Filming with Sensitivity: The Sacred Space of Healing through Dance

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Dance for Recovery – photographs by June Perkins

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.

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Dance for Recovery – Photographs by June Perkins

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.

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Dance for Recovery – photographs by June Perkins

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.

June Perkins

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.

Wonders and Perils of the Natural World

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Nature Takes, Nature Gives – By June Perkins

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.

Blogs on Disasters and Aftermath

http://belshaw.blogspot.com.au/2010/09/sunday-snippets-nz-earthquakes-tomorrow.html

http://belshaw.blogspot.com.au/2011/02/christchurch-earthquake.html

http://blogs.newzealand.usembassy.gov/ambassador/2012/02/michele-petersen-remembers-february-22nd/

http://blogs.redcross.org.uk/emergencies/2011/08/new-zealand-earthquake-worldwide-support-helps-families-recover/

http://blog.fema.gov/2012/02/year-of-reflection-one-year-anniversary.html

http://blogs.crikey.com.au/croakey/2011/02/24/on-media-trauma-and-the-christchurch-earthquake/

http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/christchurch-earthquake/4693057/The-day-the-earth-roared

http://phukettsunami.blogspot.com.au/

http://marinedebrisblog.wordpress.com/2012/02/16/one-year-later-japan-tsunami-aftermath-and-debris/

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/may/08/japan-tsunami-nurse-blog-comfort-survivors

http://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/04/28/day-by-day-a-personal-story-from-japan/

http://rotowhenua2.blogspot.com.au/2011/02/earthquake-personal-view.html

http://fourpawsandwhiskers.blogspot.com.au/search/label/earthquake

http://nathanaelnz.wordpress.com/2011/02/23/christchurch-earthquake-22-february/

http://alancox.me/2011/02/27/christchurch-earthquake-my-story/

http://markmcguire.net/2011/03/05/social-media-and-the-christchurch-quake/

http://heatherellis-photography.com/stories/personal-quake-of-christchurch/

http://mareeturner.co.nz/christchurch_blog2/

http://jkts-english.blogspot.com.au/

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Studies of Sky – by June Perkins

Dance for Recovery

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.

Final Selections, March Flies and Anchors

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June Perkins – The Journey

Preparing for an exhibition is like preparing for a birth – only you know the exact date (not a rough estimate give or take a few) and you have to meet it. Everyone is there to watch, not just your partner or other nominated birthing coach.  The contractions of an exhibition are strong – time to select, print, mount, and add the text near the photos.  Deep breath, continue, another deep breath. Time to publicise, invite, cater — yikers get a move on girl!

Will people get that this exhibition is sharing a part of my family? Part of my community?  Our journey in the last year? If only I had more time to prepare.  How many about-to-be parents do you think have said those same words?

Preparing this exhibition has been a journey, enjoyable but just a bit nerve wracking as it comes to fruition.  I can’t say pregnancy was that easy though – especially the first child.

Labour in all my cases at the end part was fairly fast though – lucky we got to the hospital on time and stayed there awhile to wait even when they told us to go home.  Otherwise I’d have some baby born on a road by a canefield stories to tell.

During my pregnancy I remember almost permanently basing myself in a cold shower all that time ago – and wishing we had an air conditioner.  We were in Townsville at the time and it was so hot, and no rain! We were poor uni students living from hand to mouth. I wrote a few poems, might try dig them up and share them ‘Tropical Mum.’

Today we live in the wet tropics, and although it can be mighty humid, we are blessed with rain – like today – just enough rain to cool it off and not a big wet, just perfect wet.

Today we had surprise drop in visitors, keenly into photography and bookmaking, and headed off to the Murray Falls, and I took along my dearly beloved camera.

It was inspiring being with people who love photography as much as I do, and who take things slow so as to observe what is around them.  For once I was not the one at the back always stopping whilst my family call out, Where are you Mum?

