Look, can you see her dancing it up?

Diana Carroll

NAISDA Dance College and Carriageworks present StoryPlace.
Look, can you see her dancing it up?

Image supplied

NAISDA Dance College will showcase the next generation of Indigenous dancers and choreographers in its 2018 Sydney Season StoryPlace at Carriageworks from November 21-24. This exciting new work features powerful choreography celebrating the Indigenous female creative force inherent in the community and alive within the spirit of young Indigenous women today.

StoryPlace embodies the 2018 NAIDOC theme, “Because of her, we can!” and celebrates this amazing shift to recognising and acknowledging the role and contribution of Indigenous women,’ said Frances Rings, Head of Creative Studies at NAISDA and Director of StoryPlace.

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Rings is a NAISDA alumnus who went on to a successful career with Bangarra Dance Theatre, making her mainstage debut in 2002 to outstanding critical acclaim. She has directed a number of NAISDA’s end-of-year productions and is delighted to be back for StoryPlace.

The production features guest choreography by Deborah Brown, another former Bangarra dancer, and the celebrated Māori choreographer Louise Potiki Bryant, along with NAISDA’s own cohort of students, known as Developing Artists. Together they weave traditional stories of people and place through the contemporary voice of now. ‘We also welcome back NAISDA Alumni and esteemed New South Wales cultural dancer, Matthew Doyle, who will be leading our cultural performances in this year’s end of year production,’ said Rings.

‘The Sydney season embodies the creative culmination of our Developing Artists’ journeys. It signals the start of a new adventure as they continue the NAISDA legacy and embark upon careers that will see them engaging in all areas of our creative arts industry from community and independent practice to working full time in a professional company.’

There will be just five performances of StoryPlace at Carriageworks. For tickets and booking information, go to carriageworks.com.au/events/naisda-2018. Two performances, the preview night and the Saturday matinee, are reserved for community members, industry guests, and the Developing Artists’ families, some of whom travel from remote areas to share in this special moment.

‘The community performances are my favourite,’ said Rings. ‘The community has seen our evolution over the years and been there for all the big changes. They tend to be very vocal and let you know immediately what they like. It’s always a very vibrant night!’

NAISDA’s broader role as a “Story Place”

Beyond this end-of-year production, NAISDA is proud of its broader role in the community as a “Story Place”. For over 40 years NAISDA has danced, shared, and celebrated Australia’s Indigenous knowledge, stories, song and language. It began in 1975 as a six-week workshop at the Black Theatre in Redfern and has grown to its status today as one of Australia’s most innovative arts training organisations. NAISDA now enjoys a prominent and unrivalled role in our nation’s cultural and creative life.

Following the 2018 Season at Carriageworks, NAISDA staff will prepare for the arrival of aspiring Indigenous dancers from around the country who will audition for the 2019 intake. ‘We are expecting dozens of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people to come to NAISDA’s campus for the December auditions,’ said Rings.

Life at NAISDA is creative and exciting but it’s also hard work for the Developing Artists with a rigorous training program and high expectations. This is balanced with a real sense of family and community, including local Home Stays for some students, and an embedded program of holistic support for all. ‘NAISDA offers them an opportunity to train intensely and acquire the tools and skills to communicate through dance their stories, from historical to contemporary life,’ said Rings.

NAISDA Developing Artists; image supplied.

Naya Wa Yugali

Planning for the future, NAISDA is taking the next steps toward a major capital infrastructure expansion. Plans are well underway for the development of an International Cultural and Creative Learning precinct to be called Naya Wa Yugali, meaning ‘we dance’ in Darkinjung language. NAISDA is located on Darkinjung land at Mt Penang, on the NSW Central Coast, and the new precinct will be located adjacent to the existing campus.

Naya Wa Yugali will significantly expand the arts training and career pathways for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It will also allow NAISDA to share the richness of our country’s First Nations’ cultures nationally and internationally through collaboration, outreach, engagement, and performance.

‘Naya Wa Yugali will be an international gathering place where we will come together to meet and exchange ideas, knowledge, and skills. A place where we can maintain and grow our exceptional student completion rates and attendance. It will be both future focussed and embedded in connection to Country,’ said Rings.

NAISDA and the NAISDA Foundation are currently working hard to make the new Cultural and Creative Learning Centre a reality. There is more information available at naisda.com.au/support-us/our-new-home/ and an opportunity to pledge your support for this important project.

Songlines Summer Appeal

NAISDA also invites everyone with an interest in the arts and Indigenous culture to support its annual fundraising campaign. The 2018 Songlines Summer Appeal recognises that artistic success, achievement, creative performance, and graduating student is made possible through the generosity of someone’s philanthropy.

Launching at the start of NAISDA’s 2018 Sydney season, Songlines invites you to be part of that lineage of ‘paying it forward’ so that the next wave of Indigenous creatives is able to experience the richness of a NAISDA education and keep the continuum of our cultures alive through dance, song, stories and performance for all Australians.

Visit www.givenow.com.au/NAISDA to donate to the Songlines summer appeal.

About the author

Dr Diana Carroll is a writer, speaker, and reviewer based in Adelaide. Her work has been published in newspapers and magazines including the SMH, the Oz, Woman's Day, and B&T. Writing about the arts is one of her great passions.