Rekindling is a part of Bangarra’s Youth Program, which is headed by former professional dancer Sidney Saltner. The program travels to communities to work closely with elders and youth to rekindle local stories, teach the youth how to take those stories and make them into contemporary dance pieces and finally perform those pieces in front of their community.
Sidney, who danced for Bangarra for 15 years, says that the inaugural program last year was well received and had a very positive impact on troubled and disinterested youth, with Bangarra visiting the community three times to help build rapport and trust.
“Being a new program, people weren’t quite sure what to expect, some of the elders were thinking ‘what are these mob up to?’”
“The aim was trying to break new ground. We are trying to touch on stories that are special to them and yet we are outsiders coming in to the community. Towards the end when (the elders) could see the change in the kids, they became interested and started sharing their stories,” Sidney says.
Sidney sees the program as being vitally important in a cultural sense.
“Kids these days are so disconnected from traditional stories and their heritage and that ‘s why we decided (on this program), as from our experiences travelling across the country, we saw that kids are all in to Hip Hop and stuff like that which is great, but they are losing all the cultural heritage,” Sidney says.
“As these young kids are the future leaders of this country, we need to get out in to the communities and start rekindling those stories.
“They look at this stuff as being ‘old’ and ‘the past’ but we say to them; this is your job you need to learn (these stories) and bring them in to the future with you.”
Rekindling will be led with the help of five former Bangarra dancers, including Patrick Thaiday, Gina Rings and Barbra Drummond. This year they will be travelling to Nowra, Wollongong, Lismore & Coffs Harbour in NSW and also Theodore, Beaudesert, Weipa and Cairns in QLD.
One day auditions will be held in each community to help uncover the most dynamic dancers.
The audition is an all day workshop process, where dancers are taken through a normal class like ballet or contemporary and judged on flexibility & strength. The next section, repertoire, is where they will be taught part of a Bangarra routine and then asked to perform to see how much they listen and take on, and the third part is improvisation where dancers are able to showcase their creativity.
Sidney says that he is looking forward to continuing the program this year, seeing the changes in kids was a very special experience for him.
“You could see that this (program) makes a difference to a lot of these kids in regional communities. They have something they can connect to.”
For more information and to register for Rekindling CLICK HERE.