It was amusing to watch the kids catching food for our pet bird – grasshoppers and march flies.  We all mused whether blue on tablecloths and hats really attracts March flies and how if you kill one March fly all its friends come around to attack you.  What wisdoms do you know about March flies?

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Bushgirls just wanna catch bugs – June Perkins

The girls were full of zest in their quest for bugs for food for others.   Future naturalists or zookeepers?  I wonder which?

After we said farwell to our visitors at the Falls we went to take a photograph of an anchor.

The inspiring story of the anchor will be included in the exhibition.  I took several photographs of Christine, the owner and a few of my family interacting with it, and she took one of us.  I clicked this one of my son sitting on the anchor at the end.

Whenever we are busy it is a time to remind ourselves of the true anchors in our lives. What anchors us to joy or does joy anchor us?

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Anchored, by June Perkins

(c) June Perkins, all rights reserved.

Experiences of Epiphany – in the ‘Big Smoke’ Part 3

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West End Markets – June Perkins

Saturday Morning  10th March

The morning of the aftermath presentation arrives and my friends ask if I’d like to go to the West End Markets before my talk.  It seems like a good idea to quell the nerves.

It is something to behold though, we arrive to a mellow saxophonist sitting by the entrance.  The car park is almost to capacity but we are directed to a spot near an oval and park a short walk from the stalls.

The market itself is a sea of people.  We are moved on a wave of humanity and have almost no individual identity.  Stopping to look at stalls is a mild relief but hard when you want to hop back on the wave and move.  It’s crowd surfing on the edge for someone who now has the soul of a country girl.

My hosts are apologetic saying they usually come later and it’s not quite this fast moving sea.  They are tired out by the moving wave.  I stop to find some material made flowers, and the seller of these is a very arty looking young lady who also has an array of colourful scarves. I will place one in my hair as goodluck for the looming presentation.

I keep my wits about me, to make sure my son is not swept away by the wave.  Karen orders some pumpkin and curry puffs for a small snack.

We head off to where there is usually music, but instead there is a loud performance and a couple of people are in what appears to be a television studio on the go.  It could be pantomime, I am not sure.  We don’t stop long.  It’s not our cup of tea.

Soon we escape though and sit under a large avenue of trees and Daryl dives back into the sea to grab coffees and a hot chocolate for us.

Karen tells me that she grew up in the country too, and isn’t that keen on the state of the market today;  they like to come when it is less crowded.  She tells me about other markets in the area and their character.

Daryl tells us about the trees and how they had been roped off for a long while to recover from all the trampling on the ground near their roots andthe  disease they had.  Many trees have been lost.  The hope is that the break from people and treatment will assist them to survive.  I share a little of our lost trees in Tully and the cyclone hit areas. So many humans love trees – and associate them with memories.  I wonder what happened to the lost Kauri Pine out the back of our old place in Feluga.  It was so tall and so attractive to birds that nested there.  Now it’s just a photograph.  I wonder if the wood was put to good use.

My son chatters as well, about all the things dear to him and what he’d like to do for the rest of the trip.  He is keen to go to the movies that evening or afternoon if we can.

Soon we are away again, back to Daryl and Karen’s for a brief break before heading off to a café near the Queensland Museum.

They drop me and my son off as we are there early to prepare before the talk – and they will return later.  We are at The Café waiting for Miranda, Scott and Solua to arrive.  We seem to be first on the scene.   Whilst we are waiting we notice people hiring picnic baskets and going and sitting on the lawn to be served as if they are high class society people with butlers.

Miranda arrives with her brother Roly – and we take a table ready to have a last minute discussion before we head off to the Museum to present.  Scott and Solua are not far behind and discussions begin.

I ask my son to photo document, and he takes to his task with relish.  I realise how much he has been watching me take photographs.  He is not at all scared to take on this role.

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Break from the Wave – June Perkins

To read the account of the Aftermath Presentation at the Museum click here.  I’ve posted it at ABC Open.  But our Brisbane Adventure doesn’t end there …