For Annette Carmichael the concept of bringing dance to remote communities of Western Australia was a project long overdue.
The enthusiastic producer and regional contemporary dance facilitator for WA has had a burning passion for the form and is thrilled to be part of the latest initiative by the government: Future Landings.
“As a child I was desperate to be a ballet dancer,” she explains, “Growing up in a small town in Port Hedland you only have limited access to dance teachers who happen to be there at the particular period. It was only later when I moved to Bunbury that I actually had a chance to train more formally as a dancer.”
Having completed a degree in arts management her current role is particularly apt, for Carmichael is committed to creating large scale performances with remote communities and engaging local talent through the program.
“At Future Landings we focus on contemporary dance,” says Carmichael, “And that’s a very different world to jazz or ballet, it’s open to anyone, it’s inclusive. All movement has expressive potential and this is a form where walking can be as meaningful as the most spectacular jump.”
Following the success of the pilot program in 2011 (when the communities of Busselton, Bunbury, Denmark and Albany were visited), in 2013, between April and October, the project will be hosted by the regional towns of Hopetoun, Jerdacuttup, Ravensthorpe, Broome, Karratha and Dampier.
“It takes about a year to scope and prepare and when I visit communities it’s really all about listening to what the people want, and what is needed,” says Carmichael. “This is a unique opportunity for local artists and choreographers, as well as communities with little or no experience and exposure to professional dance work, to be part of creating something that is reflective of who they are at this moment in time.”
Each performance brings together professional artists and choreographers to create three unique performances; Because of You (Broome and Kimberley), Men of the Red Earth (Karratha and Dampier) and Wheel of Fortunes (Ravensthorpe, Hopetoun and Jerdacuttup).
“Each particular town is unique and the multi-dimensional nature of the project implies that we are very conscious of ensuring that the needs of the community always come first,” says Carmichael.
In Karratha there are currently between 16 and 18 men who are developing Men of the Red Earth, while in Broome the community are exploring the role and process of parenting and grandparenting in Because of You. Interestingly, in Broome, there are also a number of children who are engaging with this work and their contribution, according to Carmichael, is “as important as any other community member”, reiterating Future Landings imperative of ensuring that community concerns as a whole are explored and enacted by locals.
Unlike the other two town centres, whose communities are focusing more explicitly on the dance aspect, it is in fact the aspiring writers, costume makers and set designers in Ravensthorpe who are keen to get involved.
“There is a writing culture in this town,” says Carmichael, “and the program has already aroused the interest of those who are interested to see how text will be incorporated into the performance.”
Having had the benefit and experience of running the program in 2011 and following up with extensive preparation, Carmichael is confident that Future Landings will continue to contribute to engagements that are both meaningful and directed towards ongoing issues that are relevant in the communities.
Broome – Because of You: Group 1 Tuesday 14 May; Group 2 Tuesday 11 June
Ravensthorpe – Wheel of Fortunes: Thursday 25 July – Sunday 28 July
Karratha – Men of the Red Earth: July 2013