Human Ba La La took me on a journey suffused with history, architecture and the environment that stayed with me long after I left the theatre. Michael Brady, Writer, Photographer & Artist, The Gents
GSD is interested in community connectedness that is dynamic, inclusive and cross-generational. We are drawn to ideas that foreground the life we share in common as a rational prerequisite for valuing the life we lead as individuals. To do this, we integrate shared architecture, history, landscape and stories into our art. We dance with and for our audiences. We go to them. They come to us. In these ways, community access becomes a key part of our research and development.
‘Weaving together diverse threads of experience, Human Ba La La expands the potential for movement so that a public audience can understand the nature of dance more generally’. Nancy Maud-Flude, Reviewer
We enhance our projects with public conversations, forums and workshops. We offer learning experiences tailored for students. We strive to learn about and role model equity and inclusion. Additionally, each company activity – be it a board meeting, rehearsal or public performance – we consider an opportunity to learn more about respectful engagement with First Tasmanians, palawa/pakana, people.
Community access is a key part of our R & D and it means that community connectedness to what create we takes various forms: filming on site, performing in situ/pop up, ‘intervention’ through the city, workshops, classes, co-commissioning, forums, eating together. We are curious about contemporary mechanisms for sharing professional practice with impact that resonates. We like small and intimate. We like boldness and reach. Both can have profound impact. And both facilitate access and dispersal in different ways.
Digital media has a vibrant role to play. We make dance for screen, site, studio and theatre engaging to deploy different types of presentation and broadcast. Significantly, we facilitate ongoing community access to professional dance is by making film content for broadcast alongside our presentation of live performance. This filmmaking provides us with an important means to manage the risk Covid-19 poses to audiences accessing professional dance expression.
‘Geographically, Hobart is a city with amphitheatricality… and it has it’s own mythologies of settlement. Today, it helps to ask ‘what is sovereign here? There is always a chance for decolonisation…’
Professor Dorita Hannah, NZ
In 2021, GSD hosted a live link with University of Auckland academic Professor Dorita Hannah to discuss the nipaluna/Hobart Rivulet project and posing the question: ‘what is sovereign here?’ in response to our activities along the nipaluna/Hobart Rivulet. This conversation was had with 12 community members who had tracked with our activities and viewed our open practice sessions in a range of ways.
We look upon our relationships with other art forms, cultural entities, people and places within and beyond Tasmania as having boundaries that ’breathe’. This enables us, across time, to benchmark with best practice across Australia and around the globe. Vitally, it also facilitates sharing ideas, other resources and living with an active awareness of our interconnectedness with places beyond our island.
Human Ba La La for Schools
It was with great excitement that Tasmanian professional contemporary dance company Great Southern Dance invited teachers and their students to Human Ba La La at the Theatre Royal, Studio Theatre in April 2022.
Human Ba La La is an original Tasmanian full-length dance-led performance that is all about using art to better understand the world and ourselves. As such, the work directly addresses The Arts Curriculum Roadmap. It also provides students of dance, theatre, design and media with access to the work of outstanding Tasmanian professional artists.
Great Southern Dance offered school matinees tailored to the needs of students and teachers. School groups could see dancers of exceptional ability perform within a multi-artform setting, sharing ideas, beliefs and perspectives. Human Ba La La expresses how it feels to be human to an audience. Viewing this performance enabled students to extend their understanding and appreciation of dance as a highly expressive art form.
Seeing Human Ba La La develops students’:
- experience of how forms and elements combine inside a theatre setting,
- exploration of meaning and interpretation,
- knowledge of social, cultural and historical contexts of dance,
- ability to make dance,
- ability to respond to dance, critically and reflectively.
What to expect when you arrive at the Theatre Royal:
- 15 minutes prior to performance commencing, school groups arrive at the theatre and meet Artistic Director Felicity Bott in the foyer. Felicity will welcome you, ensure COVID-safety is observed and then invite students and teachers to take their seats in the Studio Theatre.
