CREATING PATHWAYS 2005 - National Indigenous Dance Forum
It has been widely documented that I struggle with many personal and mental demons; these demons led me to an attempt on my life by way of Suicide in 2012; thankfully, I am lucky enough to be alive, to share my story of hope & survival with a larger audience both nationally and internationally.
In my travels and many speaking engagements, largely documented over social media, various people across the country see the positive work I contribute in many First Nation and Non-Indigenous communities. I travel across the country implementing wellness programs in community in hope to reduce the Suicide rates. Many who know my background with severe mental illness & suicidal ideation, ask what the secret to my personal healing is, and the work I do in community, and healing the mental hurt.
In a word, it’s Culture.
The biggest healer for me since my attempted suicide has been the reconnection to culture; the many aspects of culture but in particular, dance.
This is why at the National Indigenous Dance Forum; I pitched the idea to have an open discussion on the topic ‘Culture & Dance as Medicine’
I have never been a dancer for performance, but once I connected to traditional dancing; it gave me a much deeper connection & healing. For me, when dancing, covered in ochre, that ochre, the blood and bones of our old people; the ancestors who paved a way for the very footsteps we take today.
When dancing the story of our animal ancestors, we feel a spiritual connect that takes us to the very creation of our existence.
This is healing.
Pre colonisation in 1788, our wellbeing was of positive nature, we were living in harmony and there were no suicides; this speaks volumes - what our old people were doing, was keeping us alive and well, and what they were doing, was working. On the opposing end of the scale, with the negativity, hurt & trauma in today’s society & our suicide rates the highest on the planet, what we were doing now, clearly isn’t having positive impact.
The answer to this healing is through traditional culture & dance. When we dance, not only are we spiritually connected, but when we are physically connected, it is scientifically proven the earth has natural healing energies that transform directly into the body with bare contact.
Also when we dance, we have what is now called mindfulness; concentrating on the immediate task; what move we make allowing us to be in the present moment. This is what our old people have been doing since the beginning of time.
Recent evidence of this was the coming together and execution of the recent Redfern Corroboree.
Concerned local mothers came to me worried about the behaviours of young people in the community in fear of them heading down a negative path of alcohol, drugs & trouble.
They noticed the positive work I, and many of the cultural men I connect with do across the country and wanted to see if I’d be interested in having a word or organising some wellbeing workshops; I knew what the community needed, it was healing though the medicine of culture.
Through cultural group I am connected with, we rallied 100+ culturally strong men from right across NSW & QLD, gathered in the heart of Redfern, stomped Mother Earth, called on the old people & woke the spirit that had been laying dormant for some 200+ years.
Local inspiring leader uncle Shane Phillips, described the experience ‘something he’d never experienced before’.
The atmosphere was electric, the yearning was strong - culture was alive.
Leader and activist Aunty Jenny Munro pulled me aside with a kiss on the cheek and said - ‘nephew our old people have been doing this for thousands of years, this is how we heal’.
She is right, it is culture that will provide the very healing we have been craving for so many years; healing is in the one thing we have been practicing for thousands of years; the healing is through culture & dance.
A month past since the Corroboree, I have been still receiving phone calls and texts asking for the next one and how incredibly strong and proud it has made the many individuals who witnessed, they could feel the old people.
The proof is in the action;
When we need healing, we need to connect; sink our feet into the dirt, our Mother Earth, wear our ochre; the blood and bones of our old people - connect to 65,000 years of modern science dated history; but we know it’s much more than that.
Joe Williams - The Enemy Within
Founder & International Speaker
Facebook – The Enemy Within; Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Education
Instagram – joewilliams_tew
Twitter – joewilliams_tew
National Indigenous Dance Forum (NIDF)
A Gathering, presented by BlakDance
5–7 MAY 2017
THE NATIONAL INDIGENOUS DANCE FORUM (NIDF) IS A BLAKDANCE GATHERING, PRESENTED IN PARTNERSHIP WITH YIRRAMBOI FIRST NATIONS ARTS FESTIVAL
THE NIDF IS FOR ALL DANCE COMMUNITIES – CULTURAL AND CONTEMPORARY DANCERS, COMMUNITY DANCE GROUPS AND INDEPENDENT ARTISTS – TO GATHER TO DISCUSS OUR NEEDS IN COMMUNITIES ACROSS AUSTRALIA.
