BlakDance 2012 festival in Brisbane highlighted a wonderful range of contemporary Indigenous dance from Australia and New Zealand.
Choreographers, dancers, industry members and audiences came together to celebrate and gain a deeper understanding of contemporary Indigenous dance practice.
Six leading choreographers from Australia and New Zealand created a diverse program of contemporary Indigenous dance, beautifully performed and produced, and cheered on by appreciative audiences.
Rita Pryce (Baiwa Dance Company), Tammi Gissell (Figures of Speech) and Albert David (Torres Strait) represented the Australian independent choreographers. The New Zealanders were Ojeya Cruz Banks (originally from Guam, and the forum’s keynote speaker), Jack Gray (Atamira Dance Collective) and Cathy Livermore (Maori).
The industry forum, expertly chaired by Marilyn Miller, was illuminating and challenging. It began with a keynote speech by choreographer, dancer and anthropologist Ojeya Cruz Banks, who talked about where dance comes from and what it can do. She defined it as ‘the embodiment of intention’ and ‘the language of the soul’.
The panel discussed their connections with audiences and the challenge of communicating; performing in contemporary spaces when land is so important; permissions and breaking protocols; family histories and the things that build culture.
The forum was definitely one of the highlights of BlakDance 2012. The breadth and depth of the discussion also informed the diverse program of contemporary dance and story telling which inspired real engagement by the audience—a rare event in Australian contemporary dance performance!
The week culminated in a celebratory party at which Leigh Warren was announced as BlakDance’s new patron. Leigh’s employment and mentoring of young professional Indigenous artists is well known, and led to his selection as one of Creating Pathway’s keynote speakers in 2005.
BlakDance 2012 was created by BlakDance Australia's CEO Tiina Alinen. The event was held at Queensland Theatre Company in Brisbane with support of artistic director Wesley Enoch.