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Birrang | The Blak Dog by Rayma Johnson

On Thursday, 3 October, Regional Arts NSW visited NAISDA Dance College to attend a viewing of dance artist and choreographer, Rayma Johnson’s new work-in-development, The Blak Dog. Rayma had been selected through the Birrang program to take part in a two week residency on-site at NAISDA, in Mount Penang.

The company of dancers included Rayma’s three children. The tender performance moved many in the room to tears. In the Q&A session afterwards, Michelle Silby from Ausdance expressed that with just ten days for the choreographer to prepare, she had anticipated seeing a presentation selection of vignettes and ideas rather than the cohesive work that was performed. Rayma explained tha working for so long as freelancers, they don’t put on a showing they put on a show.

The Blak Dog explores ideas around what the dancers described as ‘an epidemic affecting our community.’ The suicide rate in Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities is now three to four times the rate of suicide among non-Indigenous Australians This very serious social issue is one close to the dancers’ hearts.  ‘When I began researching this piece, I realised that I have been close to 9 people who have committed suicide,’ Rayma said.

Rayma plans to expand on the show and tour it regionally.

Regional Arts NSW is a Birrang partner with ArtsNSW, Ausdance NSW, Carriageworks, AFTRS, Bangarra Dance Theatre and NAISDA.