Betchay Mondragon - Multicultural Artist in Residence 2001
Darwin and Dili, East Timor
Artist in Residence Betchay Mondragon engages with the community in many programs and events throughout the year. Also linking artists to Tracks Program.
Tracks has a history of commitment to the development of multicultural arts, especially as this relates to cultural development within the Northern Territory. This is demonstrated in our recent history with projects such as Interactions, The Land the Cross and The Lotus, Two Fold Journey, and Sticks ’n’ Stones. The Sticks ‘n’ Stones project was nominated for a human rights award and included work with refugee, migrant, indigenous and other NESB participants. Our work with Rukshana Ramachandran over several projects has fostered the development of her as a local emerging artist, her project Two Fold Journey was a clear example of her abilities, and the result of our support.
With Support from Arts NT, Tracks was able to employ Betchay Mondragon for 12 months as artist in residence. Betchay is well respected within the Darwin Community both as a high quality artist in her own right, as well as for her constant striving to further the development of multi-cultural performance art. She has worked in areas of cultural maintenance, progression and in the way cultures fuse when they develop side by side. (Recent examples of this are the Kilos Kultura section of Two fold Journey, Cross Over - Palmerston, a fusion between Mehalika Filipino Association and the Palmerston School of Ballet, Sticks ‘n’ Stones.) Betchay has also brought her considerable cultural knowledge to her work with Indigenous Australians.
Betchay Mondragon has produced and directed dance and theatrical events that reflect and represent the Territory’s multicultural community since moving to Darwin from the Philippines. She has a commitment to the development of young people of different cultural backgrounds as artists as demonstrated by her creation of the performing groups Kulay Lupa and Kilos Kultura. Betchay has already established links with many cultural groups and communities.
In bringing her abilities, skills and expertise to Tracks Betchay enhanced our potential for stronger and wider ties with multicultural organisations in Darwin and Asia, making the most of our already established partnerships with various multi-cultural groups, organisations and individuals as well as our extensive network with other Arts Organisations. This position ensures that Tracks remains directly linked to its community, maximising its skills development and participation through wide reaching community workshops and performance opportunities.
Harmony Day: March 21
Sponsored by NT Office of Ethnic Affairs, Darwin City Promotions and Kakadu Studios, a cultural presentation at the Raintree Park was produced to celebrate Harmony Day. Performances from the Torres Strait Island Performing Group, Kilos Kultura and the Palmerston Ballet School amongst others. All community cultural groups were sent invitations but unfortunately, it being lunch time of a Wednesday (This time and day was upon the request of Ethnic Affairs -- to make it coincide with the actual Harmony Day date) and the Office of Ethnic Affairs having encouraged multiple activities through the day, groups were poorly represented due to being involved in other Harmony day activities, or finding it too hard to organise work and school commitments. Minister Peter Adamson opened the presentation and Janicean Price, Director for Ethnic Affairs and MLA for Blain Terry Mills graced the occasion.
An average of 75 audiences gathered at the park. A simple lunch, catered by Kilos Kultura, was shared with guests and performers.
Youth Week: 1-8 April Territory Street Beat (Hip-hop dance workshops)
Sponsored but the NT Office of Youth Affairs, choreographers/dance teachers Gerard Veltre and Darrio Phillips (of Darrio Street dance studio in Sydney) were sent up to Darwin to run dance workshops specifically targeting young men between the ages of 15-25. Workshops were held in Dripstone High School, Darwin High School, Kormilda College, Northern Territory University, an open to the public workshop at Brown's Mart Theatre and a specialised workshop with the youth of Bathurst Island (Nguiu Community) and the Torres Strait Island Association/Performing Group. These workshops, eventually, did not end up as exclusive for young men.
Rivers of the Underground: Performance June 5-9
A strong multi Cultural contingent performed as part of this performance which looks at different approaches that cultures have to the afterlife. Dying is as important a ritual and rite of passage as being born. “The kingdom of death has five rivers; hate, oblivion, wailing, woe, and fire. We all die.” The production featured professional and community dancers. Betchay facilitated the participation of the female members of the Torres Strait Island Association/Performing Group and identified two young hip-hop male performers (Marko Taopo and Erwin Fenis) and two young women performers for the chorus.
