Saltwater Freshwater Dance & Culture Camp 2015

Saltwater Freshwater brought together two of Australia’s leading Aboriginal choreographers Thomas Kelly and Taree Sansbury to mentor four male and four female local Aboriginal dancers in choreography techniques and how to teach dance to youth. Together they created a new six-minute dance piece for the 2015 (Our) Flash Mob performances.

Through community consultation, Saltwater Freshwater identified 20 Aboriginal young people aged 14 to 18 in the Unkya, Bowraville and Nambucca Heads Local Aboriginal Land Council boundaries to attend the free, three-day Dance and Cultural Camp.

The camp program focused on youth learning the new (Our) Flash Mob dance. Dance sessions were broken up by cultural workshops run by local Aboriginal cultural leaders who shared an array of local cultural practices with the young participants.

Free time sessions were built into the camp for youth participants to connect and yarn with the mentors and facilitators. Campfires provided further opportunity sharing knowledge with positive Aboriginal role models. The event culminated with the youth performing the dance for their families, key community leaders and Elders, followed by a bush tucker lunch.

Following the camp, participants performed to hundreds of members of the public at Bellingen Community Markets and the Coffs Harbour Jetty foreshores beach. They went on to form a new Aboriginal dance group, growing the Aboriginal dance representation on the Mid North Coast.

“Teaching the younger generation to do Indigenous dance is important. My uncle who taught me to dance always said, ‘You’ve got to pass all this on to the younger ones.’ I never thought I’d do that, and then I ended up doing that at camp.”
– Ian Mercy, peer mentor

“I thought the camp was fun, I enjoyed learning how to dance and I reckon my favourite workshop was learning how to play the didgeridoo with Uncle Steve.”
– Raymond Ellis, youth participant

“…our focus is around making sure that culture lives and grows and blossoms from generation to generation. And what you see today is the next generation of cultural leaders and their experiences connecting with their identity, community and country.”
– Kristen Collier, former Saltwater Freshwater Arts Alliance CEO

“It helped me to see the passion of Aboriginal culture in the kids, my personal growth was being refreshed, as we get so caught up in western society we forget cultural things”
– Reno French, Aboriginal support person