I promise I’ll be interviewing some more diverse “Jobs” soon, however this was just too amazing to pass up! Pineapple Productions have been selected to perform during the Auckland Fringe Festival 2013 at the Q Theatre for four dates running from the 20th-23rd February 2013. Crowd-funding is an exciting medium to participate interactively so you can be hands-on an support an interactive show!! I interviewed them to find out what is involved with being a Dance company and get the D-L on what they’re working on right now…!
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What is a normal day “at work” at Pineapple Productions look like?
Pineapple is actually 13 people: 9 multitasking dancers and 4 talented dedicated friends. Since we all have different jobs outside of Pineapple and different timetables, it would be more “what is a normal week at work”?
On the dancing side we have 4 regular practices per week. Tuesday evening is for French Cancan and Saturday afternoon is for Contemporary and Jazz. We use Thursday evenings and Sunday afternoon to work on specific shows and all the other styles like cabaret, Charleston, chair, burlesque, etc.
Plus dancers have to take as many dance classes as they can during the week in any style they want. Since we all come from really different backgrounds and training, those classes include Ballet, Balance & Alignment, Belly Dance, Burlesque, Broadway, Charleston, Contemporary, DanceFit Chair, French Cancan, Hip Hop, Horton Technique, Jazz, Pilates, Tap…!
On the admin side we do with our dancers skills and resources, mostly…
Geraldine, our producer, is always in close contact with our clients, preparing contracts, setting up meetings, etc. She organizes the newsletter and all our marketing material. Her “other” job being AV producer and editor, she is also in charge of the company video/photo archives and cutting all our promo video material.
As the choreographer/director I work in the studio on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday mornings to prepare the choreographies, choose the music, etc. I am also in charge of the dancers practice schedule. And on Wednesday I usually go over Pineapple accounts and update the website.
To help us, we have also Ling who is in charge of Pineapple branding and Nicole who is going over the wording of promo material and assists us when she can. We have a costume team who works under costumier Coco Columbine and wardrobe mistress Delphine. And a tech team with audio engineer Matt and our two video directors Bertrand and Nicolas.
And, outside of the studio and meetings we all stay in contact all week long via emails and that awesome tool that is Google Drive.
How did you get started in the industry and what made you decide this is what you wanted to make a living out of?
I danced all my life. When I was 7, I said I would dance on Broadway. And when I was 13, I choreographed my first piece and decided this is what I wanted to do. Being from a practical and scientific family that doesn’t know anything about entertainment careers, I never really thought I would actually end up doing it. So while keeping the idea in the back of my head I just followed the normal study path. I always did both in parallel. I thought as long as I would keep studying “normal subjects” at school and uni then nobody would bother me with my dancing obsession. And then after 4 years of studying an English diploma at the same time as Performing arts at Uni I realized that was silly and I’d rather focus on the one thing that I really wanted to do. So I dived in!
But that’s for me. But as I said earlier, the dancers in Pineapple come from different backgrounds and even countries (France, Argentina, Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand), so we all have a different story. That’s what actually makes our company interesting…
What tips would you give others who might be interested in a similar career?
I guess the most important for me is to accept your choice. It is YOUR choice to be in that industry, nobody forced you to. So you have to accept some of the consequences like not having weekends any more, having to train and/or take classes when you are already really tired. I often hear people who say they want to become professional dancers and they complain if they have more than 2 practices a week. You need to make concessions and they are actually a really small price to pay to be able to do a job that you love and that is so rewarding in the end.
When did you discover there was life outside the corporate 9-5 Office grind? (Or is it) Was there a specific event or epiphany that brought that about?
I never really saw myself working in the corporate 9-5 Office grind! Even when I had a “normal job” I always organized myself so that it would fit around my dancing and not the other way.
Have you ever struggled to get what you do at work or out of work taken seriously?
Yes of course. For a long time even my parents couldn’t really see my work as really professional, even if I was paid for it. When I quit my last corporate job (web-master for Auckland Uni) to focus completely on the dance industry I had some friends who sent me emails after 2-3 months asking me if I had found another job. And my answer “Well I teach dance and create shows” didn’t seem to really satisfy them. It’s only when I created Pineapple actually that my friends and family started to take me seriously. But it doesn’t mean that everybody else who is not in the industry does. It’s actually a constant struggle; we see that every day with Pineapple. I guess people don’t really understand what dance is…
Your work is very specialized – is this something you’ve learned in an education system or did you fall into it?
I’ve always danced in my living room when I was young and created shows for my parents with my cousins. But I can definitely say that I learned how to dance in an education system. I took my first dance class when I was 7 and kept at it. For the choreography part it’s a bit different. When I was 13 there was a dance competition in my village and I decided to enter by creating a solo myself. And I loved it. And I won the competition! From then on I started taking more notice into the creation part of dancing. I started to create choreographies for my friends and when I was 16 I became the assistant to the artistic director of the company I was in. It’s only at Uni that I started taking classes in choreography and dance direction.
What effect has the Internet had on the way that you work?
With the kind of company we are, Internet is the best tool. We have calendars online with the practice schedule and dancers availabilities. We have a spreadsheet for each choreography where the dancers can check the costume, download the music or even check the steps for practice. We have shared to do lists and promo material banks. It’s so much easier to keep track of everything. And of course it helps to show our work to outsiders using mostly social medias.
What is the biggest, most exciting project you’ve worked on / are most proud of?
It’s hard to name just one! Pineapple is so versatile that we’ve had a lot of completely different and really interesting projects the past year.
With our French cabaret troupe Oh Mes Ananas specializing in French Cancan we are now asked to perform to all the major French events that are happening in Auckland. And we are really proud of that. Being able to showcase French Cancan on Bastille Day on the Breakfast Show was quite priceless.
TVNZ Breakfast Show – Pineapple Productions – French Cancan from Pineapple Productions
And on the other hand we have also gained a good reputation in creating pop flash-mobs (Hallensteins, Glassons) and vintage musical style choreographies for corporate events. On that last note, we were quite pleased to be one of the only troupes to represent a vintage dance style (other than burlesque) at the Very Vintage Day Out.
Flashmob @ Hallenstein Brothers from Pineapple Productions
My Oh My – Charleston on TVNZ Breakfast from Pineapple Productions
But in the end, if I had to choose just one, it would be our new concept show, The Jukebox Dance Show. First because it’s a concept that I wanted to develop for so long. Creating an interactive show that works like a Jukebox where the audience would get to choose what we perform. And then because it allows me to showcase all the different dance styles that I’ve worked on all my life. In the end it’s a show that represents what Pineapple is all about, sharing with our audience our love for any dance styles.
Have you got anything exciting in the pipeline that you would like to share with us?
Well we have the second season of the Jukebox Dance Show coming up next year for the Auckland Fringe Festival. It will be at the Q Theatre running from the 20 to the 23 February 2013. And what is super exciting about it, on top of the concept, is that we will get to perform it for 4 nights. Since it’s a show based on the audience choice, it will be a different show every timewhich is pretty cool I think!
And because Pineapple is still a small and self-funded company we have organized a campaign on PledgeMe you can all help us in producing this second season: https://www.pledgeme.co.nz/618
PledgeMe – Pineapple Jukebox Dance Show from Pineapple Productions
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