- Commencing on-time, a 70-minute performance will then take place.
- Immediately afterwards, a 10-minute Q & A that focuses on students’ curiosity about the artists’ roles in the work will occur.
- School groups exit theatre and depart.
For in-schools conversation with Great Southern Dance AD Felicity Bott please contact Felicity: 0411953162
Great Southern Dance uses three steps to scaffold and enhance the educational value of attending our performances and in-school workshops are part of these:
- BEFORE: For schools who attend, Artistic Director Felicity Bott will be available for a free in-school visit to chat with students before they see the show. This is an invaluable way to prime students for both their in-theatre experience and their evaluation of the performance afterwards.
- DURING: At the theatre will be a 10-minute post-performance Q & A so that students can directly engage with the dancers, designers and technicians.
- AFTER: Teachers receive an Education Resource to aid students’ evaluation and responses to Human Ba La La. This will contain links to films projected during the performance and technical drawings of the set design. For an additional fee, schools can request post-performance workshops.
For a general in-schools conversation with Great Southern Dance AD Felicity Bott please contact Felicity directly: 0411953162
Each project, community members can access workshops or classes. Contact us to be on our mailing list for upcoming opportunities. Contact Us.
Equity, Access, Inclusion + Health & Wellbeing Plan
GREAT SOUTHERN DANCE EQUITY, ACCESS, INCLUSION + HEALTH & WELLBEING PLAN
As cultural stakeholder in the regional and national arts sector, Great Southern Dance recognises its position to enable all artists, including artists with disabilities, CALD, First Nations and gender diverse artists to play a full role within the cultural landscape and to engage critically with all that the organisation does. Because we are a small project-based company, we base our actions concerning equity on Theatre Network Australia’s excellent and sector-relevant Equity Action Plan. The full plan with which we benchmark can be found here:
This plan considers aspects listed below and adheres to the requirements of the Tamanian
Commonwealth Anti-Discrimination Acts:
- Access and Participation refers to barriers that prevent anyone with a
disability from accessing and participating in the arts both as audience
and as particpants.
- Arts and Cultural Practise refers to barriers that prevent artists with a
disability from realising their artistic ambitions: and
- Audience Development refers to raising the profile of work created by
artists with disabilities.
To summate, our aims and strategic objectives are as follows:
EQUITY ACTION PLAN AIMS
Our Internal Aim is to focus on dedicating resources to making change and to implement best-practice models alongside our peers.
Our External Aim is to be recognised as part of the change, explicitly leading by example, influencing and supporting the performing arts sector nationally to adopt an equity agenda.
EQUITY ACTION PLAN STRATEGIC OBJECTIVES
1. FIRST NATIONS FIRST – Self-determination and leadership roles for First Nations artists and arts workers, greater First Nations cultural awareness amongst the wider sector;
2. JUSTICE & DIVERSITY – A more equitable distribution of resources, opportunities and power. A welcoming, accountable, accessible and inclusive performing arts sector which promotes the creative benefits of diversity.
3. SAFER SPACES – Within an intersectional framework, safe workplaces for all, free from harassment, bullying and other behaviours that create unsafe workplaces;
4. ACCESS & INCLUSION – Contributing to systemic change through the pillars of access, employment, participation, and attitudes for people with disabilities;
5. GENDER EQUITY – Gender Equity in the performing arts, especially in artistic leadership roles, and a safer more inclusive environments for LGBTQIA+ people.
HEALTH AND WELLBEING OBJECTIVES WITH RESPECT TO DANCE
The performing arts has long been associated with poor mental health management and outcomes across Australia (and internationality) from research published by Entertainment Assist (2016):
– the majority of Australian entertainment industry workers express an over whelming passion for their creative work and this is true of dance professionals;
– there is a powerful, negative culture within the industry including a toxic, bruising work environment: extreme compitition: bullying: sexual assult: sexism and racism.
– there are high levels of mental health problems (greater than 40% among dancers) and ‘suicidality’. Barriers to seeking assistance include financial, lack of accessible resources, stigmas associated with asking for support.
