The Chunky Move Koorie Engagement Program was a new initiative launched in 2011 to provide contemporary dance education and training to Koorie female youth. The aim of the program was to offer contemporary dance education and training to indigenous communities across Victoria, specifically to indigenous female youth in remote and regional areas. Chunky Move launched this new program in partnership with the Wannik Dance Academies, with the support of the Helen Macpherson Smith Trust.
The Wannik Dance Academies are an initiative of the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, for Years 7 – 10 female Koorie students. Launched in 2010 across the state at Mooroopna Secondary College (Shepparton), Ballarat Secondary College and Eaglehawk Secondary College, the initiative aims to provide an educational program, aligned to regular school curriculum, based around dance.
The Chunky Move Koorie Engagement Program was a two-part program, delivered during first and second semesters of the 2011 school year. In February, Chunky Move sent two leading professional dancers/teachers, Kristy Ayre and James Welsby, accompanied by Koorie Liaison Jacob Boehme, to visit each regional academy to facilitate a Chunky Move repertoire workshop, building on the student’s current movement and dance skills and broadening their knowledge of contemporary dance practice.
Directly following these regional visits the students attended an Industry Learning Day held at Chunky Move Studios in March. This provided the three schools with the opportunity to come together in Melbourne and participate in a workshop that built on their skills, enabled them to train within a company environment, and provided a session with Artistic Director Gideon Obarrzanek. The timing of the Industry Learning Day was specifically chosen so that they could follow up the workshop by attending a performance of a new Chunky Move production Connected, presented as part of Dance Massive 2011 and the National Dance Forum. In August, a further round of workshops were held with the same students. This workshop further built on their skills and after participating in a second Industry Learning Day at Chunky Move, the students attended a performance of Chunky Move’s Next Move project, It Sounds Silly.
The Koorie Engagement Program received positive feedback from the students and schools involved and Chunky Move is currently in discussion with Wannik Dance Academy over ways to build on this program in the future.
“Having taught professionally for over a decade, I can honestly say, the Chunky Move Koorie Engagement Program was one of my most challenging yet rewarding teaching experiences. I have never in my career been so moved by the generosity, resistance, joy, questioning but mostly, incredible exchange that occurred during these series of workshops. It highlighted to me the simultaneous benefit to the participants, myself and contemporary dance as a form. This exchange is greatly significant to the cultural development of dance in this country and it can possibly, through continuation, sow the seeds for the development of a much more visible indigenous presence in the Victorian dance community.”
Kristy Ayre, Chunky Move dance teacher