A brilliantly sunny day greeted dance luminary and 2015 “CityNews” Artist of the Year, Elizabeth Cameron Dalman yesterday (April 27) as she held a private celebration at her property on the edge of Lake George to mark 30 years of Mirramu Creative Arts Centre.
On hand were dancers, community members and well-wishers who helped her plant 30 donated trees, one for each year of the centre’s existence. Among the tiny saplings was the tiny offshoot of a now-huge oak tree gifted to Dalman, now aged 85, when she first moved to this region from Adelaide and the Australian Dance Theatre all those years ago.
Ngambri elder and new Mirramu board member, Shane Mortimer, performed the official tree-planting of a small snow gum before gathering the attendees around the campfire for a talk about the history and future of the land’s original inhabitants.
In a mixture of melancholy reminiscence and more optimistic foreshadowing of solutions, Mortimer talked about the transmission of Aboriginal common law transmitted by ‘encoded dance, music and art,’ the Indigenous equivalent, he said, to the Ten Commandments. His concerns, he added, were not just about Aboriginal disenfranchisement but that of two thirds of the population who are not of “Anglo” background.
After the birthday cake was cut, guests headed downwards, first to the ceremonial ground at Mirramu where Canberra’s GOLD (Growing Old Disgracefully) dancers performed in the wind, then into a gully where Debora di Centa and her dancers reacted to the natural surroundings, into a clearing for a remarkable dance portrayal of the menacing ‘god of carbon’ by interpretation of the impact of carbon by visiting Taiwanese artist Furong.
Later on the bed of Lake George itself, Alison Plevey performed a solo dance revisiting her own dangerous experience when she fell into a river, followed by a more ceremonial work by members of Taiwan’s company Dance Ecology and former Canberra dancer Vivienne Rogis, a strange evocation of a mythical creature of the land by Furong and eventually a silent work centred on the imposing 85-year-old Dalman herself, before the whole crowd burst into dance.
It was, those present agreed, yet another of the unique dance experiences this significant artist has brought to our region.