Independence Day in Dili: 12 June
Kilos Kultura was invited to perform for the Philippine Contingent of the UN Peacekeeping Forces in Dili for the 103rd commemoration of the Declaration of Philippine Independence, 12 June. (This was not a paid gig but was solicited but the military organisers as an act of patriotism from Filipino ex-patriots). The group brought with them new members Marko Taopo (cast in Rivers) and Gerard Veltre as guest choreographer/cultural worker. This performance was for an international audience of 450 people, on an improvised stage on the grounds of the Philippine camp. Timorese cultural worker and respected writer Maria Alice Casimiro Branco, provided the welcome to country and acknowledged links between Dili and Darwin (as achieved by cultural workers).
Mother Daughter: 16 Nov, Performed at the Darwin Entertainment Centre.
Directed by Betchay Mondragon.
A performance that looks at Darwin as a place of evolving cultures. A large-scale community performance draws together an all-new company of dancers from diverse ages and cultural backgrounds. Links of blood. Branches of family. Lines of culture and knowledge. Dances contained within the body, passed on through sweat and energy, though law and ritual. Women of various cultural backgrounds were involved in this project.
International Nights: August 7, 15,17 Old Town Hall Ruins
As part of the Fringe Festival, three nights performance, cultural sharing, food, drink and celebration were being organised. To start at 5:00 PM, the general concept was to make the audience feel like they have just walked into a community activity. BYO chairs and rugs, free entry, simultaneous activity were the main characteristics of these events. Performances were structured around a desire to share one's culture with others rather than the need to create a presentation for an audience.
African community confirmed participation by providing several performance pieces and cultural activities (Zulu-Gambia dance, spear making, braiding, Fashion parade, Cultural Connect, Mbake Darboe.
The Torres Strait Island Association organised food, drinks, weaving, screen printing, cooking demonstrations, and performance of traditional and contemporary dance and music. Thayak Band capped the night with reggae music.
A night of different Asian cultures.
Philo (Australian Youth Slang For Filipino) and Proud: 14 July Sanctuary Lakes, Palmerston. Sponsored by NT Office of Ethnic Affairs, Palmerston City Council and Kakadu Studios, this will be a presentation by Kilos Kultura reflecting youth and cultural pride as young Filipinos in Australia. Performance staging, technical production requirements and some marketing and promotions will be taken cared of by Palmerston City Council.
Kilos Kultura had just come back from a performance in Dili, East Timor for the UN Peacekeeping Forces (Philippine Contingent) last 12 June. "Philo and Proud" will be an extended version of this presentation, putting together some old and new repertoire by this young group. The performance is specially for the Filipino community in Darwin and neighbouring areas (June 12 was 103rd commemoration of the Declaration of Philippine Independence) but is open to the general public. Invitations will be sent out to all cultural communities to ensure their presence.
Festival of Darwin, Hip-Hop Parade Entry: 25 August
More than 20 young performers were choreographed to come up with a moving hip-hop entry to the grand parade. Former Rivers cast members Marko Taopo (also a member of Kilos Kultura) and Judd McElroy with Paolo Flores (Kilos member) assisted in choreography.
Artistic Directors: David McMicken and Tim Newth
Office Administration: Heather Richards
Bookkeeper: Lynn Bramham
Production Manager: Eunice De Ramos
Multicultural Artist in Residence: Betchay Mondragon
Grey Panthers Coordinator: Merrilee Mills
Committee Members: David Taylor (Chair), Jackie Wurm (Vice-Chair), Glenn Bernardin (Treasurer), Kyleigh Hindson/Rukshana Ramachandran (Secretary/Public Officer), Ken Conway, Nicole Cridland, Kay Brown, Tania Lieman (Ordinary Committee Members), David McMicken and Tim Newth (Ex-Officio Members)