When Julia Gillard gave her now-famous misogyny speech in 2012, dancer Natalie Allen was rehearsing at Sydney Dance Company.

“Everyone rushed in to say that the prime minister had stood up in parliament and made this speech,” Allen tells Broadsheet. “I don’t think I properly understood the gravitas of that moment until I started creating Julia with Sally Richardson: to stand up in parliament and gracefully and very commandingly and courageously tell men that misogyny and sexism was never appropriate, ever.”

Allen started working on the solo dance-theatre work in 2019. It’s inspired by Australia’s only female prime minister’s legacy, but also by the impact of the #MeToo movement, and discrimination and violence towards women in Australia. Excerpts of Gillard’s speech are played throughout the performance. Julia is one of four dance productions by female choreographers featured in Indance, a new independent dance program at Sydney Dance Company’s Neilson Studio.

Broadsheet Access members get special tables at busy restaurants, tickets to exclusive events and discounts on food, coffee, brand offers and more.

Find out more

The program will be staged over two weekends between August 19 and 27, offering a platform for independent choreographers and dancemakers to present their work. “It’s a very savvy approach and has created opportunities for people within the dance sector,” says Allen.

Her 40-minute piece, which won the outstanding performer and best independent production prizes at the Performing Arts Western Australia (PAWA) Awards, initially focused solely on the famed 2012 speech. But Allen says the piece – which sees her don a red wig and a pantsuit – has developed over the last three years into something more.

“We knew there was more story to tell,” she says. “It wasn’t only about Julia Gillard. It was about the wave that every woman goes through, on a daily basis, of discrimination, of feeling worthless or feeling like they don’t have a voice. It was about women in power, women in leadership, power dynamics and discrimination. It needed to be founded in the iconography of Julia Gillard, but it actually needed to speak to all women.”

So, does Gillard know about Julia?

“We have contacted her office. And we did get a response the other week saying that they knew about the work and they would let Julia know. We’re hoping that someone will come to the show in Sydney. I think it would be a very interesting experience for Julia to be there, because it’s centred around her. It would be an honour.”

Indance will be performed at the Neilson Studio. Siren Dance by Lilian Steiner and Castillo by Prue Lang will be performed on August 19 and 20; Julia by Natalie Allen and Explicit Contents by Rhiannon Newton will be performed on August 26 and 27.