Emerging International Markets

Ses Bero of Baiwa Dance Company
Photographer: Wayne Quillian

BlakDance is set to make 2015 the year that redefines contemporary dance by Australia’s first people to the world.

The industry body for contemporary Indigenous dance will link the importance of dance in telling the stories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, by emerging and mid-career dancers, with the opportunities to see those stories shared domestically and internationally.

BlakDance began with strong founding direction in the 2005 Creating Pathways’ vision – and 2015 will be when that vision is solidified.

Chair Monica Stevens believes BlakDance’s future framework will provide the strategic support to deepen the capacity of the entire sector.

“This is the time to enliven and renew what BlakDance does,” Ms Stevens said.

“We want BlakDance to reach a broader international platform and we are making a start through good governance and getting the right people on board.”

BlakDance will focus on presenters in the sector who are putting on new lenses through which to enjoy the diversity and dynamism of contemporary Indigenous dance.

This BlakDance priority coincides with increased national and international profiling of contemporary Indigenous expression.

The sector has had a spotlight on it as more buyers and audiences realise the creativity and innovation showcased by the likes of this year’s national Djuki Mala tour (formerly the Chooky Dancers) of 45 venues performing to more than 29,000 people.

Next year, Wiradjuri choreographer Vicki Van Hout’s new work Long Grass will premiere at Sydney Festival (playing at the Seymour Centre, 14-18 January) and be presented at Dance Massive (Melbourne: Arts House, Meat Market, Tue 10 – Sat 14 March).

To respond to this market demand, Merindah Donnelly, Executive Producer of BlakDance says there is a need for more export intelligence research to maximise opportunities for those BlakDance represents.

“This export intelligence through international exchange opportunities will give BlakDance a benchmark for the quality of work that can meet and satisfy burgeoning international demand,” she said.

In 2015, BlakDance will undertake 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.

Within Australia, BlakDance partners with renowned touring and producing organisation Performing Lines and looks forward to continued relationship with Ausdance National. Ms Donnelly said maintaining and developing even more relationships within the sector is a strong priority.

The renewal of BlakDance as a current, viable, and critical national peak body is something deputy chairman Dan Bourchier says will support and ambitiously create opportunities.

“BlakDance is pivotal in improving access to the performing arts market for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander performers to reach their potential,” he said.

“Our dream is that BlakDance will be a place our contemporary performers will look to for inspiration, information and support in the field.”

Dance has always been a strong part of First Nations cultures and communities, and BlakDance will broker more opportunities for contemporary Indigenous dance to be enjoyed in more spaces by more people, nationally and internationally.