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Creative ID: 117

Art form(s): Dance, Community Art, Multi-Disciplinary, The Flow Arts, Fire Performance.

Based in: Central Dunedin, Dunedin.

When I'm available: We get back from our summer tour in early February, and will start working with schools from March until November. Depending on the week (e.g. during exams), we can expect to host at least one session with a school per weekday, either during class time, at lunchtimes, or after school.

Where I'm available: Otago, Dunedin. We would love to soon expand our offerings to Canterbury and Christchurch – and have a regional coordinator there that is exploring her options and about to start reaching out to schools and creating connections for our regional expansion.

My arts or creative practice (including details about my specific focus within that art form/practice and my strengths)

I teach an emerging performing art form known as "The Flow Arts". Participants learn techniques and movements with a variety of disciplines such as staff, hoops, poi, and rope dart. I specialise in community engagement, and have become proficient in actively involving and encouraging participation. The Flow Arts fosters a culture of sharing and creative expression, teaching individuals how to break down complex problems, introducing them to experimental failure, and cultivating a sense of explorative play. As a group progresses through the various knowledge pathways, they grow together, teaching and learning from each other, becoming closer due to their shared knowledge. Through engaging with the learning process in a very physical way, students learn how to break down complex concepts together, to encourage each other, and to celebrate their strengths and successes. When they perform together, they start to challenge themselves, to work with each other, to allow for the different personalities and styles of learning, and the benefits that come from positive group cohesion and the shared pursuit of movement-based practice.

My track record of experience and success - or the track record of experience and success of the creative or artist that I will partner with

I have fulfilled all of the criteria. Recognition from peers and experts is made evident by my invitation to join the charitable trust, CACTNZ, as well as obtaining funding from a range of local and national sources. We have achieved critical success through our strong organisational capacity, providing programmes for a huge number of participants, training and offering opportunities to fledgling performing artists, hosting years of successful national performing arts gatherings, have delivered 3 years of successful programmes to a number of schools across the country, and have accumulated thousands of hours of practical experience and training from mentors in my field and community.

Describe the experience you have had working with children or young people, teaching or facilitating creative processes

I have worked with thousands of children and young people across the country, through the full range of ages (kindergarten, primary school, high school, and university age youths). I have facilitated weekly training and performance sessions both in schools, and outside of schools with students. Themes I touch upon include empowerment, engagement, enthusiasm, and inclusion. I teach students to embrace failure, to encourage each other through the learning process, to challenge themselves as creative entities, to actively express and explore the range of emotions involved in performance, and how to become physically and mentally adept. Our training sessions start with a series of basic tricks and techniques, that we then link within the thematic framework. I often employ the meme of “Ninja Training” – as a variety of the art forms we offer are based on martial disciplines (e.g. staff, poi, sword, rope dart). When combined with fire performance – this offers a powerful and engaging allure, augmented through the proficiency of my performances. Often when first approaching a school I perform for their assembly, and then host an immediate lunchtime training session afterwards. Through this manner I have managed to permeate throughout the Dunedin youth community.

Why I want to be part of the Creatives in Schools programme and how my involvement will link to my creative practice

We are already fulfilling many of the objectives of this project. We offer all of our programmes for free to the schools, conscious of the fact that any fee would hinder engagement and take away from providing for students. We have expanded much faster than our funding has allowed, often our community tutors and performers are teaching for free, covering their own expenses, and not being fully reimbursed for their valuable time and energy. We are looking to expand further in 2020, into the wider rural regions of Otago, targeting the local towns and schools where mental health and isolation are even more of an issue. With your support we can adequately roll out our expansion, providing for thousands of additional students. We look to create a performing arts youth festival for the region in the next year or so – bringing together students from schools all over the region.

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