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  • ACCESS ALL AREAS: Movement is a lifelong passion for Cadi McCarthy

ACCESS ALL AREAS: Movement is a lifelong passion for Cadi McCarthy

  • 16 February 2023


There’s no denying that our city is home to a remarkable number of talented creatives - across all artistic mediums. And behind this talented crop of creative minds stands an equally passionate group of Novocastrians dedicated to providing spaces, opportunities, and networks for culture to thrive in Newcastle. And it is in that spirit that we bring you Access All Areas - an editorial series aimed at shining a spotlight on those individuals who love to shine the spotlight on others. 


Asking Cadi McCarthy to pinpoint who or what first ignited her passion for dance might prove problematic.

That’s because she has been immersed in the art form for almost all of her life.

“That’s a really tricky question to answer - I started dancing when I was three,” Cadi explained.

“I’ve also been in the industry for many, many years and before I was in Newcastle, I was in Perth where I was a professional dancer, choreographer and Artistic Director"

Cadi is the founder and artistic director of the renowned Newcastle-based Catapult Dance Choreographic Hub, which aims to nurture both professional and emerging choreographers and artists while strengthening the presence of contemporary dance in Newcastle and the Hunter.

Speaking to Cadi, her lifelong passion for the artform is self-evident.

“I think that movement is a universal language that allows emotion, expression and really in-depth issues to be discussed using the body,” Cadi said.

“We all have a body and everybody’s body moves so it's a universal language - the majority of our communication as humans is through body language so dance actually provides a forum to really express and develop ideas.

“Dance is one of the oldest artforms - I feel like it’s a real leveler in a sense - from the cultural traditions across the globe to the more modern idea of contemporary dance practice.”

After studying at the Western Australian Academy for Performing Arts (WAAPA) and as professional dancer, independent artist working nationally and internationally, and as artistic director of Buzz Dance Theatre, WA, Cadi moved to Newcastle in 2012 where she recognised a gap in the professional dance practice landscape.

“I moved to Newcastle from Perth and there wasn’t a contemporary dance hub that offered professional contemporary dance practice like I was used to in Perth - there was a major gap in the artistic industry here,” Cadi said.

“I thought, ’why can’t we have a professional hub here that’s servicing not only the local community but also bringing artists from all around Australia and internationally to Newcastle?,” and this led to establishing Catapult in 2014.'"

Since its establishment, Catapult has forged a reputation as one of Australia’s leading and most active contemporary dance and multi-arts organisations thanks to staging up to 15 works each year, including the mesmerising Grappling From The Edge, staged for last year's New Annual festival.

Catapult's well-founded reputation is also forged through initiatives, such as its year-long emerging artist program Activate which provides emerging choreographers and physical theatre practitioners with residencies, mentoring, business development programs and networking opportunities (Not to mention a healthy dose of passion, a dedicated team and a fair amount of tenacity).

Other innovative programs include Catapult’s Professional Company and Catapult’s Propel Choreographic and Multi-Disciplinary residency program, and its youth initiative The Flipside Project - a nationally awarded contemporary choreographic dance program that gives young people the opportunity to work with professional choreographers, composers, and designers.

In fact, the Flipside Project was the recipient of an Australian Dance Award for Outstanding Achievement in Youth Dance in 2017.

With Cadi having worn many hats throughout her career - professional dancer, choreographer, educator and director, does she have a particular favourite, or do they each hold their own individual charms?

“I am a choreographer so I make main stage works and that’s just an incredible process to go through,” she said.

“But now that I’m older I love supporting other artists to make work through our Propel residency program and Catapult Company.

"I feel like that’s an important thing to be doing, supporting other choreographers to find their voice - First Nations choreographers, mid-career choreographers, emerging choreographers - and to be able to also provide a platform where they are paid for their art.”

Head here for more information on Catapult Dance Choreographic Hub

Picture Credits
Picture 1: Ashley De Prazer; Picture 2: Ashley De Prazer; Picture 3: Ashley De Prazer; Picture 4: Paul Dear