Early Career Residency - Kelly and Caleb 2013
Darwin and Lajamanu
In 2013, Kelly Beneforti and Caleb Patrick where successful in gaining an Early Career Residency grant from the Australia Council for the Arts to undertake a residency at Tracks in order to explore the boundaries between Warlpiri and western-based dance practice. While Warlpiri culture is defined by its laws and strongly bound to its specific custodians, contemporary dance practice has as its foundation a drive to seek new ways of finding.
The inspiration for this residency has its beginnings in the work and philosophy of Milpirri, a project that is the culmination of a long creative relationship between Tracks and the Lajamanu community. For Caleb, Milpirri has been a critical part of his development as a dancer and has encouraged him to explore his Warlpiri identity within his own dance practice. The supportive Milpirri environment has given Caleb the confidence to actively pursue dance opportunities. For Kelly, Milpirri was an opportunity to experience Warlpiri culture with a degree of intimacy and truthfulness that would otherwise not be possible. Working with Caleb was an integral aspect of this experience through his embodiment of Warlpiri values and equally his openness to Western ideas and teachings.
As a host, Tracks provides an environment that has an understanding of the different contexts from which Kelly and Caleb are each arriving at this residency and so work with them towards forging a new pathway that is founded on the Milpirri project but that pursues its own ambitions and outcomes. Tracks as host brings more than 20 years of experience working in cross-cultural environments and a commitment to supporting the development of collaborative work between diverse practitioners in order to find new ways of expressing the contemporary territory identity.
Together Kelly and Caleb will devise movement that is a direct expression of their cultural backgrounds and reflective of their very different paths towards the discovery of dance. The project is a coming together and sharing of experiences, ideas and possibilities, and a chance for a unique creative relationship between Caleb and Kelly to be deepened and fostered by the core values and philosophies of Tracks.
The project is currently still in progress. During the first component, based in Darwin, Kelly and Caleb utilised the company studio space to engage in a process of generating and developing dance material, creatively and critically supported by the Tracks Artistic Directors Tim Newth and David McMicken and Tracks guest artists Jess Devereux and Nick Power. This aspect of the project involved the residents working on solo and duet material, which enabled them to engage in a process from the perspectives of both creators and observers, thereby encouraging reflection, discussion and a multi-faceted collaborative experience.
The second component took place in the remote community of Lajamanu, exploring the potential for new and stronger ways of working together to celebrate Western and Warlpiri cultures alongside one another. In Lajamanu, Kelly and Caleb worked with young people in an afterschool program supported by WYDAC (Mt Theo Program). Kelly also worked with students from the Lajamanu School, teaching dance workshops and choreographing on the students. Kelly and Caleb also presented the material that they develop during the Darwin period to members of the Lajamanu community.
Early Career Practitioners: Caleb Japanangka Patrick and Kelly Beneforti
Caleb Patrick has worked with Tracks as a performer and choreographer since he was a child and is a full-time resident of the Warlpiri community, Lajamanu. Caleb has explored through dance the potential of expressing customary law and practices through contemporary dance forms for Milpirri (a dance performance held in Lajamanu every two years) as well as participating in multi-cultural Tracks performances for the Darwin Festival. As a young man with his own family, Caleb has sought to meet the challenges of living in a remote and poorly resourced community by actively becoming involved in Tracks, which has a more than 20 year history in the Lajamanu.
Caleb is in his mid-twenties and has emerged as one of the young leaders in Lajamanu. An active dancer and participant in all five Milpirris, Caleb is now working towards developing his choreographic skills. Having been recognized by Tracks staff as an outstanding young performer, he was selected to be part of the Youth Dance Leaders program in 2006 and travelled to Horsham for the Youth Dance Festival. He has danced in 2006 Mr Big, 2008 Struck, 2008 Lipstick and Ochre, 2009 Endurance, 2010 The Cook the Queen and the Kelly and 2013 Zombies in the Banyan Tree. Apart from the opportunities to work with Tracks, Caleb has few other avenues for further developing his dance practice and he has shown by his commitment over the past 10 years that he is ready now to work collaboratively and independently with Kelly Beneforti.
Kelly Beneforti is an early career dance artist whose work seeks to draw from her connection to the unique creative life and culture of the Northern Territory as well as her exposure to professional dance artists and dance work in Melbourne. A long history with Tracks has embedded in Kelly an ongoing interest and engagement with community based arts, which sits alongside a more recent experience of and desire to explore, experiment with and strengthen her dance-making practice through improvisation as a tool and as a mode of performance. In her work Kelly aims to investigate more closely the way in which the range of influences in her creative life might cross or converge to inform both the creative process and the work that is produced. This is reflected in her work with Caleb Japanangka Patrick through a necessity to uncover and delve into a shared creative experience that is made richer by their cultural differences.
Kelly gained many experiences with Tracks as a youth dancer and choreographer and as a youth leader in the dance community; however, 2012 saw her return to work with the company professionally for the first time on the Milpirri project. For Kelly, this marked the beginning of the transition from tertiary dance student to professional practicing artist. This year, Kelly will be a collaborator and performer in an independent dance work presented professionally at the You Are Here Festival in Canberra and will work professionally for Drill Performance Company in the creation and presentation of a youth dance work in Hobart as she continues to seek the opportunities that will come to define the early stages of her arts career.
Lajamanu Community Education Centre, Max Agnew, WYDAC (Mt Theo Program), Natalie Sargent
Tracks Inc is assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body; and is proudly sponsored by the Northern Territory Government.
Artistic Co Directors: David McMicken and Tim Newth
General Manager: Susan Congreve
Administrator: Gail Evans
Production Manager: Kelly Blumberg
Bookkeeper: Heather Van Anholt
Committee Members: (Chair) Michael Grant, (Vice-Chair) David Taylor, (Treasurer) Glenn Bernardin, (Secretary/Public Officer) Nick Papandonakis, (Ordinary Committee Members) Ken Conway, Liz Trevaskis, Stephanie Cvirn, (Ex-Officio Members) David McMicken and Tim Newth
Public Fund Trustees: Rev. Steve Orme, Dr Anita Toth, Ippei Okazaki
Patron: Her Honour the Honourable Sally Thomas AM, Administrator of the Northern Territory
"Walking back to the school where I'm staying, Caleb finds me; it's good to check in with him, hard to sense how he is, but he misses Darwin- there's nothing to do here, he says. It reminds me that our experiences of here are different. For me there is escape from desires, ambitions, demands of a Western world, and there is space for sitting, watching, aloneness, community, freedom, quiet. I've been here two days. Caleb has lived here most his life." Kelly Beneforti in Lajamanu.
"I'm exhausted because Japanangka and I have been running a dance jam after school at the rec hall, thanks to Mt Theo. It's an hour and a half of dancing, doing tricks on the mats, spinning kids around, general screaming and chaos. I've got absolutely no clue about where and how to find the structure in it. There were a couple of times when I thought the energy was dissipating and almost packed up but I realised today that sometimes you've just got to stick it out - stay and wait - and eventually more and more kids might feel comfortable about joining in." Kelly Beneforti in Lajamanu.