Aboriginal dancers shine

"Back in my day I had nothing like this. So you know, for them to actually grab on to this opportunity and have a go, it's fantastic."

A former Bangarra dancer, Sidney Saltner, guided 23 talented young Aboriginal dancers from NSW high schools to perform Gapan, a dance theatre work inspired by the spiritual significance and medicinal power of ochre in Aboriginal culture.

The unique project, a partnership between Bangarra Dance Theatre and the department's arts unit, developed the dance skills of Aboriginal students through intensive workshops and performances.

Audition workshops for public school students were held in Sydney, Dubbo, Griffith, Grafton and Tamworth before the finalists were selected to train in Sydney at the Bangarra Dance Theatre studios.

All students were thrilled to be chosen to dance, none more so than Peel High School student, Karwin Knox.

"I was just begging to myself, just please let me make it in, and when I found out I did I was just all teeth, all happy and that," Karwin said.

After an intensive three-day workshop with the Bangarra Dance Theatre in Sydney in June, the 2012 Aboriginal Dance Company performed at Vibe Alive in Bendigo in August.

The students were divided into two groups and participated in a range of activities throughout the festival.

They were awarded ribbons for placing first in a number of categories and were announced as overall winners for the high school division with the two groups winning the gold and silver medals.

They performed Gapan at the evening concert.

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