THE NIDF IS PART OF THE BULLARTO WONTHAGGI (EVERYONE GATHERING TOGETHER) PROGRAM OF YIRRAMBOI FIRST NATIONS ARTS FESTIVAL.
THE NIDF IS FOR PEOPLE WHO WANT TO BE ACTIVELY INVOLVED IN DEVELOPING A NATIONAL ACTION PLAN FOR INDIGENOUS DANCE AND ARE WILLING TO WORK WITH OTHERS FROM ACROSS THE COUNTRY IN THE COMING YEARS TO MAKE IT HAPPEN. IT WILL BRING TOGETHER REPRESENTATIVES FROM AS MANY REGIONS AS POSSIBLE.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON PREVIOUS NATIONAL INDIGENOUS DANCE FORUMS, PLEASE TAKE A LOOK AT THE CREATING PATHWAYS OUTCOMES FROM 2005.
ON SUNDAY 7 MAY 2017 BLAKDANCE WILL HOST ABORIGINAL BALLET DANCERS OF AUSTRALIA.
A HISTORIC DISCUSSION PANEL BRINGING TOGETHER 7 ABORIGINAL BALLET DANCERS TO JOURNEY THROUGH HISTORY, FRIENDSHIP, GENEROSITY AND HOPES.
Aboriginal Ballet Dancers of Australia
7 May, 6.30PM
Melbourne City Town Hall
Co-convened by Marilyn Miller (founder of BlakDance) and David McAllister (Artistic Director Australian Ballet)
We’re inviting presenters and programmers an opportunity to join a delegation to the BlakDance Presenter Series, which is a program that sits alongside the National Indigenous Dance Forum (NIDF). The NIDF is part of the Bullarto Wonthaggi (Everyone Gathering Together) program of YIRRAMBOI First Nations Arts Festival.
Location: Meat Market, Melbourne
Dates: 5–7 May 2017
THE BLAKDANCE PRESENTER SERIES SITS ALONGSIDE THE NIDF TO PROVIDE PRESENTERS AND PRODUCERS THE OPPORTUNITY TO DEVELOP FIRST HAND INSIGHTS INTO CURATORIAL CAPACITY OF FIRST NATIONS DANCE.
The BlakDance Presenter Series delegation will spend the first three nights of the Festival immersing themselves in First Nations dance. Delegates will have the opportunity to participate in hand crafted presenter workshops, see and discuss work with colleagues, network and develop first hand insights into curatorial capacity of First Nations dance.
We are looking for presenters and programmers who are seeking authentic experiences for their audiences and might not otherwise have the opportunity to access a diverse range of First Nations dance productions and makers.
Delegates will participate in a schedule of activities comprising of selected performances and group activities, networking events with the Indigenous dance sector through interfacing with the National Indigenous Dance Forum.
OUR PROJECT IS BEING LED BY:
ANGELA FLYNN, INDIGENOUS ARTS CONSULTANT
JUDY HARQUAIL, LEADING CONTEMPORARY DANCE INDUSTRY EXPERT (CANADA)
MEREDITH BOGGIA, NEW YORK-BASED DANCE PRODUCER (USA)
COLLETTE BRENNAN, CEO, ABBOTSFORD CONVENT
JANE FULLER, HEAD OF PROGRAMMING NORPA
KIRK PAGE, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR NORPA
LYDIA FAIRHALL, HEAD OF PROGRAMMING FOOTSCRAY ARTS CENTRE
BEN GRAETZ, CREATIVE PRODUCER, ILBIJERRI
These industry leaders will deliver a program that seeks to transform the skills of the participants and the way they engage with Indigenous contemporary dance practice through their programming within national touring.
