“Kermit just wants to sing, dance and make people happy,” he said, “and that’s what I want to do.”
David and Michael were talking about a project David undertook with members of the Active Over 50s Fitness Group that works out regularly at Eagle Vale Central swimming pool. Birthing Things in the Spirit: The Water Birth was presented at the pool on Saturday, November 30, 2013.
Present with David in the conversation were Jenny Blackburn who leads the fitness group and another member Gwen Prohm. From their comfortable exchanges it was clear that a warm and relaxed friendship had grown up between them as they worked with David to bring his ideas to fruition.
David explained that even in childhood, he was birthing things, walking around the living room with a pillow for his belly, practising his pregnant wobble. In developing Birthing Things in the Spirit, he consulted a midwife, who proved to be former dancer. He learned “there is a reason for pain and it’s worth it”.
He was inspired by the work of Australian-born actor and swimmer Annette Kellerman in the early 1900s and by the Hollywood swimming star Esther Williams from the 1940s and 50s. Moving through water, discussing water births and sharing their pleasure in movies and soundtracks were all part of the project’s development and the group’s bonding.
David acknowledges that there are three distinguishing characteristics to much of his performance work – his belly, which “carries the weight of responsibility”, the hand of friendship inspired by the Campbelltown train passenger Elizabeth and the white clothing he wears to “become the gallery wall”.
When asked if he becomes a different character when performing, he said no, he becomes a “heightened David with purpose”. Although there was passionate intent in his performance, with his own powerful chanting and the carefully rehearsed choreography, there was an undeniable sense of fun pervading the entire event.
Fitness group members enjoyed the experience enormously and many really “came out of their shells”, they said. For David, it was similarly great fun, but very important that he continues to be engaged with the community.
Birthing Things in the Spirit: The Water Birth was undertaken for David’s Master’s degree, but he rejects any suggestion that his involvement might cease, once he graduates. The focus of much of his work is community engagement and sharing. His little dachshund dog Teena, who features in a lot of his work is far from a gimmick, but an important way of drawing people into participation.
In Susannah Wimberley’s photos David, top, is surrounded by Fitness Group members assisting the birth and below, flourishes his Ministry of Handshakes as they celebrate the birthing.