The cycle of life in the Gwydir Wetlands has inspired a new dance from members of the Clontarf Academy at Armidale High School.
The ‘Ibis Dance’ has been choreographed and recorded as part of a partnership project between the Armidale Clontarf Academy and the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH). Catering for Aboriginal boys in years 7 to 12, the Clontarf Academy is part of Armidale High School and aims to improve educational outcomes for students and equip them to contribute more meaningfully to the community.
OEH Senior Wetlands Conservation Officer Daryl Albertson said the partnership project was an opportunity to share insights and learn from one another. To the local Kamilaroi Aboriginal people, the Gwydir River, its floodplain and wetlands (west of Moree) are a significant part of their heritage and a place of important cultural sites.
“The ‘Ibis Dance’ is a response to this significant cultural site. It was choreographed by two members of the Armidale Clontarf Dance Troupe and is performed by nine dancers in three parts. Firstly, flocks of adult ibis fly high above the clouds, circling on wind currents across the land. When flooding rains occur the flocks of birds then come together and fly to their nesting sites in the wetlands, where they raise their young. Finally, after feeding and growing strong in the wetlands the young ibis leave the wetlands with their parents and scatter once more across the land. Mr Albertson said.
As well as choreography and performance, the Clontarf students have had the opportunity to video the dance and are in the process of editing the material they have gathered with the intention of producing a YouTube clip.
“It’s been a great process that has taught the boys many skills which they will be able to use in other areas of their schooling,” Mr Albertson said.