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NIDA collaborates with leading arts training organisations for ARTS8

Two NIDA Master of Fine Arts (MFA) students recently took part in a unique three-day pluri-disciplinary collaboration project, which brought together artists from major national training institutes for the performing arts.

NIDA collaborates with leading ARTS8 training organisations

Photo: Artists from leading national training institutes work together to create unique performances

Two NIDA Master of Fine Arts (MFA) students recently took part in a unique three-day pluri-disciplinary collaboration project, which brought together artists from major national training institutes for the performing arts.

Hosted by the National Aboriginal and Islander Skills Development Association Dance College (NAISDA) at their facility in Gosford, the student-centred project was designed to support critical and flexible thinking and the development of leadership capacity, and was spearheaded by ARTS8: Australian Roundtable for Arts Training Excellence.

Our membership to the Government-backed ARTS8 initiative forms part of NIDA’s ongoing commitment to providing high-level training to emerging artists.

Adam Deusien, MFA (Cultural Leadership), and Maya Cranny, MFA (Design for Performance), were part of a group comprising students and tutors from NAISDA, the Australian National Academy of Music, The Australian Ballet School, National Institute of Circus Art (NICA), Flying Fruit Circus, Australian Film, Television and Radio School (AFTRS), and the Australian Youth Orchestra.

Commencing on the Friday at AFTRS, students participated in a bonding and creativity workshop, before the project took them to NIDA for the collaborative NIDA/NICA production of Eurydike + Orpheus, which was followed by a post-show Q&A with the whole cast and crew.

The core element of the three-day initiative then followed on the Saturday and Sunday at NAISDA. The two-day intensive collaboration between artists involved an insight into cultural practices and creative process at NAISDA. Upon arriving at its facility, which is located on the culturally-significant Darkinjung Land, the group were treated to a smoking ceremony hosted by a former graduate of the school.

‘They led us through a series of cultural warm-ups where we explored the aboriginal indigenous dance as a way of warming up, which was really beautiful. It was lovely to see those young artists taking leadership roles around their culture and that being the starting point for our work,’ commented Deusien.

In the day’s first session, each individual or institution had the opportunity to demonstrate their skills through a performance. Circus artists performed an act, Deusien showed some of his work, while Cranny talked about her design work and the group watched films from the AFTRS students.

‘It was a really great start to examining what people are interested in and the languages that they use when they’re making and showing work,’ said Deusien.

Following the inductions, in the afternoon participants worked collaboratively to create an original work, which would then be performed the following day in front of students, tutors, the community and participants from the previous year.

‘It was marvellous. It was completely interdisciplinary. There were dancers working with musicians. There was also a beautiful piece created between a harpist and a dancer from NAISDA. A flute player came in playing her instrument while acrobats carried her. It was wonderful and a real exploration of different forms,’ said Deusien

The opportunity allowed NIDA students to explore their own practice and how it could fit in with the ways other disciplines work.

‘As a designer, it’s really important to know what’s available to me so I can utilise all the different practices that are out there. Once I am aware of what’s out there first hand and able to take on board those ideas, I’m able to start thinking about them in the context of my own work. This will prove very valuable during those times I’m in the conceptual building stage with a director,’ said Cranny.

The final performance was an infusion of different arts forms and practices that created a unique spectacle. Overall the experience proved to be a valuable one for the participants and networks were created for future collaborative work.

‘There is something really grounding about the experience for us in terms of the content we were working with because it was so close to these artists from NAISDA. I also think that the more dialogue there is between different cultural systems in making performance, the richer everyone’s experience is,’ commented Adam.

‘It wasn’t just the production, it was the process. By the end of the weekend there was this mutual feeling of inspiration. Everyone was really excited and looking forward to future collaborations and eager to keep in contact,’ added Cranny.

To learn more about NIDA’s MFA Cultural Leadership and Design for Performance courses, we’re hosting an InfoNight on 16 August. Find out more details and register to attend here.

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