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The Canberra Times | In The City Magazine
Australia's foremost indigenous
performing arts organisation,
Bangarra Dance Company, has
helped set a challenge for CIT design
Second year design students
are busy at work producing interpretations
of Bangarra dance costumes, with the chance
to have the best pieces modelled at the Canberra
Theatre on the opening night of Bangarra's
For students Linsey Dewick and Pollah
Howe, the project has presented them with an
opportunity to expand their skills and design
outside of their comfort zone.
"I've never thought about designing for dancers
before, but it's quite interesting," Dewick says.
"There's a lot of fashion designers who have
collaborated with dancewear people, I didn't
realise that until quite recently."
Dewick is passionate about the psychology of
fashion and the social and cultural implications
of dress. He says the project is a good way of
exploring another culture.
"I looked into Aboriginal communities and how
they would express a lot of their messages about
land and spirituality throughout dance and I
thought that would be an interesting thing to look
more into. I didn't know much about it," he says.
"I wanted to look into how to design for
Aboriginal culture without appropriating their
culture. I wouldn't create something with an
Aboriginal print on it because that would just be
cultural appropriation. I would make something
that's my own but inspired by that culture. That's
something that I've been quite conscious of this
Dewick drew inspiration from Bangarra
production Belong, which he says explores what
it means to be Aboriginal in the 21st century. He
decided to take a contemporary approach and
looked into indigenous hip hop.
He has emphasised the lower parts of the
garments, volume and repetition to express the
importance of the land to Aboriginal communities
and incorporated bright colours typical of
Howe agrees it has been important for the
students to make the designs their own. She also
found inspiration in Belong and how it related to
her Cambodian background.
"Belong is about a culture changing, it's about
how Aboriginal people face the different stages of
culture and what it means to belong," she says.
"I felt so inspired because through my own
experiences and cultural background, everybody
is facing the same cultural shock. It's a different
experience, but if you have a culture that has
been taken you want to feel what it was before.
"There's two things that fight in you, but both of
those make you unique."
Howe has used the idea of contrast as the
focal point of her designs. Contrasting black and
white as well as shape and texture, she aims to
express the idea of contrasting cultures. Howe
has incorporated a Cambodian print which she
said represents what traditional culture brings to
a modern society.
The students each created one wearable
experimental piece and designs for 10
contemporary ensembles, from which they are
creating two total looks.
It's a project that Dewick and Howe agree they
have both learned a lot from.
"The way they dance and the way they bring
people together is really inspiring," Howe says.
"The way everyone works in a team is so
amazing. It's really good that they've given us
the opportunity to do this, it's a really interesting
concept and we're having fun with it."
The Canberra Theatre Centre will select eight
garments to be modelled in the foyer on the
opening of Bangarra's production of BLAK on
Thursday, July 11.
Dewick is keeping a blog about his design
process and experience with Bangarra at
A partnership between CIT and one of
the country's leading dance companies is
helping inspire Canberra's future designers.
RACHEL PACKHAM writes
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