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.