Indigenous students from four Catholic Schools Parramatta Diocese (CSPD) schools have enjoyed an unforgettable dance experience after taking part in a series of workshops and performances as part of a special program by The Australian Ballet.
In collaboration with CSPD’s CAPTIVATE Creative and Performing Arts team and Jarara Cultural Centre, The Australian Ballet's Education and Outreach team brought their STEAMDANCE Education Program to Holy Family Primary Emerton, St Francis of Assisi Primary Glendenning, St Michael’s Primary Blacktown and St Monica's Primary Richmond.
Throughout the program, students learnt practical dance and choreographic skills based around a chosen theme, engaging in warmups, storytelling, creative games, dance exercises and learning the tools to make a dance.
“I got to learn new techniques and dance,” said Adelaide, Year 3 student at Holy Family Emerton. “I was able to build my confidence and didn't feel as shy or frightened to perform in front of others.”
“The ballet was fun because we were given an opportunity to express ourselves and our culture,” added Jackson, also in Year 3. “I liked the roles that we had and how we were able to acknowledge the people that came before us.”
The culmination of the workshops saw students from Holy Family Primary Emerton and St Francis of Assisi Glendenning come together at Holy Family’s school hall to perform a dance they created while also enjoying a spectacular performance of The Story of Pomi and Gobba (choreographed by Ella Havelka), performed by The Australian Ballet’s professional dancers.
“This was an amazing opportunity for our students to participate in,” said Margaret Rowan, Holy Family Primary Principal. “The students were able to learn from and dance alongside professional ballet dancers and then enjoy watching the ballet performance. We are very grateful for this opportunity at Holy Family.”
Along with staff, teachers and parents, Elders Aunty Jenny Ebsworth, Aunty Daisy Baker and Aunty Theresa Toms were also in attendance to witness the amazing performances.
"It was truly inspirational to see our students taken on a journey based on this important Wiradjuri Dreamtime story,” said Julie Waddell, Jarara Cultural Centre Lead. “To witness the joy not only on their faces but on those of our Elders and community filled my cup. Through engaging in cultural activities like this our students flourish and demonstrate such pride in who they are as young Aboriginal boys and girls."
The Story of Pomi & Gobba is based on the Wiradjuri Dreamtime story ‘Gobbagumbalun and Pomingalarna’ which is local to the New South Wales city of Wagga Wagga. There is a body of water named ‘Pomingalarna’ after the story, which is known for its chorus of frog cries at night. This adaptation explores current themes that are relevant Australia-wide but is grounded in connection to Wiradjuri Country.
“I liked how we were dancing about a frog and learnt about our culture through song and dance,” said Saphera, Year 3 student at Holy Family Emerton.
The program takes a dance-education approach to learning about STEAM subjects: science, technology, engineering, arts and maths.