Our day in the park 2019 (Photo gallery)
Article by Paul Malek, Photography by Jayden Hicks
As fifty eager and excited Contemporary Dance students gathered outside the National Gallery of Victoria, you knew something truly special was going to eventuate that day. After an overcast morning and a forecast for more clouds, the sun came out at just the right moment and would remain for our entire journey.
Our fourth annual day in the gardens began.
Even before we were able to cross the road with the mass of young dance artists dressed in bright colours and patterns, you could feel the energy was charged. As we journeyed into the Alexandra Gardens you could hear the rolling of chatter, laughter and happiness throughout the group. Even just two weeks into their year you can tell this group was bonding beautifully.
We gathered by the same tree we do every year and placed our belongings down. A familiar speech delivered by our Artistic Director Paul Malek, describing his 3 guides of life and improvisation would ensure that what happens next would result in an open session where anything could happen, and as always, it did. A brilliant session of discovery, curiosity and adventure came next with no direction but the occasional announcement by Malek, pronouncing a number loudly on his way to counting to 25 over this hour and a half session. No music to guide anyone’s choices, just the sound of nature, and those within in it. A true journey into self-discovery, reminiscent of children playing with no judgement or fear of being wrong. It was pure heaven to witness.
A 15 minute reflection followed where all dance artists gathered their notebooks without speaking and sat separately throughout the garden space. Some participants, drew pictures, others wrote poetry, mini novels and some did nothing at all but sit.
Then we all sat in a circle, as one by one people were able to enter the space and offer something about themselves, whether through movement or voice, some personal, some private, others political and some just plain fun and fabulous. Our Contemporary Course Director Daniel Jaber began with what turned into a 15-minute improvised solo, cutting shapes within and around the central space as something he whispered into someone’s ear was passed on Chinese whispers style around the entire length of the circle. This is something I think we will all remember for as long as we live.
What a beautiful way to begin our journey, what a year awaits, what an incredible group of human beings gave their all on this day. Cannot wait for more to come. Thank you one and all.