First Nations stars shine in dance for climate hope

Cosmos Magazine


Cosmos is a quarterly science magazine. We aim to inspire curiosity in ‘The Science of Everything’ and make the world of science accessible to everyone.

By Cosmos

By Rhiannon Clarke

An ambitious project hopes to inspire a movement for climate action through dance with First Nations’ stars.

Western Australian choreographer Annette Carmichael has brought together a team of 25 artists working across dance, sound, and design to create a vast work.

Performed in instalments at five different sites, across a 1000km tract of land, The Stars Descend tells a new story about Australia’s climate.

The group’s call for interconnected action to halt climate change will run from 17 March to 1 April 2023.

The goal of the project is to highlight the significance of the protection and revegetation of a 1000km wildlife pathway called Gondwana Link which stretches from Margaret River (Wooditjup) on the West Coast to Kalgoorlie (Garlgula) in WA’s interior.

“The Stars Descend tells a contemporary story that is inspired and informed by consultation with First Nations Elders, scientists, artists and ecological groups,” Carmichael says.

Stars are powerful symbols of hope, agency, and action. They represent ideas of deep time and the interconnectedness of people and the natural world.

“The aim of this project is to create extraordinary memories that will transform how people see and care for country.”

Also in Cosmos: another sort of First Nations stars

The team described as ‘First Nations Stars’ includes a number of noted First Nations artists, including: Janine Oxenham who was most recently choreographer on Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company’s Panawathi Girl; Simon Stewart, a graduate of NAISDA and lecturer at WA Academy of Performing Arts; Rachael Colmer, who has performed in a number of Carmichael’s previous works; and Torres Strait Islander dance artist Sonya Stephen.

Also part of the project is renowned Australian choreographer, Chrissie Parrott AO, and Australian Dance Award winner, Adelina Larsson Mendoza.

Other members include former member of New Zealand’s Atamira Dance Company Pare Randall and Russell Thorpe, a dancer with Co3 Contemporary Dance.

Thorpe will join Oxenham as one of two soloists who perform as the “stars”, alongside large casts of community performers.

The community ensembles have been drawn from a diverse mix of regional people, including farmers, scientists, conservationists, nurses, and artists.

The project has been in development since 2020 and has resulted in the creation of a methodology for delivering arts projects called “Distributed 15”.

It delivers on-the-job training and development for regional producers and artists, while also improving the well-being of regional communities through increased participation in creative activity.

Commencing on Friday, 17 March 2023, each performance will take place in an outdoor location that showcases the biodiversity of southern Western Australia.

The audience can watch a single chapter or travel for 16 days and witness all five instalments, at: Margaret River (17 March); Northcliffe (19 March); Borongur (24 March); Fitzgerald Biosphere (26 March); and Kalgoorlie (1 April).

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