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    FEELING THE BEAT: Choreographer Gilbert Douglas guides Francine, of Jung, during a Wimmera Dance Challenge workshop on Saturday.

Art is... dance challenge


Art is… festival leaders have made a start on an innovative Wimmera Dance Challenge, a key aspect of this year’s festival program. 

Festival manager Sarah Natali said a group of dancers spent Saturday performing a routine at Jubilee Hall in Horsham, which would form the basis of an ‘augmented reality’ project.

“It went really well and we got some excellent footage,” she said.

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Zimbabwean dancer Gilbert Douglas choreographed the dance to be used throughout the challenge, ran workshops to learn the dance and led proceedings on Saturday.

Ms Natali said footage of the dancers performing the African-inspired piece would be edited to create a tutorial, which would form the basis of the challenge.

She said there would be three versions of the dance, including a ‘sit down’ option, an ‘easy’ dance and a more advanced option.

“For the next phase of the project, we are in the process of building a green screen studio, which will fit three people,” she said.

“People can go into the studio, perform the dance and then fill in their email address.

“Their dance will be emailed to them, but in the finished product they will be dancing somewhere else, not in the studio. For example, they could be dancing on the moon or on top of Mt Arapiles.

“We have also filmed dancers to create a backdrop, so with the green screen, it can look like you’re performing with back-up dancers. We will then edit all the dances together to create the Wimmera Dance Challenge.”

Ms Natali said she hoped the tutorial and green room would be finished this week, with the wider community to become involved by the end of the month.

“People will be able to learn the dance from the tutorial and then book the green screen to come to their studio, school or workplace,” she said.

This year’s festival, ‘Art is… unexpected, take two’ runs from May 28 to June 6.

Organisers have been busy working on a diverse schedule, which features online and in-person events.

“This year’s festival runs for 10 days, but as with every year, we are running some events in the lead-up,” Ms Natali said. 

“Along with the dance workshops, we had a poetry panel online via Zoom last week. That was a lovely event. We had lots of in-depth conversations about poetry, colonisation, indigenous issues – all sorts of things.”

Critically acclaimed spoken-word artist Amy Bodossian will lead a poetry workshop at Jubilee Hall on Saturday, from 10am to 4pm.

There will also be a Zoom version on May 11. 

“Participants will receive free poetry prompts, which are a reminder every day to do at least 10 minutes of writing,” Ms Natali said.

“During the festival, on June 2, we will have a poetry slam, where people can share their poetry or read a poem they like. 

“If you want to write a poem but don’t want to perform it, we have people who can do that for you.

“You don’t have to participate, you can just come along and enjoy.”

Ms Natali said the festival offered a range of activities to suit a variety of tastes, including workshops, photography exhibitions, a ‘Galleries on the side’ competition and walking tour, performances, children’s activities and more. 

Ms Natali is taking entries for this year’s Art-Is-Bald Prize until May 28.

Budding photographers can enter portrait and landscape categories, with entries on display throughout the festival.

Entry is free.

People can visit website for more information about the competition, upcoming events and a 2021 festival schedule. 

The entire May 5, 2021 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!