1988 Community Dance Program - Brown's Mart
Darwin, Katherine, Lajamanu
Throughout the year, 1988
1988 is where we as Tracks Dance Company go back to for the start our specific history. This year a series of joint projects brought together dance artist Sarah Calver and visual artist Tim Newth. Their work began to create a style that utilised dance with strong visuals, worked in both urban and remote situations, used many diverse dance forms, with dancers and non-dances, looked at multi-generational performers, combined the professional with the ametuer, and performed in both theatre and in outdoor settings. This was a start of what became signature Tracks' performances and activities.
Prior to this there had been dance in Darwin under many guises such as Maggi’s Dance Mob (community dance and classes run by Maggi Phillips, Brown’s Mart community dance, and Feats Unlimited (a dance-in-education company run by Maggi Phillips.)
With the closing of Feats Unlimited (resident in Darwin from 1979-1987), dance in the Territory took a back seat with respect to Community Arts. Without Feats Unlimited, the contact with professional dancers, teachers and choreographers looked limited. Brown’s Mart Community Arts and Ausdance NT looked to suggestions as to what directions they could take. The main aim was to salvage a vestige of explorative, committed and informed contemporary dance in the Northern Territory – work which had been developed over the previous ten years through Maggi Phillips. The small population and relative isolation in Darwin meant that in reality there was a void of professional and informed Contemporary dance teaching. There was a need for a skilled person to be available to fulfil immediate needs, to seize opportunities as they presented themselves, and to create new opportunities.
A new Brown’s Mart Community Arts position of Community Dance Artist was taken up by Sarah Calver, (a previous member of Feats Unlimited). This role immediately gained positive response from the community and extended Sarah her role as teacher, leader, initiator, and creator within the various resources of the community. This position was only for 7 months, and only one person. There is a limit to what dance companies may tour to the Northern Territory, and the input from outsiders is small. It was a recommendation from this residency that a permanent job be created, shared so that the remote areas of the Northern Territory, once serviced by Feats Unlimited, could also be included, and share the excitement that comes from working with skilled artists.
Visual Artist Tim Newth had already established a reputation in Victoria and Tasmania for his animated large-scale visuals that integrated with dancers. He was also well versed in community-based work. He travelled to Darwin to work on a show called Sky Song with artists Sarah Hopkins, Beth Shelton and Ian Ferguson, and Alan Lam. He was quickly given offers of work through Brown's Mart Community Arts working with Corrugated Iron Youth Theatre, and with Neil Cameron. This made his decision to stay in Darwin easy.
As the Community Dance Artist, Sarah ran a program that included:
- Participation classes and workshops - Darwin Dance Mob. A range of community dance classes that had been operating under Feats Unlimited. (Originally this group was called Maggi's Mob in 1976 named after Maggi Phillips who was freelancing in Darwin. It was renamed Dance Mob in 1978 under the programming of Brown's Mart Community Arts.) Performs at various events around town.
- Dance Theatre - working with other companies such as Corrugated Iron Youth Theatre to add dance elements into theatre productions.
- Education - work in various schools
- Community Dance Performances - Large in scale, mixed abilities, styles, and numerous choreographers and community arts workers, sometimes outdoors.
In 1998 there were several projects that planted the seeds for the future, namely:eral projects that planted the seeds for the future, namely:
Living in Isolation tour that began a relationship with the Warlpiri community of Lajamanu.
Dance Feast and Dance on Darwin - large outdoor performances with mixed ages, cultures and dance styles. This was also the start of the Older Adults group that continued on to become the Grey Panthers.
Community Dance Artist: Sarah Calver
Visual Artist: Tim Newth
Predominantly working with Corrugated Iron Youth Theatre encouraging the integration of theatre and movement. Living in Isolation, The Final Ingredient ,and Black Rainbow were all productions with seasons at Brown’s Mart Theatre.
Community Dance - classes, rehearsals, small one off performances.
The aim of the classes was to provide access to dance skills regardless of age, gender, race, size, or social strata. Classes were offered in various techniques and styles, and engendered enthusiasm and confidence, and provided avenues for the creation of new and original works. The choreography was relevant to the community, and assisting in developing a Northern Territory identity. The Darwin Dance Mob performed at many events especially the monthly Mixtures at the Mart (a platform for local artists to showcase their work.)
Sarah organised a dance display for the Youth expo run by radio station 8DN (December 4) Held at the Foskey pavilion, Darwin Show Grounds. Performances included: Darwin Dance Mob (Modern dance), Darwin School of Ballet (classical pieces), Palmerston School of Ballet (modern Duet), Dance Connection (jazz and Tap), Dance-Time Studio (ballroom), Corrugated Iron youth Theatre (excerpts from Black Rainbow, A work in progress), 8DN Rock Eisteddfod.
Education - Work In Schools
Henbury Avenue Special School – 15 students and their music Therapist (Lilo Braun) – created two pieces.
Casuarina Secondary College. Years 11 and 12 (under the classical ballet teacher Lily Vita).
Other schools included: Jabiru Area School, Driver High School, Sanderson High, Dripstone high, Nightcliff High, Katherine High, Katherine South, McFarlane Primary and Darwin High. Support was offered through assistance to courses, choreographic skills, dance/theatre workshops and encouraging school groups to participate in other activities such as the Rock Eisteddfod.
The level of dance expertise in schools is limited. Four of the teachers attended Dance Mob Classes to further their knowledge.
Dance Development Office: Sarah Calver
[Under Brown’s Mart Community Arts – Executive Officer Ken Conway]