By Rain Francis.
What’s going on in the wider dance community? Dance Informa looks at two current projects – coincidentally both involving the name Alice – that aim to inspire and move regional Australia.
Alice Can Dance
The ever-busy 2nd Toe Dance Collective have been working on a project called Alice Can Dance, involving 250 students from 10 schools in Alice Springs. Adam Wheeler, Frankie Snowdon and Maddy Krenek have teamed up with Megan Adair, who lives in Alice and has been working as an intern on the project. The group have visited each school over a six-week period to make a contemporary dance show. At the conclusion of the six weeks, they will have one day in the Araluen Theatre to bring the kids together and perform.
“We use video and interviewing a lot to bring a particular insight to the kids that compliments the dance,” says Wheeler. “Last year we sold out the 500-seat theatre and this year we expect to sell out so quickly that we are planning on streaming online.”
The work takes sci-fi as an access point, to examine the human condition in regards to acceptance and understanding of one another. The cast is 50 percent indigenous kids, but, says Wheeler, 2ndToe “prefers to look at all young people and their responsibility to accept, understand and care for each other. This is the second Alice Can Dance and it is super important to us that the overall tone of the project is inspiring and positive. We want every child to walk away with a great sense of accomplishment and pride.”
Alice Can Dance has been funded by the Department of Education and the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress. It will be presented on Tuesday, September 17.
The Alice Project
Ausdance Victoria has just launched The Alice Project, a program designed to get regional Victorians moving. Delivered during 2013 and 2014, The Alice Project invites all people, regardless of age or activity levels, to get moving in a “fun, free and non-judgmental way. As an ‘arts on tour’ program and community celebration, its goal is to activate and involve communities, to inspire curiosity and create a new found love of movement.”
Based on the themes and characters of the literary classic Alice in Wonderland, this major event comprises four main chapters. In Down the Rabbit Hole, Ausdance Victoria will host free, dance story-time sessions in local libraries. Created for two to five year olds and their caretakers/parents, these sessions will include games and activities based on Alice’s amazing adventures.
Designed for kids of all ages and abilities, A Hatters Tea Party comprises various free tea parties in each municipality. This “extraordinary un-birthday event” comes complete with outrageously large teapots, ridiculous hats and party games.
In the spirit of “not minding where our footsteps lead us,” Follow the Footsteps is an event that allows participants to create an installation of footsteps. Ausdance Victoria invites volunteers to participate at their own leisure, developing confidence in their own time, by using various patterns such as long strides, wide legged walks, straight lines, circles and zig zags, and even the waltz, cha cha and samba.
In The Lobster Quadrille, participants will “join a local brass band playing a cool bossa nova and dive into an ‘on masse’ infectious dance from Alice in Wonderland.” This event will connect with local community festivals.
These unique, inventive affairs are only the beginning of what The Alice Project will offer. Amongst other things, Ausdance Victoria also plans to provide various online resources, such as ‘how to’ videos and music, which will be accessible to everyone.
“The Alice Project provides free, vibrant and unique ways to get people moving together,” says Dr Katrina Rank, The Alice Project Creative Director at Ausdance Victoria. “We don’t care how well you dance; it’s all about taking part, no matter your location, situation, age or physical ability.”
VicHealth CEO Jerril Rechter adds: “The health benefits of taking part in dance are enormous. We know that taking part in arts activity is a great way to improve physical and mental health and wellbeing. Moving to great music provides us with a creative outlet, an immediate physical workout and is incredibly good fun. It’s also a great way to make new friends.”
This vibrant project is funded by VicHealth’s MOTION program to get Victorians moving through art. It involves partnerships between Ausdance Victoria, VicHealth, local councils, libraries and local community groups across three municipalities: Glenelg Shire (2013), Latrobe City and East Gippsland Shire (2014).
For more information, check out www.facebook.com/TheAusdanceVictoriaAliceProject.
Photo (top): Young students enjoy Alice Can Dance.