Erin-Louise Nash’s 2006 AYDF diary

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Sunday 16 April—The arrival

‘We dance today, for tomorrow’. These were Mathew Doyle’s words of wisdom at the opening of the 2006 Australian Youth Dance Festival.

I can’t believe it has actually started. It was over six months ago when Torsion found out we were going to our second Ausdance festival. After bus problems left us stranded in central Victoria for six hours, all 22 dancers from Cowra, Young and Canawinda were happy to finally be here.

The opening ceremony was an awesome start to what I’m hoping will be a great week in Awesome Horsham!

Monday 17 April

Today was the first official day of the festival and it was a great start!

AYDF participants walking around Mt ArapilesFirst up, we took a 20-minute bus trip to Mt Arapiles, where we spent most of the morning. We were inspired by the Aboriginal culture and heritage that surrounds the rocky mountains, and I got to know the other dancers in my group better. Photo: Buffy Harrison.

It was amazing to see everyone’s different skill level and ability, all about to work together. After returning from the mountain, very windblown, I went to my first taster class with Jeanette Fabila. In this class I learnt how to adapt traditional Aboriginal dance to our modern culture. Dancing to an upbeat Christine Anu song, we did funky emu walks and palm tree movements. It was really enjoyable and Jeanette was fun.

In the forum we chose our favourite parts of the day and represented them with a movement which was really fun.

The evening performance was awesome and really inspiring! Fire dance tomorrow! Can’t wait!

Tuesday 18 April

I woke up this morning with much excitement to finally have the chance to work on the choreographic project.

In this morning’s class, Matt Doyle taught us traditional Aboriginal dances. These included the dance of the brolga spirit and shark. I volunteered to be the ‘caller’ so I got to make funny noises during the dance and lead the group around. I really enjoyed the spirit of the dance, as you could interpret it in your own way. I also loved the way it used high and low levels and today discovered this is an important part of Aboriginal dance. I also found that eye contact and interaction with the other dancers was important in expressing feelings and telling stories.

After a break for lunch, I went to my fire dancing taster class. I have to admit I was quite nervous and it was rather scary in the lead-up to the class, but I kept reminding myself that the festival is about challenging yourself and being open to new experiences. In fire dance we learnt some basic tricks and techniques, then added fire to skills we already had. We choreographed our own pieces, based on our own dance backgrounds, then added fire. My piece was a ballet/contemporary dance and I mainly used fire sticks to get a feel of having longer extended arms.

At the forum in the afternoon, we again worked on our on our ‘Best Of’ solos, then did an activity run by David McMicken that will possibly be used in the finale on Saturday.

The performances tonight were really awesome. One that stood out in particular was a duo that used film projection in the background. I’d really like to do something similar when I get home.

All in all, today was excellent! I discovered more about Aboriginal culture and challenged myself in fire dance. I can’t wait for tomorrow!

Wednesday 19 April

This morning my choreographic group went out to the mountain again, but this time we went to the top, to the lookout. The view was amazing, but the best part was when I had to use the ‘bush’ bathroom … how embarrassing!

My taster this afternoon was hip hop with Nikki Ashby. Not only did she teach us some cool moves, she also taught us about living the hip hop Culture. This got me thinking everyone at the festival lives a dance culture. We’re all passionate about what we do and we all are here to share that passion with each other.

AYDF choreographic mentors and dancers enjoying watching the afternoon forum dance showings.The forum today was the best ever! It made me realise how awesome it is to be a dancer! Everyone joined in for a huge dance off/jam session, with everyone showing off their hottest moves … even the teachers! Photo: Buffy Harrison.

This evenings performance by Restless was awesome! It brought tears to my eyes because of its passion and empowerment. A standing ovation at the end topped off an awesome day!

Thursday 20 April

Today was the most important day of the week for my group … Performance Night! Ahh! After our choreographic workshops we had a tech run through on stage, then spent the afternoon resting and preparing for our performance. We had an early dinner, and pre-performance nerves started setting in, especially for newcomer to dance CJ, who ended up performing awesomely anyway.

We got ourselves psyched up by changing the lyrics of the ‘Awesome Horsham’ song to ‘Give it up for Awesome Torsion!’. The performance went by as a blur but I do remember the audience cheering and clapping along to our pieces.

I’m still undecided about whether it’s better or worse to perform in front of other dancers. It’s worse because they can pick up your faults easier but on the other hand it’s better because they appreciate all the time and effort you put in to creating and rehearsing your performance.

Friday 21 April

Today was the second last day of the festival and we spent most of the day rehearsing for tomorrow night’s show. I had my tap taster with Shonah in the afternoon and it was so much fun! I learnt how to make the simplest step interesting and sound complex.

Once we finished dancing everyone went to the Freeza at Nexus Youth Centre. It was a great night and was really well organised! The bands that played were so awesome and everyone got to show off their dance moves on the floor.

I’m so looking forward to the performance tomorrow night—it’s going to look so great with all the lights and everything!

Saturday 22 April

I can’t believe it! It’s all practically over! Tonight the festival finished with the two performances, and they were awesome!

The day started late with us all having a much-needed sleep in, then heading off to the town hall for our final rehearsals. After an early dinner, everyone got all dressed up in their white gear and got ready to hit the floor. Everyone excitedly awaited the first performance as the audience arrived. As soon as the lights and music started, I had this amazing feeling rush over me. It was then that I really knew that I was a part of something huge! Here I was, hours away from home, performing in a new town, right next to dancers from all over the country! Not only that, but I was dancing beside people from all different dance backgrounds and skill levels.

AYDF 2006 finale performance.Both performances went so well that it was hard to believe we’d only choreographed the pieces a few days earlier. The show looked like we had been rehearsing together for months! Photos: Buffy Harrison

After a huge dance-off at the end of the night, everyone sadly said their goodbyes as we realised most of us would probably never see our new friends again. Back at the caravan park, everyone hit the sack fairly late after staying up for our last night in Horsham.

I’m sad that it’s over, but at the same time I’m looking forward to going home. A big thank you to everyone who organised the festival. I can’t wait until the next one!

Erin-Louise Nash, Torsion Youth Dance Company, Cowra

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