‘I wanna dance with somebody’ say Canberra dancers

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A former Dance Day. Photo Lorna Sim.

IT’S International Dance Day today (April 29) all over the world, but here the wags are already dubbing it “International disDANCE Day”.

And what better song for Canberra choreographer Jamie Winbank to use as the soundtrack to his “Socialdis_dance” group video than Whitney Houston’s, “I Wanna Dance With Somebody”? View it here.

Australian Dance Party director, Alison Plevey is one of many artists in Canberra’s lively dance community to be facing the COVID-19 crisis positively, and tells us that a group of around 25 ACT dancers have been meeting by Zoom each Friday for some weeks now.

Canberra dancers express their ‘Message in Motion’.

Along with a bevy of Canberra dance luminaries, including Elizabeth Dalman, Liz Lea, James Batchelor, Philip Piggin, Ruth Osborne – the list goes on – Alison has been recording herself dancing in isolation and emailing the results to fellow dancer Olivia Fyfe, whose editing skills have resulted in the “Message in Motion” video released today.

Gregory Vuyani Maqoma. Photo: Marijke Willems-Fiche.

Their video is a response to the worldwide message from official International Dance Day ambassador, South African dance artist Gregory Vuyani Maqoma, who says, “Dance is freedom… As we dance with our bodies, tumbling in space and tangling together, we become a force of movement weaving hearts, touching souls and providing healing that is so desperately needed… All we need now is to dance some more.”

In 1982, the Dance Committee of the International Theatre Institute founded International Dance Day to be celebrated every year on April 29, the birthday of Jean-Georges Noverre, the creator of modern ballet, with the idea of revelling in the universality of the art form, across all political, cultural and ethnic barriers.

Arts minister Gordon Ramsay online this morning.

At an online launch of Dance Week (which always follows Dance Day) this morning, arts minister Gordon Ramsay, seen performing at ausdanceact.org.au on his home piano, praised Canberra’s dancers as “wonderful” and advised everyone to “get out and have a dance”.

At the virtual launch, Ausdance ACT released news of a choreographed community dance project for what they’re calling “The COVID-19 Online Australian Dance Week.”

This Saturday, May 2, they’ll post a video with instructions and an invitation for viewers to learn the dance, video themselves doing it then send the recording to Ausdance ACT by noon on Friday, May 8. The videos will be compiled and published online on May 11.

Dancers at a Dance Day event in happier times, at the National Portrait Gallery.

President of Ausdance ACT, Lauren Honcope, describes the move as “a pretty exciting thing,” adding, “Clearly it is just not possible for the dance and wider community to gather physically in a wonderful venue, as we usually do… to ‘gather’ and hold performances, classes, seminars and other dance-focused events in the usual way, in a ‘normal’ year”.

Since early March, she says, Ausdance ACT has directly experienced the shock of members of the dance community, including commercial dance studios, all of whom have been working out how to get through this period and ensure survival. Many are now online and Ausdance plans to do the same.

Visit ausdanceact.org.au/virtual-connected

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Helen Musa
“CityNews” arts editor

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