Dalman’s recollection of Riley’s early days in dance

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Daniel Riley during his residency at QL2 in January this year.

FOLLOWING our story yesterday (June 9), about former Canberra dance artist Daniel Riley becoming the next artistic director of the Australian Dance Theatre, its founder Elizabeth Cameron Dalman has emailed us with a delightful recollection of Riley’s earliest days in dance.

Dalman, the 2015 “Canberra CityNews” Artist Of The Year, founded the Adelaide company in 1965 which Riley will now lead.

She was also its artistic director until 1975. Throughout her career she has worked with Indigenous artists, both in Adelaide and in her later life as the director of Mirramu Creative Arts Centre on Lake George.

Dalman writes:

“I am thrilled with the appointment of Daniel Riley as the next artistic director of Australian Dance Theatre. He is a wonderful performer, a talented choreographer and already has a great vision for the company.

“ADT has a long tradition as a revolutionary company pushing boundaries and presenting innovative and exciting works. Daniel plans to champion diversity and develop the company’s cross- and inter-cultural potentials.

Elizabeth Cameron Dalman dancing in 2011. Photo: Barbie Robinson.

“From the very beginning we set out to be a company exploring our Australian identity, our Australian artistic expression and cultural diversity, so I feel this is a strong continuation of the original aims of the company.”

Dalman notes the words in the ADT’s formal announcement, “Daniel, a Wiradjuri man with cultural ties throughout western New South Wales, began contemporary dance as a 12-year-old at the invitation of ADT’s founder and first artistic director, Elizabeth Cameron Dalman OAM, in Canberra,”

She adds, “I worked with Daniel’s father on a dance work in regional NSW in the 1990s. He told me that his son, Daniel, who was 12 at the time, was wanting to learn to dance. So, I, with Vivienne Rogis who was working with me on the same project, both suggested that Daniel apply to go to QL2 [Ruth Osborne’s QL2 Dance in Gorman Arts Centre].

“The name of the project that I worked with his father on was called “Still Alive and Dancing”. When I spoke with Daniel the other night, I said how thrilled I was that ADT is still alive and dancing, for him to now take the helm.

“His journey into QL2 and then on to QUT [Queensland University of Technology], Bangarra, and as a freelance independent dancer, has given Daniel wonderful experiences on which to base his artistic directorship now with ADT. I congratulate him and wish him well.”

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Helen Musa
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