Dance star’s nostalgic Leap back

 “IT’S nice to go back to Canberra and create for the kids again,” says dancer and choreographer Daniel Riley McKinley, whose work, “Scar”, has recently been seen in Bangarra’s “Blak” performance.

The increasingly ubiquitous McKinley is talking about quite a different show, the youth dance production “Hit the Floor Together”, coming soon to The Playhouse.

Dancer and choreographer Daniel Riley McKinley... “I used to love going in on Sundays and rehearsing and just being around like-minded people who also wanted to move and dance.” Photo Lorna Sim

Dancer and choreographer Daniel Riley McKinley… “I used to love going in on Sundays and rehearsing and just being around like-minded people who also wanted to move and dance.” Photos by Lorna Sim

According to Ruth Osborne, the artistic director of the hosting company QL2, the idea was to get young people “to appreciate each other and what they can do, embracing the styles of dance that they are good at”.

McKinley created the production working alongside Osborne, as well as Deon Hastie of Adelaide’s Kurruru Youth Performing Arts company and independent choreographer Dean Cross.

The performers will include current members of QL2’s youth ensemble Quantum Leap, in which Cross and McKinley became friends in 2011. This year the “leapers” will be joined by a cast of other young dancers of indigenous heritage, brought together from Cowra, Melbourne and Byron Bay, from Kurruru in Adelaide and from Hastie’s alma mater, NAISDA Dance College in Gosford, NSW.

“It’s celebrating individuality and who these kids are, where they fit in a modern day society,” says McKinley.

The youth production is the result of McKinley’s urge to give something back to the Canberra community, and bring dancers from indigenous and non-indigenous backgrounds together.

Dancer and choreographer Daniel Riley McKinley... “I used to love going in on Sundays and rehearsing and just being around like-minded people who also wanted to move and dance.” Photo Lorna Sim

It was also an opportunity to work together once again with his former mentor, Osborne, whom he credits with bringing in artistic advisers such as Hastie to teach the fledgling dancers all the “tools of the trade” and help them build networks within the dance community.

“That’s where I really decided I wanted to pursue dance as a career,” he says.

“I used to love going in on Sundays and rehearsing and just being around like-minded people who also wanted to move and dance.

“It awakened my eyes and my spirit to what the dance community is and what dance can be – it doesn’t have to be film clips and it doesn’t have to be musicals – it can be art and so much more. It can have a message and tell a story, and Quantum Leap instilled that in me.”

“Hit the Floor Together”, The Playhouse, July 31-August 3, bookings to 6275 2700 or canberratheatrecentre.com.au

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