Adam Synnott is an independent artist, contemporary dancer and designer. Synnott’s roots are grounded in the contemporary dance world, having previously worked for companies Leigh Warren + Dancers, Australian Dance Theatre, Chunky Move and Sue Healey as well as many independent artists. In 2008 Synnott and Jason Lam, also a fellow artist and dancer started design studios, Kaboom Studios and have designed for theatre, film and installation with notable names such as Graeme Murphy.

Synnott is currently working with Leigh Warren on his new work Touch and collaborating on a new dance and media work Chance with Lisa Griffiths, Craig Bary and Josh Thomson. Later on this year he will spend time in development at the Critical Path (SYD) and Tas Dance (TAS) studios. In addition to all this he is part way through studying a Masters of Interactive Multimedia at UTS in Sydney.

Adam talked to arts interview about collaboration in dance and the projects he is currently working on.

Interview by Alex Bellemore

What are the differences in collaborative methods between dance and design, besides the obvious difference in style?

Being a dancer I’m always designing from a dance perspective so I couldn’t really comment on the differences between the two except that dance is so physical and is invariably developed from an internal and almost unconscious place. Dance can also happen a little more instantly and be created in the moment. Design perhaps is a little more of a conscious and planned thing. The challenge then becomes how to create designs for dance while it’s being created in the studio. When collaborating with Lisa Griffiths and Craig Bary on their work Side to One, this usually resulted in a great many late nights getting stuff ready in time for the next day’s rehearsal. Craig makes a great coffee so it was all OK.

Can you tell us a bit more about your collaboration with your wife and fellow dancer, Lisa Griffiths. What have been the positive and negative aspects of working with your partner?

It’s all good. Lisa and I already have a common understanding and a strong vision for our work together. We work intuitively and at a level that only comes from such a place of trust and involvement, we often don’t need to talk everything through we can just dive into an idea head first. There’s no greater joy than getting in a studio and working with your friends and Lisa is my best friend.

Contemporary choreography today is very much a collaborative practice between choreographers and dancers. Can you articulate the difference between working for a choreographer who ultimately bills the work as their own, compared to a work which is billed as collaborative?

This is definitely something that I’ve come up against a little bit over the years. This type of work spans across the technical, creative and collaborative aspects of working with other artists and organisations. The line is somewhat blurred and the specific role that I fill is dependent on the individual project. Most of the time billing is not a problem, especially with independent artists, they are generally awesome and understanding. Sometimes you have to fight for recognition of your own work (not always successful) and sometimes people just flat out steal your ideas. You have just got to role with the punches I suppose and hope that your work will speak for itself in the end.

At Kaboom Studios you work with fellow artist and dancer Jason Lam, how do you two work together effectively as a business and as artists?

I wonder that same thing myself sometimes. Jason lives in Darwin (he’s a doctor of all things) while I’m between Sydney and Adelaide so it gets a little complicated at times. I don’t think we could sustain a business as well as work creatively together without ‘the cloud’ (cloud computing). We’re lucky our partnership has emerged at roughly the same time as services like drop-box and google docs so we’ve never really had to do without it, though I can’t imagine how we could. We keep or business model as flexible as we can and just try and keep it fun and interesting for ourselves.

What do you think is a key guideline to remember when working with other people?

One of the pitfalls of collaborating with other people, especially with people from different disciplines is communication and finding a common language. If you find a common language between your collaborators early on in the project your off to a great start.