By Melissa Blewitt
Wiradjuri dance teacher and choreographer, Jo Clancy, visited Condobolin to conduct the first SkyFest: miima warrabinya dance workshop for local women and girls at the Wiradjuri Study Centre on Monday, 12 April.
Around a dozen girls and women of all ages participated in the first workshop. During this workshop Jo taught the women and girls a beautiful dance she called Giralang Bundinya, or Shooting Star, and showed them how to make emu feather ‘sky-whisks’ to evoke Dinawan, the Celestial Emu who can be seen in the dark clouds of the Milky Way. Becky Merritt and Marion Wighton-Packham will be organising weekly practice sessions for the dance troupe between Jo’s monthly visits to Condobolin. “The dancing is about connection,” Becky explained. “Connection between mothers and daughters and connection to Country.” The organisers are hoping that many more will attend future sessions. “We’d especially like to encourage teenage girls and young mums to come along,” they stated. Jo will be visiting the Wiradjuri Study Centre every month to work with local dancers until Condo SkyFest is held on the first weekend in September. The Condo dancers will make their public debut at SkyFest with a program of original dances choreographed by Jo.
She is an accomplished choreographer and contemporary Aboriginal dance teacher, who has worked with dozens of First Nations groups as an independent dancer and choreographer and developed dance works and education projects for festivals and events throughout Australia and overseas. She is closely associated with the NAISDA Dance College. (NAISDA stands for National Aboriginal and Islander Skills Development Association.) She is also the founder and director of Wagana Dancers, and has her own dance studio in the Blue Mountains.
The dance classes are funded by the Australian Government through the Regional Arts Fund and are free to attend. Contact Jo for some personal comments about her hopes for the Condo dancers: firstname.lastname@example.org