Four students and one graduate from the NAISDA Dance college at Kariong featured in NT Dance Company’s production Forbidden at the Darwin Entertainment Centre on September 3 and 4.

Students James Boyd, Brianna Kemmerling and Kiara Malcolm and 2020 graduate Chandler Connell took part in the production, which was a cross-cultural, cross-border collaboration between NT Dance Company, NAISDA Dance College, West Australian Ballet and traditional Yolngu artists from Miku Performing Arts, based in East Arnhem Land.

Supported by the Federal Government’s RISE Initiative, this collaboration has enabled NAISDA students to train, learn and perform with NT Dance Company in Darwin as part of a unique secondment and professional development program.

A NAISDA spokesperson said the collaboration between the dance college and NT Dance Company began in March this year when NAISDA welcomed Larrakia man, NAISDA graduate and Artistic Director of NT Dance Company Gary Lang, for a three-week Artist-in-Residency at its campus on NSW Darkinjung Land.

NT Dance Company’s production of Forbidden
Photo: Duane Preston

“An internationally recognised choreographer, dancer, artist and teacher, Gary was joined by two senior NT Dance Company members, Millie and Triki,” the spokesperson said.

“Together they worked with NAISDA students to develop the creative process, share cultural learning and exchange.

“Following the Artist-in-Residency, James, Brianna and Kiara flew out to Darwin in June just prior to lockdown, for their 10-week secondment with the Company.”

NAISDA CEO, Kim Walker, said he was thrilled with the experience and learning opportunities the unique collaboration created for NAISDA’s Advanced Diploma students.

“The program was designed to develop and equip emerging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists with authentic company experience and strong connections into the professional dance industry,” he said.

“We are very grateful to Gary and his team for equipping our students with new skills and experiences.

“It has been wonderful to witness their development and creative journeys unfold.”

Participant James Boyd said the experience had been challenging but extremely rewarding.

“We covered a lot with Gary – connection with each other, learning solos and partnering,” he said.

“We also spent time on understanding the feeling of a particular moment and how to carry that feeling into our movements.

“It was such an awesome opportunity to learn from someone like Gary who has a really unique style of blending partnering, ballet and contemporary with Indigenous dance.

Media release, Sep 3