The Beauty Index
The Beauty Index by Annette Carmichael, Photo by Nic Duncan

The Beauty Index

Each month in our newsletter The Sauce we ask a guest to contribute their story. We are very privileged to share Annette Carmichael's story here with you. The magical photos are courtesy of Nic Duncan and Dene Bingham

Little Mick lives in Moora. He always has. Before I met him, his only dance experience was some ballroom dancing classes that he attended with his grandma. Little Mick is 30 years old, an electrician and, in his words, ‘five foot, 20 inches’ tall.  Moora is a remote community in regional Western Australia, population 1800.

To understand my work as a choreographer, you need to meet the people I work with. People like Little Mick.

The Beauty Index by Annette Carmichael
Little Mick and Annette

Little Mick rocked up to the Moora Performing Arts Centre alone, having been dropped off by his wife, Katie, who is expecting their first child. Little Mick had shown up because he’d seen my callout for men to perform in a contemporary dance work called The Beauty Index.

You see, I create contemporary dance performances with everyday people, and The Beauty Index is especially for men.

First created with men from Denmark and Albany in Western Australia, I am now making five new versions in five regional towns: Moora, Harvey, Ravensthorpe, Kalgoorlie and hopefully, Mandurah (if they get the funding).

I first made this work in 2017. I did it because every morning, the news was filled with stories of extreme violence – terrorism, family violence, bar fights. I felt helpless. But then I wondered if I could make a small contribution to this global problem by inviting men in my town, Denmark (Kwoorabup), to create a performance.  Luckily, they said yes and together we made The Beauty Index, a dance that explores fear and terror. But more importantly it shows the struggle to bring about beauty in the world, to hold our humanity and compassion for each other.  Our community got behind us and the show sold out. The following year, it was shortlisted for an Australian dance award, amazing!

Through my dance projects I often challenge gender stereotypes and encourage people to step outside of their comfort zones and become performers. I’m with them every step of the way, and with my team, we train them, provide costumes for them and create intensely meaningful, high-quality performances. 

The Beauty Index by Annette Carmichael
The Beauty Index by Annette Carmichael, Photo by Nic Duncan
But back to Little Mick; really he’s no ordinary man. I was amazed by his incredible grace and how quickly he learned complex choreography. I have no doubt he will be the star of The Beauty Index in Moora.

Despite Little Mick’s obvious talent, he was the only man who showed up in Moora. So Little Mick and his wife, Katie, took myself and Tour Manager, Dr. Carl Heslop, to the pub, on the hunt for more men.

It was a bit like one of those jokes: The giant electrician, the pregnant lady, the choreographer, and the PhD walk into a skimpy bar… 

Suffice to say, our first foray into a Wheatbelt skimpy bar went off without a hitch and with people like Little Mick on our side, we will get the men of WA dancing.

If you’d like to learn more about The Beauty Index, dates and information are on the website. We’re still looking for performers. If you know of any men living in regional WA, send them our way!

The Beauty Index
Annette Carmichael directing photoshoot in Hopetoun with Carl Heslop and Paul Foulds. Photo by Dene Bingham

More Info

Annette is a dance artist and creative producer who specialises in regional cultural development and community engagement.

Annette collaborates with communities to create multi-art performance works that have contemporary dance at their core but also include theatre, writing, music, textiles and installation. Recent works include Solace+Yearning (2012 & 2014), My War? (2015), The Creation of Now (2015, commissioned by Ausdance WA), The Snake Run Project (2016, for Perth Festival and City of Albany), The Beauty Index (2017 for Brave New Works festival), A Light Shade of Red (for centenary of Armistice Day 2018) and Chorus (2020).

Annette provides professional development services to CircuitWest, regional touring network and was Chair of the Curatorial Panel for the 2019 National Dance Forum.  Between 2009 – 2013 Annette was the State’s Regional Contemporary Dance Facilitator for Ausdance WA creating the ‘Future Landings’ model for animating regional communities through dance.

Australian Dance Award (shortlist 2018 & 2012)

Recipient Tasdance Residency by Invitation Only (2016)

West Australian Dance Award (winner 2011, shortlist 2013)

www.annettecarmichael.com.au

The Beauty Index
Annette Carmichael photo Nic Duncan

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