BlakDance will curate a group of choreographers with national touring aspirations who are already in attendance at the NIDF, to up skill and provide market development training to enable deeper engagement with the presenters. You will have opportunities to connect with them through dedicated networking events and facilitated processes. This provides an opportunity for both artists and presenters to build meaningful relationships with each other.
BlakDance staff and industry advisers will assess the impact of the opportunity for the individual or organisation according to the following selection criteria:
1 How the opportunity will strengthen your capacity as an arts professional and/or organisation to deliver your audience development goals
2 The relevance and timeliness of the proposed opportunity in delivering your audience development goals
3 The ability of you and/ or your organisation to effectively implement change.
The project team leaders and BlakDance will assess the EOI’s.
You will be asked to provide details addressing the selection criteria when you submit your EOI through the BlakDance website.
Expressions of Interest can be submitted through the BlakDance website from the 29 March. The delegation will be formed against a framework considering the overall mix of participants necessary to reflect a diverse range of art forms, regions and experience.
Applications from regional and remote areas are strongly encouraged.
You will be informed of the outcome of your expression of interest by 22 April 2017.
To discuss your expression of interest, please contact Merindah Donnelly, Executive Producer, BlakDance. email@example.com
We are offering this program at no cost to presenters, however please note:
BlakDance cannot not cover flights or accommodation.
We can recommend locations near the Festival hub.
We cannot supply tickets to nominated events.
Any additional costs will be borne by the participant.
Participants are encouraged to extend their stay to take in more of the Festival and add value to their travel with meetings and events outside of scheduled activities.
THE IBIS HOTEL, SWANSTON STREET, MELBOURNE, THROUGH THEIR PARTNERSHIP WITH THE MEAT MARKET IS OFFERING A DISCOUNT TO DELEGATES. GO TO THE MEAT MARKET WEBSITE FOR MORE INFORMATION.
THE INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF BLACKS IN DANCE (IABD) PRESENTS THE 30TH ANNUAL INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE AND FESTIVAL OF BLACKS IN DANCE IN LOS ANGELES, JAN 23-28, 2018.
IABD HAS ASKED BLAKDANCE TO INFORM OUR MEMBERS OF THIS SIGNIFICANT OPPORTUNITY!
THEY ARE REQUESTING EXPRESSIONS OF INTEREST (EOI) FROM THE AUSTRALIAN INDIGENOUS DANCE SECTOR TO ATTEND THE CONFERENCE AND FESTIVAL.
Attending the conference and festival provides opportunities to:
- Undertake Professional Development
- Present work (cultural and or contemporary, excerpts, 10 minute maximum)
- Deliver workshops and master classes
- Present ideas, dialogue or conversation topics.
To submit an EOI, you must complete the form BELOW. This must be submitted by September 1st to allow time for IABD to assess applications.
If this is something you want to attend, please be aware of the process:
1. Complete EOI online below by September 1st.
2. All EOI’s will be sent to IABD to be assessed by them.
3. If IABD selects your EOI, you must then submit an individual grant application to the Australia Council for the Arts by the October 3 funding deadline (or find alternate funding elsewhere).
PLEASE NOTE: This is not a funded activity. BlakDance is NOT involved in the selection process or providing funding. We can provide support for you to submit a funding application. We are not submitting on your behalf. If your EOI is selected by IABD, your attendance is funding dependent (through Australia Council or other).
IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN TAKING UP THE SUPPORT OF BLAKDANCE FOR THESE OPPORTUNITIES PLEASE COMPLETE THE BELOW EOI FORM BY SEPTEMBER 1st.
*Please note you will need a current passport for this opportunity*
*EOIs have now closed*
AUSTRALIA COUNCIL FOR THE ARTS FUNDING
CAREER DEVELOPMENT GRANTS FOR INDIVIDUALS AND GROUPS
Want to further develop your skills in Australia or overseas by:
-A self-organised residency
-Attend professional development / practice workshops
-Work with a mentor or community
-Collaborate on a new work
-Go on secondment with a company
-Attend a symposium or conference
The main focus on this grant is about the impact on your career your project will have.
