Dana Waranara

11 March 2015

BlakDance and Performing Lines announce a partnership that will propel the next generation of Indigenous dancers and choreographers: DANA WARANARA

Ghenoa Gela - Winds of Woerr
Ghenoa Gela - Winds of Woerr

BlakDance, the national industry body for contemporary Indigenous dance, is excited to announce a new project in partnership with Performing Lines.

Dana Waranara will support contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander choreographers to extend their practice and the life of an existing or a new work in-development, and create pathways to new opportunities for the next generation of dancers and choreographers.

Successful in recently securing an injection of funding from the Australia Council for the Arts through the highly competitive Creative Australia/Dance grant program, the Dana Waranara project will be launched in mid-2015.

The project will also be linked to BlakDance’s long-term international strategy, currently being developed by Executive Producer, Merindah Donnelly, and who is attending major markets and festivals in North America during 2015.

Ms Donnelly says, “What’s really important about this project is its focus on redefining producing and touring models. No longer is it solely a presenter driven structure. BlakDance is deliberately undergoing a process that will see presenters collaborating with artists from the beginning of a process, ensuring that protocols and ethics are Indigenous led from day one.”

Dana Waranara will build knowledge, interest and networks for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander choreographers through alliances with key events such as Dance Massive and a number of Indigenous festivals, as well as organisations such as Critical Path, Strut Dance, The BANFF Centre in Canada, Arts NSW’s Birrang program and more.

Performing Lines has a rich history of producing and touring Indigenous performing artists. We look forward to partnering with BlakDance to create more opportunities for Australian and international presenters and audiences to experience the extraordinary depth of contemporary Indigenous dance”– Karilyn Brown, Chief Executive Officer, Performing Lines.

BlakDance is thrilled to seed this project.

Image: Winds of Woerr choreographed by Ghenoa Gela, a Performing Lines MAPS NSW artist.

BlakDance would like to acknowledge and thank Uncle Richard Green for the Dharug name Dana Waranara ‘Come over here! Bring your (dancing) feet’.

Media contacts:

Thom Smyth | marketing@performinglines.org.au | 08 9200 6212

A vehicle for change

By Ann-Maree Long & BlakDance

12 April 2013

BlakDance Australia Ltd is an industry leader in the performing arts and an advocate for Indigenous contemporary dance in Australia, with the vision to contribute significantly to the artistic landscape of Australian Dance. BlakDance supports and promotes their dance artists at state, national and international level. Their BlakDance 2012 performance and professional development program demonstrates this.

It’s a story told by passionate movement, by a collaboration of inspiring cultural artists, young and old. It’s a call for home, to our ancestors, and for all to listen. It exposes identity and truth. There’s controversy, and it’s important, but most of all it is learning.

Dancers Albert David, Kenny Johnson and Tyrel Dulvarie perform Giz by choreographer Albert David at BlakDance 2012. Photo: Anja Ali-Haapala
Dancers Albert David, Kenny Johnson and Tyrel Dulvarie perform Giz by choreographer Albert David at BlakDance 2012. Photo: Anja Ali-Haapala

BlakDance 2012 was a touching performance narrated by a diverse group of First Nation independent dance artists, and companies and families from around the globe. The production was held in June 2012 in partnership with the Queensland Theatre Company. The vision was to profile Australian First Nation independent contemporary choreographers on an international platform. The program was designed to bring together a diverse range of work representing a diverse range of cultural artistic voices.

The lead-­up to the BlakDance 2012 performance, and the performance itself, was a week that I will never forget. As I was sitting there at lunch after a dance workshop, I gazed around in admiration at all of the individuals coming together. Artists from Guam, New Zealand, Aboriginal Australia and the Torres Strait Island Australia were all chatting, laughing, creating friendships and listening to each other’s stories.

Dancer Nicola Sabatino performs Feather & Tar by choreographer Tammi Gissell at BlakDance 2012. Photo: Anja Ali-Haapala
Dancer Nicola Sabatino performs Feather & Tar by choreographer Tammi Gissell at BlakDance 2012. Photo: Anja Ali-Haapala

The choreographers were Ojeya Cruz Banks, Cathy Livermore, Jack Gray, Tammi Gissell, Rita Pryce and Albert David. Being surrounded by these artists and listening to tales of their past gave me a strong sense of self, cultural worth and pride. It was one of the most satisfying emotions, and I imagine that the students, adults and children around me shared this feeling.

The lights went down and it was the evening of the first performance. The feelings and thoughts that came across my mind during the performance were unlike anything I had ever experienced. I felt exposed, but in a way that I had needed to be.

Being involved in the production BlakDance 2012, and working at BlakDance Australia Ltd as an intern in my final year as a journalism student has inspired me. We all have stories to share that connect us, and every one of us has a past, a history, ancestors and traditions.

It’s often challenging being an Indigenous Australian with pale skin and blonde hair, yet sitting there in the audience, this all became so insignificant to me.

I’m a Butchulla woman of Fraser Island, and grew up in Toowoomba, Queensland. My mother is an Indigenous artist, and during my childhood I was always surrounded by her art, and passion of culture and artistic expression. When I was watching the BlakDance 2012 performance I felt the music, the song, the stories and movement as if it were in my own body. It took me home.

It’s not every day that you can sit around and be surrounded by such a diverse cultural group of people. I know the future is secure with the support of our industry, with the vision to move forward with one voice.

BlakDance is an exciting place to be working as an intern in my final year as a dance and journalism student. I look forward to being a part of the planning for BlakDance 2014 and the many other initiatives.

For more information please contact BlakDance on admin@blakdance.org.au www.facebook.com/BlakDance | www.blakdance.org.au | www.twitter.com/blakdance