It was just so rewarding and exciting to assist my friend Danielle Wilson by filming behind the scenes of her project Dance for Recovery. She was supported in her vision by two community arts workers, Avril Duck and Melissa Robertson working for Connecting Community Voices, ISAY project, funded by Far North Queensland Volunteers inc, and several other creatives in music, sound and film: Dez Green, John and Mark Edwards. A couple of members her dance class and some of the wider dance community came to participate, although not all participants were dancers and this was not a requirement.
There was a fantastic response well beyond the circle of Danielle’s friends (most people attending did not know Danielle or each other) to attend this workshop and some people had heard about it on the radio, through the newspaper or the web or through friends; the workshop gave the chance for many people to connect beyond their immediate home. Danielle is all about accessibility and so the class was open to everyone over the age of sixteen. Danielle said she loved that the workshop brought people together from Cairns, Cardwell, Mission Beach, Tully and Innisfail, to express and find their emotions about the cyclone and release them through movement.
I have known Danielle since taking my children to her free movement classes in Mission Beach when they were little. She still works with children but has branched out to work with adults and so Dance for Recovery was an important extension of that process. I vividly remember the way in which she created a sacred and creative space for children of the Cassowary Coast to express themselves and my children have never forgotten the classes. I knew the participants were in for something special even before we had begun. Danielle and I had been talking about a collaboration at some point as I wanted to experience photographing and filming dance, and Danielle wanted to document and be creative with making a dance film. It was amazing to have this opportunity to support a friend and work on my own creative practice. Danielle and I have often crossed paths at workshops for writing, and other projects in the Cassowary Coast and we respect each others arts practice.
Even as we speak Danielle is looking at a draft mix of some of the footage as well as still photographs I took of the workshop Dance for Recovery. I so hope that she is happy with how I am beginning to piece together the story of the project. I am looking forward to working with Leandro Palacio from ABC Open who makes some amazing films that have quite an artistic flair to them. As we filmed on Thursday Leandro especially encouraged me to experiment with my perspective, work the height of the tripod and develop a steady hand-held technique, he directed me to move, just like the participants guided by Danielle in their dance.
To prepare for working on the edits with Leandro I thought it would be helpful to sift through 23 minutes of footage and find the parts which:
1- Help convey the story of the project and performance.
2- Look varied, creative and arty and have some continuity with each other.
3- I am pretty sure he has sound to as my camera has some limitations with how well it collects sound.
4- Are free from camera shake or wonky hand-held technique.
5- Do a draft premix longer than we need to try out some editing techniques and mixes for the final documentary.
6- Look at doing a longer interview with Danielle, either me or Leandro can do this, I could maybe pop over to Danielle’s to do this, she was pretty tired after the workshop.
In the process of filming and photographing I was sensitive to the participants, especially due to the topic of the workshop, cyclone, recovery and finding calm, and Danielle let participants know who I was and that they could opt out of being filmed and that I was approachable and wouldn’t mind whatever their decision. I look forward to their responses to the final documentary as well.
It was great that everyone, participants and artistic support, seemed keen to help Danielle by being in the documentary and a few were happy to talk on camera afterwards even though they were on the way home after long day. The rest of the time they forgot I was there and just went about their workshop. It’s always good for a documentary film maker to be invisible and exist primarily in the movement of her camera! A special challenge with filming this documentary was working with the concept of faceless portraits, and avoiding the human face as much as possible.
Dance for Recovery was funded by FNQ Volunteers, Queensland and Australian Government, Isay project, Connecting Community Voices, and involved many volunteers and a small budget for production for contributing Artists.
Nature – so much peace and calm to be found in her rainforests, by her oceans with sunrises and sunsets full of glory, at the top of her mountains or in planes where we can perch and see the topographies of landscape, and at other times she is a tempest and brings storms, earthquakes, floods, cyclones and we know we must wait until she calms down.
Just as she gives us our food, and our air, she takes and destroys when her fury comes. Yet, she is no she or he, just an entity created by something. She does not have a will (I don’t think so anyway), and yet we do. We have a will to decide how to deal with what nature gives and what nature takes.
Today I went searching blogs that have covered some of the perilous things that have happened with nature in the last two years. You might find it interesting and moving to read some of them. I will be visiting a few of these blogs over the next few days and have bookmarked them in this post to remember those people still healing long after most news crews have gone. Why not visit their blogs and drop them a line to let them that you too are thinking of them.
I asked myself today when will I feel totally free of that pesky Cyclone Yasi, and I think it will be closer when I have completely sorted the junk from two house moves (yes its still not sorted), not see any ruins at all in our main Tully St (it is looking much better than it was!), and when most people are smiling regularly and realise all the good in their daily lives and when I write more about other things. Our community is well on the way to recovery and yet the feelings of joy will be predominant when the physical reminders are repaired more fully and when people take a deep breath when the next big storm comes and calmly prepare without memory running after them and giving them bad dreams. If this is what a natural disaster is like, how much worse human made disasters, wars, hunger, poverty, lack of education, prejudice, fleeing homelands and so on.
Today I was saddened by a boatload of refugees meeting with disaster and by the level of bullying in our schools. It will be awesome to have a world where people don’t have to flee or leave their homelands, and are also welcome everywhere. A place where kids will always feel safe and included at school. I think many of these things will be whole blog topics in themselves one day when I have done some research and found some stories to inspire. I don’t feel down rather I feel determined to find the points of inspiration in our world, people, organisations who are striving to make a difference.
Bloggers, writers, observers, artists can play a role in looking at the ways in which we can fix our world and encouraging each positive moment until it grows. Sometimes it takes a bit of heart to do this, but knowledge and the power of a story can never be underestimated.
A creative workshop designed for inclusive participation – created by Danielle Wilson, who also takes Free to Move Classes in Mission Beach. Isay supporting and some other creatives will be coming along. Find out more from Melissa and Avril. If you live in the Cassowary Coast why not book!
Should be awesome! Watch this space for some reporting back.