The Grounds of Frog Hollow Centre for the Arts, Darwin City
October 25 - 29, 2006
Six Cultural Backyards
An outdoor performance involving six Darwin based cultural dance groups. Performed in two sections, within different sites. The first site was divided into six different backyards, highlighting each of the six groups. The second, performed in the round, presented an integrated dance work with origins from Ireland, Greece, Philippines, China, Pacific Islands and Sri Lanka.
In May 2005 Tracks directed the main act of the ARAFURA GAMES OPENING CEREMONY. Within this 35-minute spectacular, with over 400 dancers, was a section we called the Cultural Explosion. Six local dance groups with origins from Ireland, Greece, Philippines, China, Pacific Islands and Sri Lanka created movement to the same track of music. There was enormous goodwill between groups and interest in how different cultures went about creating new dance. Most of the groups only knew each other from passing in the dressing rooms at a performance. This is where the seed for WITHOUT SEA sprouted.
As Darwinites, we were interested in concepts that linked these six groups. We drew on ancient ideas of a great family of land called ‘Gondwana’ when our geological relatives included India, Sri Lanka, Africa, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and New Zealand. In this time of Gondwana Land there was no sea to divide lands. Darwin is our world WITHOUT SEA known for its rich interaction of cultures.
As the work developed, ideas became more and more localised. The audience was first guided through six different Darwin backyards, the only thing dividing each being the cyclone fence. In the second they entered a new space. Here the fences are dismantled and a dialogue across the backyards begins.
" WITHOUT SEA highlights how cultural dance connects the Darwin community by strengthening relationships and awareness. In a small city that has many different cultures living side by side the importance of maintaining identity is heightened, as is the importance of educating one another of our differences and similarities. WITHOUT SEA is a beautiful example of how Darwin Dance is unique to the rest of Australia and through this performance Tracks has given us an avenue to celebrate our diversity - side by side." Julia Gray
“Understanding is locked within our bodies. We move and dance together, celebrating in different ways. We can learn each others’ languages to assist communication; we can also learn about each others’ dances and come to a deeper physical understanding of connections to each other.” David McMicken
“Dance is a medium of communication and expression, represented by different styles and immensely influenced by different cultures. Being engaged in WITHOUT SEA has reinforced how uniquely multi-cultural Australia is, in particular the Northern Territory. The performers were able to converse and understand one another through animated dance and were acceptingly open to learning each other’s cultural styles of dance. The result is a web of dancers distinctly different yet symbolic of one whole – a world WITHOUT SEA.” Chandrika, Piyum, & Ujith
“There is a vibrancy that emanates from a people who take pride in the practice of their native culture. This practice is not for ogling at, nor is it for academic examination. It is a celebration that calls for participation, inclusion and a shared sense of community pride.” Betchay Mondragon
“Give dancers a theme or a rhythm and steps will flow, cutting across cultural divides and dance styles. The smorgasbord of cultures and styles in our community provides a delightful spectacle of music, costumes and steps when performed. WITHOUT SEA brings together some of these cultures to perform a show, while providing a platform for meeting new people and learning a little of different cultures.” Bridgeen Marron
“For the last few years I have been interested in making a piece called ‘not my country’. I am interested in what it means to be a non Indigenous Australian. Working on WITHOUT SEA has reminded me that most Australians’ ancestry comes from elsewhere. It’s made me rethink the meaning of multiculturalism and where I place myself within this.” Tim Newth
“It is amazing to see how easily the performing arts can draw cultural groups together, portraying respect and understanding of each other. Each dance has its story to tell, formed & arisen through years of world history, giving an insight into the meaning of life in their own cultural interpretation of dance. Understanding each culture makes it easier to combine the traditional dancers. Some of our stories are similar and have the obvious feelings in mind; such as love, prosperity, war and the joy of celebration.” Poppy Kathopoulis
