A girl is on stage with her right arm pointing straight out participating in the Catalyst workshop

Catalyst Dance Masterclass 2013

The Accessible Arts Catalyst Dance Masterclass Series 2013 was held at Bangarra Studio/Theatre at Walsh Bay in August and September.

Facilitated by three of Australia’s leading choreographers, Sue Healey, Dean Walsh and Philip Channells, Masterclasses were tailored to dancers with and without physical or sensory disability, and to dancers with mental illness or acquired brain injury. Each choreographer ran one of the three Masterclasses in a progressive skills development process.

The workshop process focused on choreographic devising methods and strategies for creating new contemporary dance theatre. Dancers were involved in a collaborative process that involved improvisation, task-based exercises and individual creative choices unique to each participant and choreographer’s method and process.

After dress and technical rehearsals with each choreographer, the final, public performance was held on a Sunday night in September 2013 at Bangarra Studio/Theatre and drew a capacity crowd.

With a remit to develop the integrated dance sector, Accessible Arts augmented the Second Skin programin 2013 with a screening of Dance is Friendship, a dance film by Matthew Massaria and a guest performance of Blue Sky Open Door from Sunnyfield.

Accessible Arts CEO, Sancha Donald, is pleased with the galvanising effect Catalyst is having across NSW and believes the initiative has created statewide momentum, with a burgeoning of inclusive dance practice across the arts and disability sector. This is significant in NSW, which lacks a professional, integrated performing company unlike Victoria and South Australia, respective homes to Back-to-Back Theatre and Restless Dance Theatre.

“Catalyst is proving to be both a support and a stimulus influencing the arts sector as well as the disability community. By working with Sunnyfield and Matthew Massaria we reflected the collaborative way in which the sector is advancing,” Sancha Donald said in September 2013.

Sunnyfield’s Community Culture and Arts Coordinator, Gaye Flemming agreed with Donald saying “Accessible Arts is a truly inspiring peak body, the professional team are continuously developing, elevating the arts and disability creative bar to the high standard that the art world demands. At the same time the Accessible Arts team is able to demonstrate truly person-centred practices and professional guidance that only can inspire others to follow suit.”

Accessible Arts plans to take Catalyst into 2014 when the focus will be on artistic development for dancers with disabilities. This will involve an intensive career development program, performance and dance training and will also actively engage the contemporary dance sector.

Click here to read about the Dancers who participated in 2013