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August 11, 2011 / Siobhan Argent

Adam Wheeler, It Sounds Silly


Published August 2011 at Beat

If you ever want to meet girls, you might want to look into a dancing career. It was in the nineties, when Adam Wheeler, Choreographer and Artistic Director of It Sounds Silly, realised there was an added benefit to his choice of career. “Tasmania in the nineties, it was a challenge.” He says. “To think about going to a dance class…I was the only guy with 29 girls. I was like “this is fantastic!”’

It Sounds Silly is a dance work devised and primarily choreographed by the 2nd Toe Dance Collective in conjunction with a selection of young Australian dancers. As an exploration of early childhood events, Wheeler says it aims to remind people of a time before mortgages, loans and the general chaos of being an adult. “The main objective for the audience, for me, is to remember that innocence and that imagination that we had when we were kids.”

When he references a quote, I decide to look it up. Turns out it’s from Bryan White, a country music singer. “We never really grow up, we just learn how to act in public.” It’s an idea that forms the basis of Wheeler’s inspiration while creating a show with a title that is so distinctly drawn from the idea of childhood.

“The name came from one of the kids actually.” Wheeler explains. “When we started interviewing them about stories, they kept saying ‘It sounds silly now…’ and I went ‘That’s it! That’s what [the show] is called.’ It was one of those organic titles, rather than too contrived.”

The concept for It Sounds Silly evolved from another youth-dance project Wheeler coordinated with Tasmanian dance company Stompin’, which addressed the positive aspects of young people and cars.

“Generally we think of young people and cars, [we think of] hoons, P-plates, speeding, car accidents, drink driving,” Wheeler says. “That’s all super-relevant and it’s important we address it…But there’s also a flipside about what it means to turn seventeen and get your license, go on road trips and connect with friends and with society…the social concept of young people and cars is this negative vibe.”

It’s hard to doubt Wheeler’s enthusiasm. There’s plenty of upbeat talk about the potential of young Australians, particularly in the dance scene he knows so well. It wasn’t so easy in the nineties, when Wheeler was growing up in Launceston and a friend recommended he check out Stompin’ for himself.

“When I was eighteen…I studied a dance class subject to support my drama [class]. I wanted to be an actor. It was recommended that I start doing some dancing, and then when I got into the studio… I didn’t go for a couple of weeks because I was scared about going to a dance studio…after that first session [I realised] this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.”

Dancing was, apparently, in Wheeler’s blood his whole life without him even being aware of it. The realisation only dawned on him when he looked back on videos from his childhood.

“It’s something about the physicality of [dance] as well, the expression, that I really got into, which I don’t feel like I was getting from my acting work. But it’s funny; now I look at videos of when I was really young and I’m dancing and everything. There were so many school shows and concerts.”

It’s hard not to get all warm and fuzzy, though, when Wheeler sums up his aims for It Sounds Silly. “I think that imagination that we have when we’re kids, we essentially lose [it] when we’re trying to get into the real world and have real things to deal with like buying houses and getting married. But that imagination is the essence of life and living. So I’m hoping that after people see the show they’ll go and have a coffee…and remember those quirky things [about] how the world worked when they were young.”

It Sounds Silly is a free event hosted by youth arts studio SIGNAL, near Flinders Street Station. Performances will begin at 6.30pm and 8pm on 19 and 20 August, with a performance on Sunday in the event of rain. See the Chunky Move website for more details.

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