First Nations Resident with Lucy Guerin

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Jacob Boehme. Photo: Bryony Jackson.
Jacob Boehme. Photo: Bryony Jackson.

A new residency program for Senior First Nations dance artists has been announced by Lucy Guerin Inc and BlakDance, with Narangga and Kaurna artist Jacob Boehme appointed the inaugural First Nations Resident.

Starting in 2021, this annual opportunity has been created through a new multi-year partnership between BlakDance, the national industry and producing organisation for First Nation contemporary dance based on Turrbal and Yuggera Country in Brisbane (Meanjin) and Lucy Guerin Inc in Melbourne (Naarm).

Each year, the funded studio residency will support one senior First Nations artist with a fee, production support and four weeks of dedicated studio time at WXYZ Studios – Lucy Guerin Inc’s rehearsal space in North Melbourne. They will also be invited to take part in a range of other opportunities to deepen engagement with the local dance and First Nations communities. 

An alumnus of the Victorian College of the Arts, Jacob Boehme is a multi-disciplinary theatre maker and choreographer, creating work for stage, screen, large-scale public events and festivals. During his residency at Lucy Guerin Inc, Boehme will be developing an aspect of Wild Dog, a multi-year research and revival project that connects Wild Dog/Dingo Dreaming, its songlines and ceremonies, from South Australia to far north Queensland. 

"Over the past five or so years, Lucy and LGI have demonstrated a dedication to First Nations dance through various commissions and appointments," says Boehme. "They have done the work mostly under the radar with a quiet commitment to lifting up the voices and work of Indigenous choreographers and dance makers, so it is with great honour that I accept the LGI First Nations Residency as I embark on the development of a major new work with contemporary and traditional dancers from across Australia,"

This new partnership between BlakDance and Lucy Guerin Inc reflects the organisations’ shared goal to support First Nations artists at various career stages and create stronger connections between First Nations artists and non-Indigenous organisations. This opportunity is designed to both celebrate and support senior First Nations dance artists’ work by providing a space for the development of new work or ongoing research into their artistic practice. 

The program will develop with artistic self-determination at its core. In addition to determining the cultural protocols and allocation of resources for their own residency, the current Resident will also be invited to play a key role in choosing the artist for the following year. 

The First Nations independent contemporary dance sector is severely underfunded," Merindah Donnelly, the Executive Producer of BlakDance, says. T"here are no companies on federal multiyear funding and of the hundreds of artists making work only a handful have producers, which means that securing funding for the development of their work is disadvantaged resulting in minimal visibility and significant disempowerment of our culture bearers – from the world’s oldest surviving dance canon. Compounding this issue is the overlooking of senior artists, therefore we are delighted to be addressing these sector issues in partnership with Lucy Guerin Inc.”

 Also starting in 2021 is LGI's multi-year partnership with NAISDA Dance College. This program will provide a new pathway into the professional world with a paid graduate internship and two secondments for current students annually. 

This new partnership between Blakdance and Lucy Guerin Inc generates a new connection with seminal dancer and choreographer Jacob Boehme," says Guerin. "It celebrates First Nations artists and acknowledges the vital role their creativity plays in our culture and our identity as a nation. We are delighted to welcome this exceptional and knowledgeable artist as our inaugural resident. I’m looking forward to seeing this program grow in the coming years with an ethos of self-determination planted firmly at its centre.”

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