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WAO Ghost Spotlight with Zoe Wozniak

Only a few days remain until The Nightingale opens, and amongst this thrum of activity lies the opportunity to learn how all the creative elements are intertwined. From notes of music to steps of choreography, we want to shine a spotlight on our creatives working tirelessly to bring the magic of opera to you. Connect with your state opera company on an intimate level and feel the rush of energy drawing two forms of artistic expression together.

This week we are joined by the Nightingale herself Zoe Wozniak as she explains how music and movement are married on stage, the influence of costume on choreography, and her love for learning within shared creative spaces.  

1. Talk to us about your titular role in The Nightingale – how is the spirit of the Nightingale expressed through movement?

Embodying the role of the Nightingale has been quite beautiful! I have never been part of an opera before and I really enjoyed the process. It has been such a joy to move to the music and embody this role of the Nightingale spirit. I have been in the studio working with Artistic Associate Alice Kell, from Co:3 Contemporary Dance. We have been responding to the music of the opera and creating a movement language which will translate and transform the Nightingale’s song through dance. 

Being a contemporary dancer, I bring my own way of moving to the studio and it has been fun to explore the qualities and details of the character. I also wear fabulous silver material wings as part of my costume. These wings have influenced the choreography hugely and I have worked in them since day one. 

I dance both the real nightingale and the mechanical nightingale in the opera. The real nightingale displays this sense of grace, beauty and purity. In this character I feel totally at one with the natural world. The mechanical nightingale, on the other hand, plays on the idea of the modern, manmade world. When filming the movement for this character (which will be projected in the show) it was far more ‘robotic’. We played with the ideas of a boomerang film and stop/start motion movement. Although the mechanical nightingale appears the same as the real nightingale, there is a stark contrast between their movement qualities. It was great to explore both versions of the character.

2. What is the relationship between singing and dance in this production? How are they intertwined?

I feel singing and dance in this production are very intertwined and woven together. Since the beginning of this development in the studio we have been working closely with the opera songs in which the real nightingale appears. The music for me expresses so much emotion and story and so to marry this with my movement has been key. It’s almost as if the dance is an extension of the song; the song is so beautiful, and the movement exaggerates its beauty. The song and the dance are telling the same story and I believe are powerful and united throughout.

3. How important do you think collaboration is within the arts? What are the benefits?

Collaboration in the arts is always amazingly beneficial! Sharing the space with other art forms and disciplines creates an environment for learning and growing. Working with all the different companies and groups of people involved in this production of The Nightingale has been inspiring.

4. What lead you to pursue dance? Where do you draw inspiration from?  

I was originally a figure skater and it was only in high school that I started dance and loved it! I started classical ballet classes and then discovered contemporary dance. I love that it is a form of communication and creativity. Sharing the space with other bodies and their stories is always inspiring for me.

5. Do you have any advice you would like to give to young people interested in performing? 

Always be curious and ask questions! 

Arts, creativity and performing is all around us even in moments we might not notice. I encourage young people to think about the world in different ways and be curious and confident in what interests them. Performing can be done in so many forms, so be willing and open to discover the possibilities. 

6. Can you share with us a creative work – be it a piece of music, art, dance, film or theatre – that ignites your emotions?

I have a Salvador Dali print hanging on the wall in my lounge room. This is something that ignites my imagination and emotions. I have always been a fan of his art and love that it makes me curious and look deeper. I feel it is a glimpse into another world where anything is possible, and things are not always as they seem. This excites me!

7. What exciting projects do you have on the horizon? 

After The Nightingale I am going straight into two different creative developments for Perth independent choreographers. 


The Nightingale opens this weekend with Zoe Wozniak dancing the titular role. Find out more about this inspiring production here

Image by Jessica Russell.



Zoe is a Perth-based independent artist and founding dancer of Co:3 Contemporary Dance. After graduating from WAAPA with a Bachelor of Arts (Dance) in 2013 she joined LINK Dance Company as a member in 2014. Since then she has created and performed for various independent artists, Ochre Contemporary Dance Company, and in Ohad Naharin’s Decadance Perth 2016 with STRUT Dance. 

Over the past five years she has performed in the following mainstage works at Co:3 under Artistic Director Raewyn Hill: re:Loaded, The Zone and WA Dance Makers Project. Zoe has also participated in Co:3 collaborations with: Sydney Dance Company on Antony Hamilton’s Crazy Times (2016/2017), West Australian Ballet on Garry Stewart’s Reincarnation (2019), and CIRCA’s Leviathan (2020).

Most recently Zoe performed in Australian Dance Theatre's North/South (2019) by Garry Stewart and Ina Christel Johannessen. She is currently in development with Raewyn Hill on Archives of Humanity, set to have its World Premiere in 2021.

Zoe Wozniak in the studio with Co:3 Artistic Associate Alice Kell.