full interviews with Juliet & Joel

Ballet dancer Juliet Burnett and photographer Joel Benguigui talk about the collaboration with Darshana Shilpi Rouget, founder of Alba Amicorum.

juliet  burnett
juliet burnett

What drew you to this collaboration with Alba Amicorum and what was the inspiration/impetus?

Joel is a friend who invited me to be part of this collaboration. He told me about Alba Amicorum and that he thought I would be a good fit for the project because my values so align with those of the company; he was right!

Tell us a little about your work and background?

I am an Indonesian-Australian dancer born in Sydney, Australia. I danced with The Australian Ballet for nearly 13 years before becoming a freelancer, then made the move to Antwerp, Belgium in 2016 to join Ballet Vlaanderen. Aside from my consuming profession, I am also a writer, dance teacher and activist. I have also made a dance film for the Dark MOFO festival in Australia and conduct community outreach dance programs in Indonesia.

Do you feel artistic collaboration is important and, if so, why? Do you feel working with different artists from different artforms is important?

Absolutely. Art is the lifeblood of society. ‘Art is the voice for the people’, my uncle WS Rendra (Indonesia’s foremost poet, playwright and activist) famously said. Sometimes I think art, especially higher art forms like ballet and classical music, are too protected, too sacrosanct. It is important to cross-collaborate to keep those traditional art forms vibrant, alive and relevant to a contemporary society. Learning more about other art forms enriches me as an artist.

How did you find the collaboration and exchange with Joel and Darshana?

It was a very light, magical and natural exchange. It is always a joy when one doesn’t have to think too much and be able to be carried away in a work flow. This was very true for this collaboration.

Tell us a little bit about the process – what was important to you (technically, emotionally and artistically)?

In all my work I demand a deep understanding of the intention. Knowing this very well allows me to be totally honest and generous in my offering. In this process there were three creatives - Joel, Darshana and myself - whose humble purpose was to create images that captured the beauty, expression and detail of the scarves, through the movement of my body. I took inspiration for my movement from the artwork on each scarf, and in the gorgeous light of the space, I simply danced in response. Like a dialogue with each individual piece, if you will.

How do you feel on reflection – did you learn anything, and how do you feel about the final photos?

A picture does tell a thousand words … and then some. I think the beauty of the final photos shows the way each of us connected and grew together, even if it was for but a few hours.