For dancer Michael Noble, the Restless Dance company is his life and he can’t imagine a future without it.

Key points:

  • Restless Dance was a shock omission from Australia Council funding this year
  • The company features performing artists with and without disability
  • Several dancers said the company was an important part of their lives

“Everyone loves the shows, so I think Adelaide or even the world stage itself would be missing out if Restless wasn’t around any more,” he said during a break in rehearsal.

He described Restless Dance as his lifeblood.

“It’s a great significant help for my mental health.”

The company, which features dancers with and without disabilities, is facing a budget black hole and its future is clouded beyond this year.

Restless Dance ensemble’s show, Guttered, will feature in the Adelaide Festival.(ABC News: Lincoln Rothall)

When the Australia Council announced its latest four-year funding winners in 2020, Restless was a shock omission, as were La Mama Theatre in Melbourne and The Blue Room in Western Australia.

It means a $1.2 million shortfall over three years — a nightmare scenario at any time for an arts company, let alone during a pandemic.

Funding shock sent dance company into ‘grieving mode’

Ironically, the funding shock came straight after artistic director Michelle Ryan won an Australia Council award for her contribution to the dance sector.

“We went into grieving mode when we were unsuccessful with our four-year funding and I think we grieved for a couple of days,” Ms Ryan said.

“Then we just went into action going, ‘Actually, Restless is important and we have to find a way forward’.”

Performing artist Michael Noble (left) says the Restless Dance company is his life.(ABC News: Lincoln Rothall)

The company has transitional funding for this year, but Ryan said the situation was “precarious” and jobs have already been cut.

Ms Ryan said she was fully focused on producing a tight show, while at the same time knowing she has a much bigger challenge looming.

“We have to plan for projects that we may not know will go ahead, because we won’t have the security of that funding,” she said.

Performing artist Charlie Wilkins described the Restless Dance company as “family”.(ABC News: Lincoln Rothall)

The situation makes an invitation to perform in this year’s Adelaide Festival even more critical.

“[It is] our third Festival show in five years, so it’s really important for us to be able to show that we can produce quality work,” Ms Ryan said.

Company an important part of performers’ lives

Jianna Georgiou’s life changed when she joined Restless back in 2006.

The 29-year-old is flat-out in the final rehearsals for the company’s Festival show Guttered, which is set in a ten-pin bowling alley.

“I’m a dancer, a full-time dancer, and I’ve been dancing with Restless for a long time,” Ms Georgiou said.

Jianna Georgiou is in final rehearsals ahead of Guttered’s opening performance.(ABC News: Lincoln Rothall)

“[The show] is going to be fun, it’s going to be extraordinary and the people will be staring at us.”

Fellow dancer Charlie Wilkins said Restless Dance was too important to lose.

A fundraising campaign will start soon, while the company will also pursue grants and philanthropy avenues.

Guttered opens at Kingpin Norwood on the opening night of Adelaide Festival on Friday, February 26.