspired cake was made by Cassy Lee:




I want the space to reflect that it welcomes dancers of all ages and stages so Frances Hannaway selected photographs of my choreography from shows, dance films, music video choreography, youth works, and student works to put up around the space.

Many of the photographs displayed at Mill Street Studios have been taken of my work over the years by dance photographer FenLan who photographed the launch.


I was happy to have the space officially opened after eight weeks of renovations and revamping the space. Here’s a few more of FenLan’s images from the Mill Street Studios Launch :)












The next challenge was getting the space operating on daily basis, setting up the school, hiring out the space, and putting the space to use!!!


MILL STREET STUDIOS – an idea to hard yakka renovations


Mill Street Studios is an exciting new dance space I opened on the 24th of January Mill Street, Goodna. Goodna is smack bang between Brisbane and Ipswich, and a few minutes walk from from the Goodna train station.

Mill Street Studios – How it happened?

Mill Street Studios came about very quickly in December last year. It wasn’t something I was planning to do, but in short, Mill Street Studios came about because:

1. I was at the right place at the right time.

2. I saw the potential in the situation, potential in the space, and

3. I had an existing long-standing connection with the local dance community.

Below: the white space at the end of renovations.


I had always imagined how great it would be to have my own space, but as an independent artist it’s not really financially viable. I was aware that I’d needed to work out a long-term solution to making my practice more sustainable, particularly because of my increased focused on making high quality projects, rather than ‘commercial’ freelance work.

My independent projects require a significant financial commitment. Even when I’ve been fortunate enough to have support in the form of funding, private investment, or fund raising, I usually don’t pay myself. I try to make ever dollar stretch as far as it can.

Commercial jobs such as choreography and movement coaching for TV commercials, music videos and workshops have funded a large part of my projects, and a lot of money has been spent on hiring venues and rehearsal spaces. Ausdance Qld has greatly improved this situation by subsidising spaces, but there is a limited number of spaces, and timing can often be a problem.

For example, rehearsals for my dance film Ward of State were held in seven different locations, and one venue cost more than $100 per hour to hire.


Why was Mill Street Studios established?

There was demand – I had taught at the previous dance school that existed in the space for a few years and had built a great relationship with the students. However, in November the studio principal announced that she was closing the school. A few students and their parents asked if I’d consider taking over the school. Initially, I didn’t think it was the right idea. Teaching is a big responsibility and although teaching is something I enjoy, I wasn’t prepared to give up my practice as a choreographer to take on the role of a full-time dance studio principal – teaching every class. That said, I had a very strong desire to continue teaching and remain connected to the students.

I needed rehearsal space – In October I started looking for rehearsal space for my work SlowDive, which was performed at the Australian Preforming Arts Market (APAM) in February 2014. Most spaces were very expensive and could not accommodate the props  and large set pieces used in the show.

I needed storage space – After 15 years, one acquires a lot of props. Four years of storage space hire for SlowDive cost more than the funding I had to make the work. It’s something no one thinks about when they submit a funding application. Unlike most independent artists, a company usually has a base and some storage space. Transport costs can also be significant. Mill Street Studios provided the much needed rehearsal space and an on-site shipping container meets most of my storage needs for just $2.20 a day!

Light bulb moment- About a week after the announcement of the closer of the school in November,  I had the ‘light bulb’ moment. Maybe I could lease the space for my own projects and continue to run the dance school – leading it, rather than teaching all the dance classes. I could re-shape the school and apply my industry experience in terms of the content and context of learning, and select a diverse team of high-quality teachers to teach a variety of dance styles.

It was a matter of putting two and two together: a space for rehearsing my own projects and the business partnership potential of managing the school. It was the perfect combination!


OUTCOME:  After a few busy months of renovations, and planning, and setting up all things business related, Mill Street Studios became home to the following:

Claire Marshall Projects – Mill Street Studios is my new base as a freelance choreographer and independent artist.

Test Pressing –is a new youth dance project group for 18-30 year olds, with a focus on projects that engage the local community.

DANCE 4300 – DANCE 4300 is an exciting new school of dance that resides at Mill Street Studios under my direction with specially handpicked teachers & staff.

More info about the above later, this post is about the realisation of the idea to renovating the space.



With lots of help from family and friends, Mill Street Studios was renovated between December 2013 and January 2014.  It was important to re-brand the space and make it my own.

Here’s some photos of the journey of the renovations.

