As an independent dancer and choreographer, Tobiah Booth-Remmers has felt the impact of COVID-19 with no travel and limited performance opportunities but he remains upbeat and far from idle.
Instead of travelling, first to Queensland and then to Mexico, he has used the time to refocus on the local industry, including creating a new dance work and reviving some previous projects.
Most recently, he has been part of Dance Lanchpad, a new program established by The Mill and Helpmann Academy to help emerging artists gain experience working with local choreographers and directors.
Tobiah was one of three choreographers commissioned to create new work with AC Arts graduate Jazz Hriskin, who completed the Bachelor of Creative Arts (Dance) with TAFE SA and Flinders University in 2019.
“I’d worked with Jazz at AC Arts at the beginning of 2018 and it was good to see how she had developed her skills. It was a relaxed process where we also chatted about the industry,” he says.
“It’s interesting, since COVID-19, I’ve had a real shift in focus to work more locally.”
Tobiah has also created a dance work with Sophie Stutt at Australian Dance Theatre and refined another solo piece, Damaged Goods, which he developed with theatre director Jo Stone.
“I have three recent solo works and at some point it would be great to see them presented together,” he says.
Tobiah has been creating original work since graduating from TAFE SA’s Dance program in 2009.
“When I first came out of AC Arts, I ran my own collective and I remember feeling really satisfied when I produced a show. I chase that feeling, it’s fulfilling and that’s why I produce work for myself,” he says.
An early influence was choreographer Gabrielle Nankivell whose way of training and developing work “was more around people and characters and the emotion of the work”.
Tobiah says he’s interested in exploring themes of humanity and human interaction, looking at how people function and how they work with each other, through his dance practice.
He’s built a successful freelance career, incorporating choreography and teaching, that regularly takes him interstate and overseas.
“What’s great about freelancing is that I’ve worked with lots of people across theatre and dance and I’ve worked overseas and taught, so I’ve experienced a lot of things and had a lot of influences, which has allowed me to build a practice and a style that’s my own,” he says.
One of his favourite local projects to date is the 2018 tour of Memorial with Brink Productions, while living and working overseas is also an “amazing” career highlight.
“Last year I was overseas teaching in Europe and a friend arranged for me to teach some workshops in Paris and I remember thinking, ’Wow, I didn’t expect that I would be teaching in Paris one day’,” Tobiah says.
His advice to aspiring dancers is to apply for the Bachelor of Creative Arts (Dance) program and turn up with a strong work ethic.
“Whether you’re following a dream or stressing about your technique, you can do it. It always comes down to how much you work,” he says.
Live auditions for the 2021 BCA Dance course are being held on 25 September, 16 October and 16 November. Video auditions can be submitted until 25 November.
For more information, visit AC Arts on the website.