“Our form of dance has been founded for use in religious occasions and as such is rarely performed with any other dance forms. WITHOUT SEA has allowed me to open up boundaries, sharing and learning along with like minded people to form something quite unique. This celebration of our cultural heritage symbolises our ability to co-exist and truly characterises a world WITHOUT SEA.” David Chin
Directors and Choreographers: David McMicken and Tim Newth
Guest Choreographers: Bridgeen Marron, Betchay Mondragon, Esperanza Estelle Quindara, David Chin, Chandrika Munusinghe, Poppy Kathopoulis and Julia Gray
Production and Promotion Personnel
Production and Stage Manager: Kelly Blumberg
Lighting Designer and Operator: Reuben Hopkins
Sound Engineer and Composer: Matthew Cunliffe
Costumes: Elys Spanol, Lousie Reick, Tracey Mepham and Sumana Perera
Promotion: Fiona Carter
Publicity: Tony Collins
Poster Image and Design: Mark Marcelis
Front of House Manager: Mary Anne Butler
Irish: Bridgeen Marron, Rosie O'Reilly, Siobhan Evans, Eliousa Edwards, Owen Spencer, Alex Götze and Shawnee Mepham (members of Rince Na Eireann)
Greek: Poppy Kathopoulis, Alex Hatzivalsamis and Chrissa Skandaliaris
Pacific Island: Julia Gray, Yolanda Gray, Indira Jones, Paia Juste-Constant, Erma Muller and Pamela Maclean (members of Sunameke and Kiribati Multicultural Association
Filipino: Betchay Mondragon, Esperanza Estelle Quindara, Vera Tabuzo and Susana Lu-Dizon, Angie Cope
Chinese: David Chin, Rohan Chin, Zac Chan, Lian Low, Rochelle Chin and Nathan Tam (members of Chung Wah Society Lion and Dragon Troupe)
Sri Lankan: Chandrika Munusinghe, Piyum Perera and Ujith Perera
- ACT 1: Six Darwin Backyards
- ACT 2: Conversations over the Fence
Artistic Directors: David McMicken and Tim Newth
General Manager: Fiona Carter
Dance Animateur: Julia Quinn
Youth Dance Animateur: Erwin Fenis
Administrative Assistant: Skye Raabe
Bookkeeper: Julie Stark
Development Consultant: Suzanne Fermanis
Committee Members: (Chair) Jill MacAndrew, (Vice-Chair) Jackie Wurm (Treasurer) Glenn Bernardin, (Secretary/Public Officer) Traci Keys, (Ordinary Committee Members) David Taylor, Ken Conway, Nick Papandonakis, Donna Quong, (Ex-Officio Members) David McMicken and Tim Newth
Public Fund Trustees: Rev. Steve Orme, Dr Anita Toth, Paul Wan
“The warmth generated by our close experience with the dancers in the first half set up the strong sense of engagement with the bigger performance in the second half. It seemed a clever juxtaposition and a beautiful balance. Visually, it was as rich as a kaleidoscope and more fascinating. By the end one wanted to cheer and I think we did. The real delight was that it was a very democratic form of human expression. The performers were all shapes and sizes, different costumes, different movement styles but they all seemed to make an equally important contribution."
"I feel the production had something to say but did not overstate its theme and never risked losing sight of its immense value as a brilliantly colourful and energetic entertainment. We came out feeling we had seen something individual and important — a celebration of the human-ness of culture and the catalytic beauty and synergy of sharing”.
“WITHOUT SEA transported me to the real possibility of a better world. Watching the show, I found myself inside a world without conflict or racism, and it has made me more determined to do my part in helping to create that world."
"For me, WITHOUT SEA was visually spectacular, emotionally engaging and highly political. It spoke to high levels of artistic excellence, and was also well organised in terms of production processes”.
“WITHOUT SEA bore all the characteristics for which Tracks has earned local and national distinction. It brought together a large cast of predominantly community-based performers to tell an uplifting story of cultural difference and collaboration through the language of dance. It also featured the successful transformation of a hitherto ‘dormant’ outdoor space, and the production’s technical aspects were both seamless and sophisticated —what one would expect from a company of such longstanding professional practice. On all these counts it was satisfying to have one’s expectations well met, and easy to walk away from the production with a reinforced sense of the company’s relevance, reputation and ethos. Yet as satisfying as the production was on many artistic and conceptual levels, I did also leave with a sense of wanting more and with mixed feelings towards the idea of ‘more of the same."