It was the 30th anniversary dinner for the Graham Smith Peace Trust last night. Guest speaker was Garry Stewart, artistic director for 20 years now of the Australian Dance Theatre. I love ADT and going to dance performances generally, so it was really interesting to hear from him. He started in the dance world after seeing a performance when he was a student – of social work no less – as a 19 year old. He said his calf muscles (or was it his legs, feet) ached every night for two years when he first started learning. He was quite old (for a dancer I mean) when he began, and had absolutely no background for this kind of life (not even sport he said), so what an amazing move to make.
I like to think that his social work orientation was not entirely lost though, in some of the more political work that he has done, and which he spoke about. Performances about refugee issues, terrorism (including a local connection with a performance about David Hicks and his detention in Guantanamo), robotics, movement and (dis)ability, the environment, nature, the self and more; community dance and indigenous connections. He also spoke about the way dance connects us with the earth, grounds us. How it enables communication without a common verbal language. He showed clips – I just love the way people move! (Here is something from You Tube to give you a flavour…)
And here is another with highlights from a piece about identity and the body..
There are heaps of ways to change the world, and changing it in our own way, doing our own thing and using our own particular talents and passions is inspiring to hear about and to take heart from. Hearing Garry’s story, and hearing again about the Graham Smith and the Peace Trust made for an uplifting and moving night. I was reminded of the story from Rebecca Solnit (again! I have a thing about her at the moment obviously!) about a species of moth which feeds on the tears of sleeping birds. She writes: “Moths drink the tears of sleeping birds. The birds sleep on, inadvertent givers. The moths fly on, enriched. We feed on sorrows, on stories, on the spaciousness they open up when they let us travel in our imagination beyond our own limits, when they dissolve the boundaries that confine us and urge us to extend the potentialities of our imperfect, broken, incomplete selves…”