In response to this research, we wish to develop and implement a strategy at Great Southern Dance that in 2023 will mean that an integrated mental health and wellbeing policy is included with artist contracts to inform and set the tone for workplace activities. We are committed to create a workplace and community in which conscious prevention, protection, promotion and support of mental health is part of our everyday operations. We want to explore proactive preventative strategies to remove or respond to known and emerging risks to mental health and wellbeing.
First Tasmanians Engagement Plan
Our Guiding Values when working with Artists and Communities and when dancing on lutriwita/Tasmanian land:
- Our Acknowledgement:
We acknowledge the traditional and original owners, the muwunina people, on whose lands we live, work and dance. We pay respect for those that have passed before us and acknowledge today’s Tasmanian Aboriginal people who are custodians of this land.
We acknowledge there is no treaty and that this is stolen land. We acknowledge the lands of First Nations people everywhere, in Australia and in the world.
- Our Commitment:
We commit to Deep Listening, Deep Thinking and Depp Learning. We will do this hrough asking questions and being guided through respectful engagement.
- Our Promise:
We promise to continue to work and learn together to build and celebrate shared creativity. We do this by:
– Continuing to consult with local and national Aboriginal artists when making new work;
– Embracing opportunities to co-create work that reflects our shared place, space and histories.
– Ongoing cultural guidance from Tasmania’s Aboriginal elders.
– Consulting with the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre in relation to language, cultural practises, and cultural protocols.
– Acknowledging and listening to Aboriginal community members.
– Understanding that when outside of our state we acknowledge and seek the same guidance from those nations of the land we are working upon.
– Providing space and place for Aboriginal creatives to work, produce, create, and collaborate.
– Recognising and, where and when welcome, attending community/cultural events such as NAIDOC and others.
– Continuing to acknowledge First Nations lands, seas, and culture in all aspects of our business and at all levels of our programs.
- Three guiding principles:
We wholeheartedly support the process of questioning how to grow meaningful relationships through:
Three guiding principles: Deep Listening, Deep Thinking and Deep Learning because these compel us to consider:
– Deep Listening: Who do we listen to? How do we provide opportunity for listening? What questions do we ask? What stories do we share?.
– Deep Thinking: What is shared creativity? What does shared creativity mean to everyone? How can we be fully inclusive of all palawa community? How do we make all community welcome?.
– Deep Learning: What have we learned? What more can we learn? What changes do we continue to make in everything we do? How can we welcome palawa inclusion in all that we do – our teaching etc? How can we share, (pass on | celebrate | lead by examples) what can we learn? Who do we share with – and how?
For context with respect to GSD engagement with themes of colonisation here is a recent response from First Nations performer, writer and ABC presenter Jordy Gregg to Great Southern Dance’s Human Ba La La, April 2022:
Although once trained in dance, I often find the artform contrite with stagnant and harsh overtones of colonisation. In other words, the feeling of being bound by an ordained structure that relies solely on tradition and stagnation to survive. ( In my opinion ).
Once an art form of beauty, dance can often be put into two separate and distinct categories.
– story/narrative driven
– performance/skill based
These categories might seem derivative, but essentially that’s what dance has become (FOR ME PERSONALLY ) in the western world, although cultural dances can be seen in every culture, the lack of inherent culture within white Australia leaves performances of dance often feeling hollow, and without anything to say. I think this is because at least with theatre, the script can carry the story and intentions, whilst dance solely relies on the microcosms of the performer/s to relay these heavy and often complicated feelings. This was not the case with Human Ba La La. It was one of those rare and beautifully placed performances where it fused both categories and ran with it, correctly so.
This show was a mixture between creative endurance, passionate story telling and a dance show that was entwined with a rich and full intent. The intently curated narrative pushed raw emotions to the forefront and left the audience spell bound when the execution was laid out. I felt fully present through the show, and I felt safe in knowing that I would be moved.