Community Dancer in Residence 1989


Darwin, Katherine, Northern Territory Tour, Jabiru, and Lajamanu

Directors Notes - Sarah Calver

At times I feel my choreographic ability is limited by my isolation but at the same time I feel there is enough local talent to keep me inspired. Contact with interstate and overseas artists adds to my knowledge. It is refreshing to have someone initiate and share ideas than to continually be the one doing the majority of the initiating.

However, it is important to use the resources within the community and to that point, people who come up from down south to teach and who are not open to this environment surrounding them often seem to be on a different wave length to the locals, and their work therefore has no impact. It is interesting to see those choreographers who are adaptable, especially given that they cannot rely on the skills of trained dancers and companies. Because I work with such a wide range of the population of the NT, it is necessary for me to be able to adapt to the various environments I find myself in. Although I learn from this, it is also frustrating to work with all the different groups at the same time. Splitting my focus and resources is time consuming and often each group needs more time than can be given due to the other commitments.

I see my future work being closely associated to Community Dance and Dance Theatre. My interest in community work is strong and although I see some of my work relating to professional groups, be it dancers or actors, I believe my focus will remain in projects directly connected to the general community.

1989 Program

Dance Theatre:
Gone with the Lift – Brown’s Mart Theatre
Power, Corrugated Iron Youth Theatre – Brown’s Mart Theatre

Community Dance, Dance Mob:
Dance Mob consists of four groups. Children (5 - 12 years), teenage and adults, older adults (50+), and a youth group 18 - 24 based in Palmerston. Classes are open to the general community and offer a variety of techniques and skills needed to create original works. The groups all explore their own movement and input into the choreography. As the Northern Territory offers a different life-style to the rest of Australia, so too should its culture be developed to reflect this. It is the locals who live here who add the light and shade to the choreographic pieces.

Performance opportunities:
Mixtures at the Mart
May Day March, including the use of inflatables made by Tim Newth, and a piece called Dance Sport
Last Chance Cabaret - Fringe Festival cabaret performance created by Maggi Phillips and performed at the Casino
Christmas Show - the Older Adults initiated this to share their dances with those in homes. Working with Renate (the Brown’s Mart Music Therapist) this song and dance variety show included audience participation.

Dancing Tapestries:
Guest dancer/choreographer Marita Smith. A 10 week project offered workshops in modern dance, tap, flamenco, Papua New guinea traditional dances, ballroom, and choreographic skill development. Performance in September.
The performance was a meal and a performance on the lawns beside Brown’s Mart Theatre. 80 dancers ranging in age from 4 – 77 were watched by 400 people.
Additional mini-performances of Dancing Tapestries were shown at Nungalinya College, Mindil Beach Markets, Tracey Lodge Old People’s Home, and Palmerston Markets.

Lajamanu Community Residency 1: Ten weeks, and tour to Warlpiri communities around Central Australia, and various schools in the Darwin and Katherine Region.
Artists: Janet Robertson, Sarah Calver, Tim Newth
Jabiru: one week. This mining town is about 3 hours from Darwin within the Kakadu National park. A one-week holiday program was delivered to various age groups and groups, including a gymnastics group. In addition, composition workshops were offered which developed into a piece shown at the end of the program.

Workshops to introduce modern dance skills and compositional techniques were held in the following schools:
Casuarina Secondary College, Driver High, Sanderson high, Lutheran College, Dripstone High, St john’s College, Lajamanu Education Centre, Kormilda College

  •             Early Childhood seminar
  •             Extension Courses: Dance Schools
  •             Eisteddfod assistance
  •             Ballet schools: Darwin School of Ballet, Palmerston Ballet School
  •             Russian Cossack workshop

Notes - TIm Newth

I arrived in Darwin at about the same time as Sarah Calver’s appointment as Dance Development Officer for Brown’s Mart. We both had much to learn. I was a visual/community artist who had become interested in dance and its making. I had recently worked with Dance Works in Melbourne, and Tasdance in Tasmania.

Working in and with the Lajamanu was a questioning time for me. What did we have to offer these people? Dance, theatre and visual arts have all been alive (and happen on this same ground as we stand here today) for thousands of years. Living as an artist here you need to explore that link, that link to the land and the earth. Lajamanu has been a kind of ground point, a source of questioning and images that have largely influenced us and carried into our work with others.

Being the Dance Development Officer has enabled Sarah to diversify into many aspects and areas of dance, extending her own personal knowledge and that which she shares with others. For me, as it is for others I’m sure, Sarah has become an artistic partner, with whom we step off into new and often unknown ground.

Sarah became a major link for me here, to dance, and with her knowledge of the Territory (which felt unlike any other part of Australia I had ever worked in before, yet I felt “this is Australia”.)

Since then I have come to know Sarah in many roles – dancer, teacher, performer, administrator, director, community artist. Together we have shared much and toured the Territory four times. Theatre has become a new area for us both, working together on major productions (Black Rainbow, Living in Isolation, Gone with the Lift). In particular with Corrugated Iron Youth Theatre which is a company open to exploring new things and taking risks.

One of Sarah’s major strengths is working with young people. She enables them to firstly find a dance language they feel comfortable with and relate to. Then she lets them take ownership of it. The importance of dance being understood is something we can all make, and do make, as part of our lives, and is something Sarah imparts very well.

Dance on Darwin saw Sarah, Maggi Phillips and myself working with Beth Shelton. Beth offered new ways to move, to choreograph, and to feel dance within her body, new structures of teaching and approaching dance as a community learning process. We have little contact with others working in dance, companies don’t often tour here, so there is a great need to be shown and share in new ideas and techniques through others working in the field.


Dance Development Office: Sarah Calver

[Under Brown’s Mart Community Arts – Executive Officer Ken Conway]

“All Darwin joined in the tapestry of dance, community dance event that brought together hoofers aged 4 – 77 in a wonderful weave of movement, sound, silks, and sticks for one night only. Despite the hard work, what came across to the audience was primarily the terrific fun everyone involved has had preparing for Tapestries … Above all it was evident in the faces of the performers as they laughed, and shared the joy of performance with each other, and the audience. Dancing tapestries has shown that Darwinites want to dance.”  June Kane Northern Territory News, September 25, 1989

Search for Work by Title or
by Person:

› Search for Work by year