Indigenous dancers off to train in Sydney

Hunter Mains and Kiahn Ladkin. Photo Jeff Dawson

Aslan Shand

Hunter Mains and Kiahn Ladkin have been selected to join the 2018 NSW Public Schools Aboriginal Dance Company.

‘We learn how to move our bodies more, it feels more connected,’ said Hunter who was also selected to participate in 2016.

The program runs workshops throughout the state with the aim of developing the dance skills and cultural awareness of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in the style of contemporary Indigenous dance.

Over 1,000 students applied to participate in the program statewide and the northern rivers workshops had around 100 students.

Ultimately, only thirty children were selected for the Sydney-based workshop.

Hunter and Kiahn, who are in year nine at Byron High School, will work with leading dancers from the Bangarra Dance Theatre during two two-week trips to Sydney that will culminate in performances as part of the State Dance Festival and the Schools Spectacular.

Kiahn, who has joined the dance program for the last two years said, ‘We learn heaps of stories and when I’ve been down to Bangarra, I’ve made heaps of connections and learned so much more about my culture – it feels right.’

‘Every line that is part of the dance has meaning,’ said Kiahn’s mum Melissa Ladkin.

‘It’s about connection to culture and learning the stories.’

The dance group is  half girls and half boys and Kiahn and Hunter agreed that it is really important to have that balance.

While the girls and boys learn different dances they ultimately come together at the end of the performance.

‘The boys’ stuff is really hard,’ said Hunter.

While there is a mix of off-country and on-country participants Kiahn says, ‘The boys we’ve met are really committed to their culture.’

‘There are a lot of boys who participate who are living on country.’

On or off country, Kiahn and Hunter were keen to get as many local Indigenous kids to the workshops this year.

‘We went to the audition and took other people from our school. They had a lot of fun,’ said Hunter.

It will cost each of the girls around $4,000 to pay for flights and accommodation to participate in the program and they have previously received support from the P&C and their dance teacher Kate Histon at Byron Dance Dynamics.

‘The whole school is so supportive and previously we’ve raised money with things like mufti days and raffles,’ said Kiahn.

If you are interested in helping the girls raise money to participate you can contact Byron High on 6685 8188.

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