Remembering Peter Schnierer - 08.11.18

The NAISDA family, Boards, staff, Developing Artists and alumni would like to acknowledge and celebrate the life of Peter Schnierer.

Peter was many things to many people; a passionate advocate for Aboriginal education, a lover of blues music, a staunch friend and family member. Peter was a member of the NAISDA Development Board in the mid-late 1980s.

His contribution was impassioned, articulate and powerful. He loved dance and the work of NAISDA. It is through Peter and others like him that NAISDA is where it is today.

We thank Peter and acknowledge his contribution to our growth and our journey. We acknowledge and pass on our best wishes to his family, friends and colleagues.


Following are some words from NAISDA Founder, Artistic Director Emeritus and Life Member Carole Y Johnson:

Peter Schnierer was a very important part of assisting the growth of Indigenous contemporary dance.  He became involved with NAISDA about 1985 and was a member of its Development Board for about five years between 1985 through 1989.  This was a very crucial time in the development of NAISDA’s organizational structure that supported the dance course.  I believe dance must have been very new to him and probably a bit exciting and strange.  But, he realized its cultural importance.  He understood that building dance as an urban artistic expression narrowed the gap between traditional cultural owners and urban people separated from their traditional roots.

Peter grew up in the Byron Bay area and then became a part of academia and government organizations.   People, who supported and surrounded NAISDA dance students, were artists and educators who openly expressed their sense of freedom and exuberant joy of life.  The students learned to socialize with people from many different national origins. I remember that early in his tenure with us, Friends of NAISDA had organized a boat ride as a fund raiser.  It was highly successful as the boat was filled to its capacity – probably a few hundred people.  Peter told me this was the first time he had been in an environment where so many black and white people socialized together and were clearly enjoying themselves. His statement surprised me.

Proposals and reports – that’s the essence of keeping an organization growing. All documents basically emanated from me.  I found having Peter on the board provided an additional writer.  He had read and digested all the material that told what we were doing and projecting for the future.  It was wonderful to have someone capable and willing to assist with necessary writing for maintaining an organization.  One day he came to the office and handed me a document that was essentially a business plan for organizational growth.  He had pulled together all the bits and pieces and put them into a coherent whole that made it easier for others to understand what NAISDA was about and to where it could grow.

This year from January to Oct 30 I was visiting the USA.  I hadn’t thought about Peter in years.   In August or September while sorting out documents that are to go into my file at the New York Public Library’s Jerome Robbins Dance Research Archives, I ran across a copy of the document that he had envisioned as a plan for NAISDA’s future.  I wonder if he was he looking down then to remind me of his work and that our paths had been as one for a short time.

– Carole Y Johnson, November 2018


For those who wish to Celebrate Peter’s life, a Memorial will be held:

Friday 9th November 2018

3:00pm – 4:30pm

NSW AECG, 37 Cavendish Street, Stanmore NSW 2048

The President, Cindy Berwick and members of the NSWAECG invite you to celebrate Peter Schnierer’s life. Peter sadly passed away in October 2018.

Come along and bring your memories and stories to share with Peter’s family and with each other; his colleagues and friends

RSVP: by 5:00pm Wednesday 7th November 2018