FIND OUT MORE
Next Closing Date: 3 October 2017 Project start date after: 1 January 2018
READ THE EVALUATION BY BLAKDANCE TRAINEE PRODUCER HANNAH SCANLON HERE
APACA / PAX 2017
ON 21-24 AUGUST, BLAKDANCE AND 4 OF THE NEXT GENERATION OF INDIGENOUS CHOREOGRAPHERS TRAVEL TO GAMMERAIGAL COUNTRY FOR APACA / PAX
BLAKDANCE HAS A PITCH SESSION & 2 ENCOUNTER SESSIONS AT PAX
AND A BREAKOUT SESSION AT APACA: PERFORMING COUNTRY
TUESDAY 22ND AUGUST
PAX PITCH SESSION #4 11:00AM - 12:10PM
BLAKDANCE - PITCH
BLAKDANCE ENCOUNTER SESSION 12:15PM - 1:00PM
MEET MARIAA RANDALL AND THOMAS E.S. KELLY
BLAKDANCE ENCOUNTER SESSION 3:45PM - 4:30PM
MEET KATINA OLSEN AND AMRITA HEPI
THURSDAY 24TH AUGUST
BREAKOUT: PERFORMING COUNTRY 1:30PM - 2:30PM
PERFORMING COUNTRY IS AN AMBITIOUS FOUR-YEAR PROJECT THAT WILL FOCUS ON PLACE BASED COLLABORATION BETWEEN INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES AND VENUES, ENRICHING INDIGENOUS LED LOCAL LEADERSHIP, ENGAGEMENT AND TRANSFORMING VENUES.
PERFORMING COUNTRY IS A PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN BLAKDANCE, BLACKFULLA PERFORMING ARTS ALLIANCE, PERFORMING LINES AND Performing Arts Connections Australia.
PERFORMING COUNTRY WILL BE LED AND DEVELOPED WITH THE ADVICE AND GUIDANCE OF INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES, ELDERS AND PERFORMING ARTS EXPERTS. JOIN US FOR AN UPDATE AND DISCUSSION WITH OUR PROJECT PARTNERS.
Speakers: Karilyn Brown, Anne-Marie Heath, Rachael Maza & Merindah Donnelly
BLAKDANCE WILL ALSO BE ATTENDING THE PRESENTING FIRST NATIONS WORK: CULTURAL PROTOCOLS SESSION.
WEDNESDAY 23RD AUGUST
3:00PM - 4:00PM
Are you presenting or contemplating presenting Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander work?
How welcoming is your venue for your Indigenous community members?
Following on from this popular session at our 2016 conference, this session will provide you with advice and suggestions on how you can cultivate Indigenous cultural protocols.
Speaker : Mark Stapleton
APACA, the Australian Performing Arts Centres Association, is presenting the 2017 Performing Arts Exchange [PAX] and 'Outside, In´- this year’s performing arts conference.
The Performing Arts Exchange (PAX) is APACA’s flagship networking and development event. It’s a face-to-face market which brings together producers and presenters from across the country to create and maximise touring opportunities and build relationships.
When Fred Leone isn’t busy curating Clancestry and working as a guest director for Black Arm Band, you can find him revitalizing cultural practices as Artistic Director of the Guruman Dancers (Guruman meaning Kangaroo in Butchella). Fred is an Aboriginal, Tongan and South-Sea Islander man from the Garawa people of Far North West Queensland into the Northern Territory, and the Butchella mob of Fraser Coast.
Recently we caught up with BlakDance member Fred, to hear more about the Guruman Dancers who are heading off overseas to Taiwan and Scotland this year.
“Our traditional dance group Guruman Dancers have been invited to perform at the Global Indigenous Peoples Performing Arts Festival in Taipei, Taiwan. We will be taking part in a cultural exchange with the Amis (Indigenous peoples of Taiwan),”Fred said. As well as performing in July, the group will be holding workshops and engaging in conversations around traditional and contemporary arts practice.
