NAISDA Dance College, Australia’s premier First Nations performing arts training organisation, has a proud tradition of producing the next generation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander performers in an environment rich in cultural learning, practice and connection.
Joshua Doctor is a first-year student at the College from Lightening Ridge. His mob are Bigambul, Cubbi Cubbi, Gamilarrraay and Yawaalaraay. Joshua said NAISDA has given him the opportunity to really grow and explore his creativity.
“It was a big change for me, the study and the discipline,” he said. “But with dedication and effort, I quickly saw tremendous changes in my body and attitude.
“I love to dance so I made a commitment to my studies up front. I had to push myself hard in the beginning and learn to pace myself too, but it paid off.
“The NAISDA trainers are amazing and I have learnt so much from them. They don’t just teach us different techniques and dance styles, they also show us how to listen to, and reflect on our bodies, which is so important for a dancer,” said Joshua.
Like all NAISDA students, Joshua had a lot of support from the College to help make his transition to training as smooth and safe as possible and maximise his learning journey.
NAISDA has a range of programs to support students’ physical, emotional and mental health and wellbeing, and its Developing Artist Support Team works closely with students to provide support and guidance. Language, literacy and numeracy (LLN) foundation skills support is also available across all teaching at NAISDA.
“I was a bit homesick when I first moved out of home, but I knew I had support from the College,” said Joshua. “The trainers made me feel very comfortable and I knew I could talk to them about anything that was troubling me.”
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture will always sound the heartbeat of NAISDA Dance College and underpin all elements of its courses. Its relationship with Cultural Tutors, Elders and First Nations communities across Australia is at the centre of NAISDA learning.
“The training and the cultural learning have really helped me better understand our culture and to feel a greater connection to it and the stories of dance,” said Joshua.
To ensure prospective students’ safety in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, NAISDA has moved this year’s audition process online. In 2022 it will continue to offer all four of its curriculum courses which provide students with nationally-accredited qualifications.
Its curriculum is delivered by qualified trainers including former principal dancers, respected choreographers and cultural tutors from many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. NAISDA’s 75% completion rate is much higher than the 38% national average for equivalent vocational education and training courses.
At the College, student accommodation includes on-campus cottages within walking distance to the College for those over 18. The NAISDA Homestay Program provides home environment accommodation for students under 18 and those who may require additional support to complete their studies.
Joshua, who is currently completing a Certificate III at the College, is planning to continue his studies in 2022 by advancing to the Certificate IV course.
“In the future, I would like to go out west, on Country, and run a small dance and cultural program there. I think it would help little towns like mine really feel part of something,” said Joshua.
As well as the only arts training organisation in Australia to deliver nationally accredited performing arts courses specifically for First Nations people, NAISDA is a gathering place for people to come together and celebrate cultural values, practice and identity. A place to commemorate significant cultural events and ceremonies. A place of connection where students can exchange ideas and learn from one another in the spirit of cultural affirmation, inclusion and reconciliation. And a place where people dance to tell the stories that cannot be told unless they move.
“I feel so grateful to have the opportunity to study with NAISDA, learn from others and explore my own creative potential,” said Joshua.
If you are a First Nations person between 16 and 26 with a passion for dance, culture and the performing arts, and you want to take your training to the next level, there is still time to apply to NAISDA.
“Just go for it,” said Joshua.
NAISDA’s audition team is available for a yarn (toll free) Monday to Friday from 8.30am until 5pm on 1800 117 116, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Find out more and apply online here.
NAISDA applications close 1 November 2021
Images: Lisa Haymes