After months of rehearsals and fundraising, the inspired and energetic members of Wagana Aboriginal Dancers are making their second overseas trip in less than 12 months. The first was to the Commonwealth Youth Dance Festival in Scotland, last July. This time it is school age members who are attending Dance and the Child International in Denmark. They will perform another original work, Sum of my Ancestors, which is grounded in traditional culture. The production is supported by many others, including Bangarra Dance Theatre and NAISDA Dance College. Arts NSW has provided financial support
The Wagana Aboriginal Dancers are the Blue Mountains national and international touring Aboriginal women and girls dance company. They honour and respect the Darug, Gundungurra and Wiradjuri peoples as the traditional custodians of the lands they dance on and proudly share their love of dance, culture and storytelling at many festivals and events. “Wagana” means to dance in Wiradjuri language and their shows weave together traditional and contemporary movement, imagery and song. See Sum of my Ancestors before they go to Denmark at Bankstown Arts Centre, Friday June 5, at 12.30pm and at Kindlehill, Wentworth Falls School of Arts, Saturday, June 27, at 5pm. Phone 0409 651 290, or click Wagana Dancers.
Hard on the heels of Struggle Street comes a film seen in Parramatta in 2013, made by young people in the Illawarra region from similarly disadvantaged backgrounds to those in Struggle Street. Rites of Passage gave the young people involved the chance to create stories about their lives in the way they wanted to tell them. It is an amazing work, cobbled together from images that are black and white, colour, infra-red, grainy and super 8. It begins in chaos, but settles to cohesive storytelling of an amalgam of different experiences of the young participants. They each play roles created from a combination of their stories which has led to some illuminating results. The first principle of the non-profit production company Beyond Empathy is to assist people living with hardship build new futures. The crew in action in the photo, above.
After three years spent in making the film, it was clear in 2013 that the young people who stood on stage after the screening had gained skills, confidence and a clear sense of direction in their lives. Since then Rites of Passage has won a series of awards at international film festivals and a sense of pride in their achievement has grown, too. Now the film is to screen on ABC1, Sunday, June 28, at 10.30pm. Mark it in your diary and make sure you see it. It’s an inspiration. Click here to find out more about the making of the film and Beyond Empathy. Above, Lakia Igano accepts the jury award for Rites of Passage at Warsaw Film Festival.