Friday, June 22, 2012

Sydney Region Dance Festival

The Sydney Region Dance festival has been on this week. Matilda performed in an item.

The creativity on display is markedly, and refreshingly, different from the kind of dance you see at local dance schools and on music videos. No skimpy costumes. No bump and grind. No exploitation. Just lots of ideas well expressed.

There were pieces about Willy Wonka, mirrors, about having a cold (performed in pyjamas), about the daily life of Buddhist monks (based on yoga poses), the song Naughty from the new musical Matilda (written by Tim Minchin), a dance about Schindler’ List, and one about the Olympics. From a program for an earlier night’s show there was a piece called Where’ Wally and a dance to Bjork’s It’s Oh So Quiet.

The local performing dance school was a stand-out. The primary schools had a mix of girls and boys performing, expected to dance equally well. Some of the high schools just had girls dancing, and the standard was excellent. The biggest disappointment was from a primary school that put up a group of boys performing a piece about football. There was no dancing involved. Movement and poses. Low expectations. And they received the loudest cheers from the audience. I don’t understand. Boys are celebrated for just turning up at a dance event. But shouldn’t we expect them to, you know, dance?

I’ll definitely be attending these in future years, with or without my children being involved, and encourage dance teachers to go too.

The festival is organised by The Arts Unit. The Arts Unit organise opportunities for students from NSW public schools to be involved in programs for dance, drama, music, visual arts and public speaking. They also run professional development programs for teachers. To sign a petition protesting against the proposed funding cuts, sign here.

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