Hot Talent Watch | Riley Baldwin’s RB Corp Instruction
Premiere Original Work Explores the Power Struggles of Bee Communities
Interview and article by HM Clements
Riley Baldwin is the founder and artistic director of new contemporary youth dance company RB Corp Instruction based in Brisbane. On September 27, the Company will debut its first original work entitled The Hive at Queensland University of Technology’s Gardens Theatre.
Riley has choreographed this ambitious debut with a cast of more than 50 dancers aged between 9 – 19, representing talented dancers from 23 dance schools stretching from Biloela in Queensland to over the NSW border. He describes the concept of The Hive as a salute to the chain of command within the colonial cycle of sovereignty. From the flight of our bumblebees to the crowning of our Queen, he demonstrates how with natural order comes conflict; how with sweet comes sour.
Despite being a highly trained classical/contemporary dancer, graduating from the New Zealand School of Dance, Riley realised he preferred creating more than being a performer. So he started RB Corp Instruction to channel his ambitions as a choreographer and to give aspiring Queensland dancers an opportunity to participate in a company experience and the opportunity to perform an original work at a high pre-professional level. The company operates collaboratively with the cast in bringing the ides to the choreography. And although only less than a year old, there has been interest for Riley to expand RB Corp Instruction’s intensive workshops to Sydney Melbourne and Hobart.
Passion for dance and for young people’s lives to be creative and confident is the driving force behind Riley and what he has achieved to date. RB Corp. Instruction also stands as proof that knock backs are essential to ascend in life and relaying this to aspiring artists is so necessary as every success story involves rejection at some point.
DanceLife spoke to Riley about his new company and learned that he can’t wait to stun his audience with The Hive in September!
Q: Why did you start your own company – RB Corp Instruction?
This entire project actually resulted from a knock back. In early 2018 I applied for substantial government funding to produce a full-length work with a professional cast under the title of RB Corp, but was declined. My desire to create, however, has lived within me since my childhood. I use to choreograph in my bedroom to music blasting out of CD player and I use to enter local choreographic competitions for the thrill of dancing what I wanted to dance. This infatuation of course became more serious during my time studying at the New Zealand School of Dance. I was so mesmerised by the realisation that everyone has a different interpretation of what contemporary dance is to them no matter the context. From here, I happily shifted my career path to that of a choreographer.
The notion to focus on the youth also came from a personal place. I remembered the sensation of freedom and invigoration creating bestows and realised most kids don’t have this option anymore, either due to the huge shift within the competitive scene or simply due to the fact of never being exposed to it so young.
Young dancers are so eager and passion exudes out of them, and as they’re developing, the more options they have to aid their education the better for the more versatile you are, the more employable you become. Rather than neglecting it I wanted to utilise it. You see it at competitions when dancers bleed artistic brilliance. It pours from their heart, not their mind like technique does. That’s why the most technical doesn’t always win. You’re hypnotised by avidity instead.
I also wanted to create a platform where we can avoid all risk of creative interference and where kids are allowed to express themselves in an environment where there is no mould that needs to be fit. Thats why I added the word ‘Instruction’ to the company’s name – to signify the creative direction implied on my behalf as the Artistic Director.
Q: How did the concept for The Hive originate?
It actually came from a game I played as a child – Bugdom! I enjoyed gaming so much as a kid that I would arrive at primary school before the bell in the mornings to join the roster to play a particular game called Bugdom. There were 10 levels (two of which I believe involved a hive) which you played as a little beetle. Last April I found myself watching gameplay of Bugdom on YouTube and clicked on a suggested side video titled “How does a bee become Queen?” That’s all it took and my instincts knew it would work. Bee societies are so fascinating and have complex power structures. I take this notion and explore the chain of command within the colony and the conflicts that arise in crowning a queen.
Q: What experiences and benefits to the cast get out being in RB Corp?
The Hive itself may technically belong to RBCI, but we can’t do it without the contagious passion from our cast. Therefore, it’s safe to say that this work is just as much theirs as it is ours. This is why we usually refer to RBCI as more of a collective, and we are fully committed to reinforcing this mantra by continuing to invest in the wellbeing of the young lives the Company attracts.
Being our first, The Hive holds so much sentiment for us all. The excitement amongst the many young lives is what is fuelling our need to instil as much professional value into the entirety of this experience for all, as well as for future seasons.
Our aim is to not only present work of the highest creative calibre, but provide memories of the same recollection for these children that impacts their lives forever. To creatively influence them along their way within the industry is beyond gratifying, hence why their choreographic involvement is so imperative and beneficial to both their process and ours.
We wish to educate kids in a way where they don’t feel inadequate as there is huge emphasis on contract-based work being the only form of “making it” within the contemporary dance industry. The social stigma around perfection is overpowering and pressuring kids into being influenced either by end results they see online. They aren’t exposed enough to the imperfections incurred throughout the process, such as the many encountered through a creative one. Choreography is a craft, and they see how it is chiselled.
Performance opportunities of this sort are also incredibly scarce in Queensland. With a strong emphasis on competitions nowadays, creative confidence and knowledge within young dancers is either repressed. Students simply aren’t aware of their creative aptitudes. Competitions are great to experience as some factors certainly do carry through into professional etiquette, but professional life isn’t about winning or even competing. A dancer’s job is to entertain. Through professionally set productions there is a constant evolution, from rehearsal to rehearsal, from concept to concept. Knowledge expands as does awareness and dancers therefore mature into artists and advance their transition from “student” to “professional” more realistically.
Q: What is next for the company moving forward in 2020?
There will definitely be a 2020 season! As the Company is still very young, our second triumph is our next goal with cogs already turning for 2021 and beyond. We wish to establish a few staple works first to ensure a solid platform to propel off further.
As our reputations grows however we would love to form associations with brands and organisations who endorse many youth platforms already, and of course reach new ones.
By doing so, we hope to widen our audiences even further in order to engage with more young talent across Australia. We want to establish our own legacy and wish to encourage as many budding artists out there to join, for the more forces we combine with the more unified we become. We feed off passion, so the more passion we procure, the more exceptional we stand.
THE HIVE by RB Corp Instruction
Friday 27 September 2019 @ 3pm & 6pm
QUT’s Garden’s Theatre