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Paul Mercurio: A life lived in fear is a life half-lived

Episode ten: sponsored by Energetiks

And so, for our final episode of Season 2 of Talking Pointes, I’m speaking with the legendary Paul Mercurio.

30 years ago this year, a small independent film, by a first time director, and an unknown cast, hit our screens. That film was Strictly Ballroom. And so, for our final episode of Season 2 of Talking Pointes, I’m speaking with the legendary Paul Mercurio. Paul was born in Swan Hill in regional Victoria and started dancing after he saw his elder sister in a local dance class. With dad off the scene early, the family moved to Perth where Paul continued to train at the John Curtin Senior High School as it was known then, before, at 18, being accepted in the Australian Ballet School in Melbourne. But in a rebel move, he joined Sydney Dance Company before graduating, it was the golden era of Graeme Murphy’s directorship. It was a position he held for ten years, as a principal dancer, muse and choreographer.

During his later years Sydney Dance Company, Paul received a call from an unknown director called Baz Lurhmann who asked him to help choreograph on a dance film. It was a call that changed his life. In this wonderfully honest interview, Paul talks about his early years in dance, his “angry man” years as he calls them—where he wrote poetry, smoked weed, and rode motorbikes. We also talk about how Strictly Ballroom came to be, the behind the scene, and how the film changed his life. Finally we talk new careers, raising a family, and his plans for making a more inclusive community in his local area.

Paul and I recorded remotely, with Paul dialling in from Melbourne on the land of the Kulin people. Paul’s episode was produced in Sydney on the land of the Gadigal People of the Eora Nation, to whom we pay our greatest respects.

We’re delighted that Paul Mercurio’s episode of Talking Pointes is sponsored by Energetiks. Energetiks are a sustainable, Australian Made brand that specialise in creating world class dancewear for the stars of tomorrow. Perform and feel your best at every stage of your dance journey in Energetiks’ premium, high performance fabrics. See their entire range online at energetiks.com.au, and for all Talking Pointes listeners there’s a 20% discount on all Energetiks productslisten in for the code!

Images courtesy of Paul Mercurio

Claudia Lawson

Claudia Lawson is a dance critic based in Sydney, Australia, writing regularly for ABC Radio National, ABC Arts, and Fjord Review. After graduating with degrees in Law and Forensic Science, Claudia worked as a media lawyer for the ABC, FOXTEL and the BBC in London, where she also co-founded Street Sessions dance company. Returning to Sydney, Claudia studied medicine and now works as a doctor. She is the host of the award-winning Talking Pointes Podcast.


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