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Birrang Residency Goes to Griffith Dancer, Rayma Johnson


As a Birrang partner organisation, Regional Arts NSW is pleased to announce Rayma Johnson as the recipient of the 2013 Birrang Creative Residency at NAISDA.

This two week residency will take place in the studios of NAISDA, from 23 September to 5 October 2013. To assist the creation of original work, the Birrang Creative Residency also offers technical resources, accommodation and a budget for wages.

During the Creative Residency, Rayma will work on a dance theatre piece with the working title tHe BlAk DoG – a metaphor for depression. The work will explore themes, ideas and stories relating to depression and the affect it has on being an Aboriginal person. Collaborators include Kerry Johnson, Peta Strachan and Gavin Ivey.

“Through the work I would like to bring about awareness of depression, that it can happen to anyone at anytime in our life,” the artist says. “I would also like to offer hope. I am a strong believer in culture and the healing and strength that comes from it.”



Rayma was born in Griffith NSW she is a Descendant of the Wiradjuri People. She began her dance training with Redfern Dance Theatre in 1987 and later studied dance at AIDT known today as NAISDA, currently she is a freelance Performer/Choreographer/Dance Teacher based in Sydney.

Rayma’s professional performing career spans 15 years, some of her performances include; Atlanta Olympic Games, Bangarra Dance Theatre ‘Fish’, Albert David’s ‘Bipotim’ and ‘Giz’, the opening ceremony and ‘Wiridjirribin the Lyrebird’ for festival of the dreaming, ‘Spinafexgeko’ to launch the centenary at Centenial Park, and Jason Pitt’s ‘Scars’. Rayma performed and choreographed many of the annual Woggan Ma Gule performances at the Botanical Gardens, and also performed in many of the ‘Deadly Awards’ at the Sydney Opera House, under the choreographic and artistic direction of Kerry Johnson. In 2003 Rayma choreographed, directed and performed in the Indigenous section of the Rugby World Cup.

Rayma has had the opportunity to perform and workshop in her own community of Griffith. She is a strong believer in staying connected to, giving back, and sharing the wealth of dance knowledge she has acquired over the years. Rayma performs and choreographs with Peta Strachan as part of JANNAWI Dance Clan. Recently they have both created a school show of the same name and perform at pre-schools and primary schools in and around the Sydney area.


Focused on expanding indigenous dance horizons in NSW, Birrang is a new professional dance development initiative supported by Arts NSW, coordinated by Ausdance NSW, Regional Arts NSW and Bangarra Dance Theatre in partnership with NAISDA Dance College, Carriageworks and the Australian Film, Television & Radio School.

Commencing in 2013, Birrang is dedicated to building capacity within the NSW Indigenous independent dance sector and providing professional creative development opportunities for NSW Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander dance artists.


Image:  Rayma performing in Griffith. Photo courtesy of the artist.