University News Ochre bridges the gap through dance

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There is a lot of talk about ‘bridging the gap' between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians and usually it is in the context of addressing the imbalance in health and life-expectancy.

However, a dance company which is The University of Western Australia's Cultural Precinct's Company in Residence is ‘bridging the gap' by bringing Indigenous dancers, choreographers and musicians together with their non-Indigenous counterparts and audiences in the name of reconciliation - with spectacular results.

Ochre Contemporary Dance Company, based in a former Masonic Hall now owned by UWA, not only collaborates with the University's Cultural Precinct, but has links with its School of Music, Berndt Museum, Symbiotica, University Club and residential colleges.

Ochre's Founder and Executive Director, Louise Howden-Smith OAM - winner of the Arts and Culture award in this year's West Australian of the Year Awards - said the company welcomed UWA's Indigenous students and encouraged them to meet Ochre's dancers and choreographers, many of whom were also Indigenous.

"Each dancer has his or her own magic," she said.  "Although steeped in the training of cultural dance, the young emerging artists have been trained in contemporary and classical techniques.  This exposure to both cultural and technical rigour has fostered a unique and vast sense of artistry in our dancers whom perform with both a deep connection to the earth and in contrast can dance en pointe which conjures a sense of the ethereal."

Ochre has a new exciting season coming up, with excerpts of text by Indigenous author Kim Scott (That Deadman Dance) and Stephen Scourfield (As the River Runs and Unaccountable Hours) being translated into a series of short dance works. The completed works are to be performed at two events as part of the UWA WINTERarts season - Articulating Landscapes and Dancescapes: Stories through Dance.

This event will be a fascinating insight into the creative process as Indigenous and non-Indigenous dancers from across Australia come together with the choreographers to explore the captivating, multifaceted surrounds of Western Australia through short powerful works.

Articulating Landscapes will be performed at 7pm at Masonic Contemporary, 6 Broadway Nedlands, on July 22, 23 and 24.

Dancescapes: Stories through Dance will be performed at 6.30pm at the University Club of Western Australia on 30 July.

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