By Darwin High School dance teacher Sarah Calver
Darwin High School Year 12 Creative Arts Dance students recently presented their innovative and entertaining dance theatre work Existence. Creative Arts is designed to mentor experienced dance students and to further develop creative, practical and theoretical skills needed for possible further dance training at a tertiary/dance sector level. This course has been exceptionally successful over the past eight years and is an accredited SACE NTCE Stage 2 Subject. It actively integrates with mentors such as nationally acclaimed choreographer Joanna Noonan.
Her work is renowned for effectively tackling tough subjects and for communicating critical messages to young audiences, triggering community and school discussions. Joanna has created three productions with Darwin High School and each of these thought provoking and heartfelt productions have been shortlisted for the National Australian Dance Awards.
In 2017 Joanna and I decided to address the question of, 'Who am I?'. Further discussions with the Stage 2 Creative Arts Dance students around the question of self identity lead to the development of Joanna's newest work Existence. The performance paints a picture of how teenagers rapidly experience ongoing physical, mental and emotional changes, whilst also experiencing some turmoil about who they are as a person. It’s about developing a sense of self.
Existence was inspired by ten extraordinary young dancers and Joanna carefully balanced a mix of light hearted humour with emotional moments to create an entertaining and insightful performance. Throughout the development of Existence the cast members listened, took on instruction and training, and invested themselves into the creative practice with maturity and honesty - trusting themselves and their mentors. This allowed them to constantly test their edge. The commitment of this extraordinary cast deserves to be applauded. Remarkable, stunning and outstanding are a few words that spring to mind when describing this amazing cast of ten marvellous performers.
The production was also supported once again by DHS alumni Tom Lydiard, whose lighting and projection design on multiple surfaces was stunning and his production skills enhanced the team’s phenomenal creativity.
Existence was proudly presented by Steven Rowe from SRA Information Technology, SLIDE Youth Dance, Darwin High School, EPrint and the Northern Territory Government.
Below are some comments from our audience.
Ms Bobbie Thomson: Senior Teacher English/Literacy/EALD/Art/Music, NT School of Distance Education
Congratulations to the young dancers and all who supported them to bring us an absolute WOW-factor performance. I left the studio – my mind full of images and connections – all in colour!!!
We had the pleasure of being part of EXISTENCE last night.The performance was extraordinary and gifted us with such insight, passion and admiration for the talents and pure creative genius of all involved. We laughed, we cried and we marvelled at these amazing teenagers and their ability and courage to display the tenderness and the battle of their hearts and minds as they navigate their own personal and shared journey in life. As one of our friends said as she was leaving "this was not a performance of a high school group. What they conveyed was far beyond their years and they should all be commended".
EXISTENCE - Spectacular show. Outstanding performances by each of the ten magnificent and talented dancers. Audience members cried, laughed, held their breath, felt each dancers’ journey and wanted more - Doing D-Town proud!
Existence was like a finger pointing in the right direction, shadowed by how these days younger people see things in life. Wonderful dancers each and every one off you. It’s been a pleasure watching you all.....
Absolutely stunning show my congratulations to everyone involved thank you thank you thank you
Amazing. Fantastic. Energetic. Inspirational. Raw and Honest. Thank you Joanna and Sarah Calver and the amazing dancers who gave everything of themselves tonight. Already looking forward to next year's performance.
Spectacular! YES!!! So, VERY MOVING to hear the words of loved ones about the amazingness of the dancers!!!!Moved me to tears, too.Loved all of the heartfelt words, but the one about BEAN was both touching and fun.Every one of those amazing young people would be fun to be with in a stuck elevator, waiting for help!