Arts initiative brings movement to indigenous students

Indigenous dance links into movements associated with animals, the land, and communication between people.

Indigenous dance links into movements associated with animals, the land, and communication between people.

More than 60 indigenous students across the lower mid north coast recently gathered at Nabiac to take part in an Aboriginal dance workshop.

Coming from eight schools across the district – Nabiac, Gloucester, Harrington, Tea Gardens, Coolongolook, Bulahdelah, Tuncurry and Wingham - it was a chance to learn not just technical skills and cultural knowledge, but mingle with other students from different areas.

The Aboriginal Dance Workshop was part of a program within the Arts Unit of the NSW Department of Education. It is held across the state to develop younger students’ skills in contemporary Aboriginal Dance. 

“We run a number of arts initiatives for particular demographics and find ways to support their needs.It’s about engaging them in performing arts and thereby into the school, encouraging their interest in culture, and this all spills over into self esteem, self belief and awareness of what they can achieve,” Sonja Sjolander, Arts Initiatives Advisor said.

“Within one session they will learn technical skills, repertoirs, background of movement, and have the opportunity of interacting with students from other schools in the area. They’re biting at the bit for us to run it every year!”

The session links culture to movements about animals, movement of the land, gestures which communicate relationships, all towards making it not just about the past but about today so that children will find it relevant. 

“It’s also about giving them a stronger sense of ownership and developing that.”

Running the session were respected indigenous dancers Jordan O’Davis (who recently danced with Hugh Jackman, and harks her beginnings back to the NSW Public Schools Aboriginal Dance Company) and Sonny Townson (formerly of Bangarra Dance Company). 

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