December 2013:

studio 2

Sanding the floors. The floors were already in existence, and had been rebuit after the 2011 floods. But they were in need of a sanding and repairs. I recruited the help of “Robert Floor Sander” to help. Robert and his team (of family helpers) did a terrific job.


If the floors needed sanding, then why not paint them before the top coat? There’s only a few colours in my vocabulary. So black it was! The only problem is that you can’t buy black floor paint in Australia. There’s a UK brand, that can’t be imported. I tried staining the wood initially, but it wasn’t black enough.


Determined to find a solution, it was suggested that I use an exterior paint. And it looked spectacular with the semi-sheen!


There was just one problem: It didn’t dry! The paint remained tacky for over a week. Time was limited with a deadline to open the space in January.  But it was back to square one.


Sanding the second time took a lot longer than the first time… because the floor was essentially still damp.  The dramas with the floor meant getting a different sort of exterior paint and starting from scratch. It meant missing out on my brother’s new years eve party and spending the time at Mill Street Studios painting. This time using a different brand of paint and using a low sheen exterior decking paint. I made sure I did thing properly – which meant starting at the edges of each panel of wood. Happy New Year indeed!

floor attempt 2

Recruiting more help (thanks Fran & Will), once the floor was painted, we undercoated the walls. Hospital Grey undercoat wasn’t exactly inspiring. I couldn’t wait to see them painted black!


And black it was!


The last thing was the top coat on the floor which made it look shiny. I was so happy with the result that I wanted to hug the floor. So i did. Nice floor.



Simon Cook rigged my lights that had been sitting in storage. He did a spectacular job!


The intention with the black space was that is could be used for small scale showings and performances as well as for regular classes and rehearsal. At the launch, a demonstration of how the space could be adapted was shown.

Here’s some of the other spaces at Mill Street Studios:

The White space before re-vampifications commenced (December 2013)


A freshly painted floor:


Like the black space, there were issues with the white space: the floor yellowed, and unfortunately it needed to be re-sanded and painted with a non-yellowing top coat. This was a massive set back, but we powered on and had both spaces ready just in time for the launch.

DSC_3057 IMG_7606

The checkered space:

The Checkered space wasn’t always a checkered space. It was once a green space. I quite like green, but green is just not black ;-):



The Kitchen:

In its former days, the kitchen was used as an office.


Whist pretty much everything in Mill Street Studios was formerly a prop or set part from a show, I did lash out and purchase some 2nd hand orange retro chairs for a bargain and recruited some help by Sarah and Cassy to restore them.


I should also mention that whist all the floor sanding, painting, re-sanding, re-painting was occurring, in my realisation that time was slipping behind, I needed to call in some additional help – the big guns of renovators: my parents! My Mum and Dad are DIY renovating legends. I have to say that I was well trained in the ways of renovating – I remember spending time in the school holidays helping with renovations at home. I enjoyed it, and I learnt so much from my clever parents. I have to admit that my Mum and Dad originally agreed to help in the garden, but got roped into helping with lots of other things and were spending almost every day at Mill Street Studios to help get it finished.

Here’s outside before they started work:


My Dad and brother helped build the screen and Mum and Dad panted a lovely selection of plants.


I had initially wanted to put astro turf inside, but it seemed to suit outdoors.

Reception area:


Mill Street studios requires the time and skills of some business minded people.  I was fortunate to be connected with Kerri who is a huge part of Mill Street studios and the operations of the school there. The reception area is important as it’s the first point of contact with visitors. So I wanted to make it look special.

Another thing I remember helping my Mum and Dad with was wall papering. Feeling confident about knowing how to do this , I recruited the help for Fran and Will with the wall paper. The chandelier was a prop from a show called Video Set that I created in 2011. Good to see it being put to use :)



Upstairs: I think that upstairs was formerly used for storage. A good idea, but i needed somewhere for office space.


The floors were sanded and painted by Mr Robert Floor Sander.


More of my lights that were previously in storage were put to use by Simon Cook. Not bad for an office!



During the 8 week renovation time frame I was spending between 16 – 18 hour days at Mill Street Studios. Various people would show up to work on certain aspects of the renovations at certain times. On a low DIY budget, most of the work was done by family and friends, with only a few ‘trade’ jobs  required. At about 5am on the 24th of January I finished painting the foyer floor, and hoped it would be dry in time for the launch that night.