My arts or creative practice (including details about my specific focus within that art form/practice and my strengths)
We co-founded our studio in late 2016 with a vision to continue exploring our choreographic pursuits and finding ways of working as individuals in a collective format. We focus on creating performance work that is politically challenging and transformative, within a desire to connect and nurture our community and uphold these relationships. Our creative practice at its current stage lies within two focal areas: choreographic dance development and collaborative choreographic practice.
Choreographic dance development is an ongoing practice we undertake which involves dance movement classes including somatic movement practices, contemporary techniques, repertoire, muscle and bone, improvisation, choreographic developments towards contemporary dance and dance theatre performances, and our own personal movement inquiry.
As a collective, our creative practice is one which roots itself in the ability to effectively collaborate and work creatively with others in the community. There is a focus on partnering, improvisation and tasking through the lens of building human relationships and embodying experiences creatively. We are consistently working collaboratively as a collective, and acknowledge that our strengths lie in this way of working. Since the beginning, our collective has progressively discovered and evolved in this highly symbiotic way. The importance of sharing and making space for each individual to be open and expressive, developing and deepening trust, building communication skills, learning about oneself and our role in the world are all part of the way we operate. We are eager to utilise our skills in these collaborative ways of working to contribute to the overall success of our arts practice and to share and offer experiences to those around us.
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
We are a collective of highly trained contemporary dance practitioners who graduated from Unitec’s Bachelor of Performing and Screen Arts (Contemporary Dance) degree with individual specialised training including a certificate at the New Zealand School of Dance. Our three members also have 10+ years of dance training at Auckland Academy of Dance, and two local colleges. Since 2016, we have developed a large list of ongoing creative projects and performances which have taken place throughout New Zealand and Australia. Included in this list are several award-winning performances [names redacted], as well as highly recognised light festival performances in both Auckland and Queenstown.
We have developed and performed four full length contemporary dance-theatre works. These works have received high praise and recognition for their innovative nature, entertaining qualities, skilful execution and original collaborations. Aside from these larger scale projects, the collective have collaborated with a multitude of artists, fashion designers, musicians, and tech companies on a number of events [names redacted]. In addition to performance work, the collective hold a well-established role within the Auckland dance community and are often recognised for the opportunities of growth we provide for youth, adults, and fellow dancers. The collective has received two residencies to further develop works, engage in research, and showcase these developments. These took place in Auckland and Melbourne.
The collective continues to nurture these relationships which have resulted in on-going community based events. An example is the collective’s classes which were first developed and continue to be held from time to time at an Auckland studio. Teaching and offering movement workshops to connect with fellow dancers and artists around New Zealand is an important part of the collective’s yearly plan. Each year we hold a series of open classes for the professional and tertiary dance community, community classes, and choreographic workshops. Throughout 2020 the collective has continued to offer online movement classes to connect with the dance community whilst in lockdown and throughout the Covid-19 alert levels. The collective’s work that toured to Dunedin for the city’s Fringe Festival coincided with a choreographic workshop which brought in students of both high school and university age interested in learning about the choreographic process and repertoire.
Another piece was a series of six choreographic workshops open to the dance and theatre community in Auckland, and focused on tasking and open improvisation. One last example of the collective’s aim to collaborate with youth in the community is our improvisational workshop for school students held as part of Experimental Dance Week Aotearoa. The collective wrote about their experience working in such a collaborative manner for an edition of DANZ’s magazine.
Describe the experience you have had working with children or young people, teaching or facilitating creative processes
We have extensive experience working with youth, facilitating creative processes and teaching classes and workshops. As a collective, we have worked with high school and tertiary students and professional dancers, and are looking forward to offering a summer school at a Dunedin College in January 2021.
One members’ teaching experience includes syllabus and open ballet and contemporary, as well as creative and choreographic classes with students aged 4 to 17, and with adult students. She also spent time as a StarJam dance tutor where she facilitated dance workshops for teens and young adults with disabilities. Alongside this, she has worked in roles such as kids birthday party entertaining, pilates teaching at college level, and has over six years of childcare experience. Her most recent role was as a guest tutor for NCEA Dance 3.3 at a local college.
Our second member currently works in the realms of Dance Movement Therapy, assisting and leading DMT sessions for children on the Autism Spectrum, as well as in primary schools and for StarJam, a New Zealand organisation that offers music and dance workshops for youth with disabilities. She has taught dance at several studios in Auckland, led kids birthday dance parties, taught contemporary dance at a summer school, and was recently a guest tutor for a local college’s NCEA Dance 3.3 assessment. Her work with adults includes teaching seniors dance, mat pilates, assisting DMT sessions for adults with disabilities)and Dementia-informed movement classes. She is interested in fostering collaboration and connection within movement tasks with others.
Our third member has a diverse teaching practice, and has taught contemporary, ballet, jazz, lyrical, conditioning, improvisation and choreographic practice within dance studios, pre-professional training programmes, high schools, professional companies and tertiary dance institutions in New Zealand and Australia. She is a sought after guest teacher and contemporary dance coach, and has worked with many students who have gone on to gain success at competitions and auditions for associates and full-time dance courses. She has taught choreographic repertoire to International Baccalaureate students, and guest taught contemporary classes at a local college. Recently, she was the lecturer for a Dance Studies’ 2nd year choreography paper. In 2020, she taught ballet, contemporary and technique foundations (including delivering online classes to the Beijing Dance Academy exchange students); virtual morning movement, open contemporary and Feisty Feet (seniors dance); NZAMD Contemporary syllabus and RAD Ballet syllabus classes; NZAMD Contemporary syllabus, and open lyrical, ballet, pointe and contemporary classes at a school of dance; open contemporary, conditioning and solo coaching; and barre fitness classes. She is passionate about creating safe and positive learning environments, and helping her students find freedom and connection through movement.
Why I want to be part of the Creatives in Schools programme and how my involvement will link to my creative practice
We want to be a part of the Creatives in Schools programme because we are passionate about holding space for rangatahi to engage in embodied learning environments and form strong social connections. It is well documented that dance training provides important life skills, including creative thinking and problem solving, the ability to form strong interpersonal connections, collaboration and being able to work in a team; resilience, adaptability, self-discipline, perseverance and heightened self-awareness.
Now more than ever, we are facing mass disembodiment and disconnection due to the dominance of digital technologies and social and physical isolation due to restrictive health measures. We believe that our workshops will offer vital skills for rangatahi in the 21st century and Covid-19 era, as the world faces unprecedented challenges. Our involvement with Creatives in Schools will link to our creative practice, enabling us to deliver our biggest youth engagement programme in a financially stable manner.
As a collective, we offer a unique approach to connecting with students. We have a strong understanding that each student is unique in their creativity and in the ways they relate to movement as a form of expression. We acknowledge that dance is not only important as a form of performance but also as a way of expanding knowledge of oneself and finding healthy ways to manage mental and physical health, and we value sharing this knowledge just as highly as we value creating our own professional theatre shows.
Throughout our professional training and careers, we have noticed there is a gap between what is often taught in youth dance classes vs. the professional dance industry, and we see great value in offering our collective embodied knowledge to youth, to provide tools to help them and their respective communities improve their hauora and encourage creative decision-making and risk-taking. We also realise that the cost of dance lessons can be a major barrier for families, and we would love to have the opportunity to bring these opportunities to rangatahi who might not otherwise get to experience or engage in dance training. We want to see the youth of Aotearoa gain a deeper appreciation and understanding of dance practices, so that they might develop a love of dance and become more engaged audience members, which in time will contribute to a stronger, more resilient arts sector.