Interestingly, in this funding landscape, the group have committed to going on this journey without funding support. The Guruman Dancers have approached two potential sponsors for this exchange, however no funding has been confirmed. Regardless of this, the Guruman Dancers are still going and the group is considering applying to the next round of Australia Council funding.
The story of this cultural exchange came about through a connection Fred made while on an earlier trip to Taiwan. The conversation continued at APAM this year, and led to the invitation to perform. Along with Fred as Artistic Director, there are twelve dancers heading off to take part in the tour. Members of the Guruman Dancers come from different nations across the east coast of Australia including: Badjtala, Garawa, Waanyi, Yanuwa, Gungurri, Yugarapul, Birri Gubba, Wiradjuri & Goomeroi.
The Guruman Dancers have a busy year of knowledge exchange and creative development ahead. After they finish up their journey with the Amis in Taiwan they will be travelling to Scotland. The Guruman Dancers will be collaborating with The National Theatre of Scotland in October. This work is part of collaboration across five different countries called Home/Away that investigates the effects of urbanization on belonging, home, country and land. (You can find the full list of collaborating companies at the end of this article).
Having events that celebrate the contemporary Indigenous dance scene has been critical to the Guruman Dancers making the right connections to tour. The opportunity to collaborate grew from networking at Clancestry in 2014 when artist and Gaelic poet Judith Parrot connected the Guruman Dancers with the National Theatre Scotland. The tour to Scotland will be co-produced by Jorden Verzar and Fred Leone.
Speaking about the collaboration and the work the Guruman Dancers will develop Fred said,
“Our section will address identity within an urban context and explore authenticity of contemporary cultural practice, intergenerational transfer of knowledge and the fracturing that is prevalent in Urban Aboriginal culture but also the parts that are stronger than the roots of the Ironbark tree.”
This collaboration shows how cultural revitalization and language preservation through traditional and contemporary practice of dance and language is central to their work.
Read more about the Guruman Dancers here.
List of companies collaborating on Home/Away with the National Theatre of Scotland:
- Brazil: Rio De Janeiro, and involve theatre and circus director Renato Rocha, with a new piece to be created with participants from two Rio favelas, working alongside companies Nós do Morro and AfroReggae.
- United States: Theatre director and Fulbright Fellow Sarah-Rose Graber Adventure Stage Theatre Company.
- India, New Dehli: The Yuva Ekta Foundation.
- Jamaica, Kingston: Manifesto JA.
- Scotland, Edinburgh Scotland: Artlink, Uist and Glasgow Scotland: Artists Rona MacDonald, Gillebride MacMillan and Judy Parrott will work with Glasgow-based director John Binnie and Scotland, Glasgow: The Bangladeshi Association of Glasgow.
2016 has taken an unexpected but not unwelcome turn for independent performing artist Waiata Telfer.
Having already performed at Adelaide’s Spirit Festival as part of the Adelaide Fringe, and with the prospects of touring to Japan with another production company on the horizon, the Narungga-Kaurna woman with British and Burmese ancestry is off to a busy start.
Telfer says she has been trying to “break into the greater performing network” for years, and after conversing with producers and presenters at the Dana Waranara Convergence in December last year, her efforts have begun to pay off.
Telfer was invited to perform as part of the Adelaide Fringe Festival, and is in discussions for pursuing national and international tours of her solo work.
Telfer presented a snippet of her self-written and produced performance ‘SONG the story of a girl, a bird and a teapot,’ at Dana Waranara, and says this was an invaluable experience to make connections with local, national and international guests.
“At first I was a bit hesitant to go because I don’t call myself a dancer, so I shied away from it.”
“I am a cross arts performer and incorporate other mediums than just dance into my work.”
“It was very empowering for me actually. It was empowering to be a part of that process and to be a part of that conversation.”
The Convergence, held at Brisbane’s Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts in partnership with both BlakDance and Performing Lines, brings together performers, presenters and programmers to look at how they can best showcase and incorporate Indigenous dance into mainstream venues and programs.
“One thing that I really appreciated about Dana Waranara is that dancers, especially the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander dance community are very unique. I think that even us as Blackfullas, we miss that, you forget how unique we really are. And I think that that’s what came away for me, that it’s a really strong community that has so much to offer the greater dance performance sector.”
