NIDA and NAISDA creative collaboration signals strong future for Australian arts and culture
A week-long collaboration between the National Institute of Dramatic Arts (NIDA) and NAISDA Dance College, brought together aspiring designers, directors, dancers, and choreographers for an intensive exploration of creative partnership, cross cultural storytelling, and multidisciplinary approaches to performance.
The unique program of collaboration first began in 2019. This year, Wakka Wakka and Kombumerri dancer, choreographer and performer Katina Olsen led the invaluable learning experience ‘Crossing the Line’ at the NAISDA campus on Darkinjung Land.
Leading First Nations artists and cultural contributors also included Dr Nerida Blair, Nardi Simpson and Uncle Gavi Duncan. The program of on Country learning, workshops and sharing encouraged students to consider cross cultural arts practice and explore the space between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Knowings and non-Indigenous perspectives. The week culminated in a creative showing of works developed by the students during the collaboration.
“There’s no way to write a formula for collaboration, you learn to collaborate as you’re collaborating. The week was about getting to know each other, how to relate to each other, how to bring your skills to the room, how to give space, take space and share space – which are all incredibly valuable learnings for those pursuing a career in the arts,” Katina explained.
The week also gave students the opportunity to step into different roles, learn about multi-disciplines and build pathways and networks.
“The week gives students the chance to work intensely alongside people from diverse practices. They’ll carry this understanding and respect of different creative disciplines with them into their professional careers,” Katina concluded.
This was the first year NIDA design students took part in the collaboration. Bob Cousins, Course Leader in Design at NIDA explained the relevance.
“The focus of the week has been on the process, not the outcome. How we work together, develop ideas, and collaborate. We’ve seen dancers contribute incredible costume designs and design students really embedded in the movement of pieces. It’s been beautiful watching the collaboration unfold,” he said.
The collaboration has grown into an important and established part of the NAISDA and NIDA annual programming. NAISDA Unit Manager Angie Diaz explained that the process enables students from both organisations to refine skills, build relationships and prepare for careers in the creative industries.
“It was wonderful to see NIDA directors and designers collaborating with NAISDA First Nations dancers and gain insight into creating with young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists. This is an important platform towards building culturally safe and supportive creative spaces and conversations to navigate that space between Indigenous, non-Indigenous and diverse communities,” Angie concluded.