Wagana Dancers keep creating and connected

With so many venues, festivals and events forced to close down, cancel or reschedule last year, performing artists were hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dance studios were inoperable for months and then restricted to smaller numbers, so like many artists the Wagana Dancers went online.

Under the Madhan: Jo Clancy wrote the children's show. She is pictured with Jack Williams. Photo: Shana O'Brien

Under the Madhan: Jo Clancy wrote the children's show. She is pictured with Jack Williams. Photo: Shana O'Brien

Founder and artistic director of Wagana, Jo Clancy said: "I had a fast and steep learning curve into the world of online dance. We zoomed classes and workshops, we pre-recorded performances outside for NAIDOC week and we made lots of dance videos."

In November, the Sydney Opera House presented its sixth annual Dance Rites festival online and Wagana competed for their fourth year.

Dance Rites seeks to revitalise First Nations cultural practices and showcase the richness and diversity of First Nations culture.

Wagana danced in The Gully in Katoomba with Aunty Carol Cooper guiding the women and girls throughout the competition. The Gully is the largest Aboriginal place in NSW and before white settlement the traditional owners of the Gully - the Darug and Gundungurra peoples - used The Gully as a summer camp.

Time in lockdown also gave Clancy the opportunity to write a new children's show called Under the Madhan (Wiradjuri word for tree).

Creative Koori Projects funding from Create NSW allowed her to develop the show with assistance from longtime friend and collaborator Scott Wright from Erth Visual and Physical. The show has recently finished a five-day season as part of the Sydney Festival.

"It's hoped that Under the Madhan, which shares gentle stories about caring for Country mixing dance, puppetry and song, will be presented in other festivals and events in 2021 as the Australian arts industry recovers, reconnects and revitalises," Clancy said.

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