“There was a really strong, supportive, healing and open energy at Dana Waranara that I haven’t really experienced elsewhere.”
Telfer has come a long way from the 15 year-old girl who began acting and performing in Adelaide.
At just 17, Telfer began a solo journey from Adelaide to Sydney leaving her family behind, to follow her dreams of becoming a dancer.
“Once upon a time my goal was just to be a performer and to be out on stage … and I had no real idea of what I wanted to do with that. I just liked moving and dancing and being exposed to that kind of creative environment. I am now more interested in the storytelling aspect of performance.”
Since then, she has studied at NAISDA, University of Technology Sydney, and CASM, gaining qualifications in dance, music and writing.
She has also raised her children. Two daughters aged 20 and 10 years of age.
“I am a mover, I am interested in movement in everything that I do. It’s the base of storytelling for me.”
“I’ve always been a person that is interested in stories, storytelling, and politics; the politics of being an Aboriginal person in the Australian social political climate. So that’s what drives me and inspires me to create work.”
Telfer is planning to open a new season of ‘SONG the story of a girl, a bird and a teapot,’ as well as developing new projects including a song-based work with Indigenous women in the Adelaide area.
The BlakDance Summit 2015 focused on a review of the sector goals from the Creating Pathways forum held in 2005 and to evaluate the progress of the sector over 10 years.
How does the local scene influence your practice? Listen as Merindah Donnelly, Executive Producer BlakDance and four contemporary dance artists from around Australian describe their own aesthetics and influences. ‘Our local scene is the 600 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island nations, our diverse songlines, protocol, histories and experiencesWe have over 30 contemporary choreographers with bodies of work and over 100,000 cultural dance practitioners. We have a flourishing scene, but most of you (here at Dance Massive) have seen less than 10% of the work of our artists.’ Merindah Donnelly.
Image - Dance Massive 2015
Indigenous participants at the recent National Dance Forum challenged the sector over its lack of engagement with and support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists.
The Forum, coinciding with the biennial festival Dance Massive, was held at Footscray Community Arts Centre from 19-21 March and featured 154 delegates, representing every state and territory.
Image - Thomas E S Kelly & Taree Sansbury in Wiradjuri choreographer Vicki Van Hout’s new production Long Grass
BlackDance is the industry body for contemporary Indigenous dance. BlakDance has provided pathways and built connections among artists, arts organisations and funders, powering the arts to energise our communities.
Image - BlakDance Showcase Tammi Gissell - Feather and Tar
“It is a crucial time for BlakDance as we reflect on the cultural landscape of contemporary dance in Australia and activate our priorities. The founding 2005 Creating Pathways’ vision continues to drive our work.”
Image - BlakDance Showcase Ojeya Cruz Banks - Esperitu Tasi
“Our dream is that BlakDance will be a place our contemporary performers will look to for inspiration, information and support in the field.” This year BlakDance is undertaking a market probe of emerging international markets with a fellowship awarded by the International Society of Performing Arts (ISPA) Congress in New York, Vancouver’s PUSH performing arts market and the Talking Stick First Nations Performing Arts Festival.
Image - BlakDance Showcase Rita Pryce - Warupaw Uu
“Seu Ngapa Welcome Lagaw Gub Island Wind brings the Torres Strait Islands to you.”
Lagaw Gub is a Torres Strait Islander dance education kit developed to share information about the rich heritage of Mua Island in the Torres Straits showcasing the songs, dances and stories of Dujon Niue
“From time immemorial, dance has, and is still used by all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people both for ritual purposes and to express and represent many facets of their lives and beliefs.” BlakDance 2012, an international showcase celebrating First Nation contemporary dance.
Australian Performing Arts Market (APAM) 2014
Over 600 delegates representing 31 countries came to Brisbane to attend APAM 2014. They attended showcases and heard pitches from 52 Australian and New Zealand companies and artists looking for partners, collaborators and investors to tour their performing arts works.