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Want the most enthusiastic crowd?

Want the most enthusiastic crowd?

The Spark Festival is a residential arts festival for adults with intellectual disabilities curated by Artistic Director Adrienne Coulter and put on by The Junction Works Ltd. Each year a group of artists runs 9 workshops over two days culminating in a performance by the participants. Think hip-hop dance to vocal workshops to music therapy and animation.

Many of these adults do not have the same barriers to being expressive as able-bodied people which results in the most enthusiastic crowd I’ve ever had the privilege of engaging with. I’ve had my love cup filled up by lit up faces and generous hugs from complete strangers, from the moment we first met.

It’s been an honour to work with other incredible artists such as choreographer Alison Shirley. We want to take this festival beyond NSW and make it an interstate, national and international event. The world is thirsty for a performing arts festival for adults with intellectual disabilities.

Is dance a way of talking?

Is dance a way of talking?

Consider that dance is a language. When did humans start dancing? When did you start dancing? At what age? Human movement is a language that is fundamental to human existence since the beginning of time.

At this stage of your life, how limited or how vast is your vocabulary? If you were to start dancing on the dance floor tonight, how many of your ‘go-to’ moves were discovered when you were 14 years old? Or 13 years old? When was the last time you added a new piece of vocabulary to your movement language? This takes discovery.

HOT TIP:

Try an experiment and change one aspect of your movement in your body as you go through your day today. Notice any changes in your mood or perspective.

🎉Photo credit: Alison Shirley Photography

Queer Lip Syncing

Queer Lip Syncing

The queer community has a long love affair with lip syncing. For some of us, lip syncing has been about gender expression, for some it’s a tongue-in-cheek perversion of mainstream culture. It’s an ordinary and somewhat expected sight at our festivals and parades. And it’s not just the men dressed up as women or the women dressed up as women, or those of us who express androgyny, it’s the women dressed up as men. Drag King style. It shocks me when someone hasn’t heard of Drag Kings before.

This photo is from a Drag King Battle that was held in Melbourne and hosted by the notoriously handsome, Rocco D’Amore. Through the sheer power of crowd persuasion, I won the battle and left with $100 and a trophy in my hand. My song? Set it Off by our own, Timomatic.

I always wanted to do live drag – where I actually sing. Laurie Anderson style. Performance art has a long love affair with gender.

Performance Anxiety

Performance Anxiety

Give a lip sync challenge to a team of ‘A-type’ personalities and results-producers in life, and what are you going to get? Performance anxiety. Where’s my prop? Can I use props? Will there be a microphone stand? Do I have to hold a mic and what if it gets in the way of my dance moves? Will I have learnt the lyrics to my song by Friday? Which song should I pick out of these two? How come I still look like a man in this wig?

How much can preparation circumvent performance anxiety? Does it give us the confidence and self-backing to perform or is it better to put it all aside and simply show up on the night? Some preparation I’m hearing about from my colleagues includes everything from the classic singing into a hairbrush to dedicated mirror-work, lip control and being with oneself in the mirror. Learning lyrics, trying out dance moves and studying the lip syncing work of others…

Here’s one of my favourites from Emma Stone – check out that mouth!

Lip Sync Battle…

Lip Sync Battle…

Whoever put me in charge of our work End of Year function may now be regretting it. I’ve been busting to get my hands on a group of people I can wrangle into doing a Lip Sync Battle. In fact, I’ve been dropping it into conversation and party suggestions for over a year. Finally, after a colleague mildly suggested I do something that gets everyone out of their comfort zones, the opportunity to battle it out while lip syncing to a pre-chosen song became obvious.

How it works:

Each contestant takes turns in lip syncing sections of well-known songs, each one of them trying to lip sync better than the other. No one knows the song the other has picked. Only the person performing knows which song is coming next.

Here’s one of the early Jimmy Fallon battles:

Do You Remember?

Do You Remember?

I’m thrilled to share this collaborative piece with you – a work of art with Garth Ernstzen. The presence of art, beauty and movement breathes life into the world. May this art find wings and visit you wherever you are, leaving you moved and perhaps a little more alive. If you have words for what you experience, I would love to hear them.

Featuring & Choreography – Danica Lani
Hair & Makeup – Katrina Villegas
Creative Direction, Direction & Editing – Garth Ernstzen, Garth Ernstzen Photography and Media

Song credit – Jarryd James – Do You Remember

Love Danica

 

When Art is present

When Art is present

I have tears rolling down my cheeks, sitting face to face with my dear friend jazi after our shared birthday together. The words of acknowledgement have poured from me to her and now she is pouring words back to me. I get to be who I am because she is in my life and she gets to be who she is because I am in her life. She says something about all of my talents and skills and suddenly my internal dialogue pipes up, like it has something important to say.

 

Yeah, all of those talents you have that will go to your grave with you.

 

I catch it like a sharp edged object and examine it in my palm. What is that about?

 

Suddenly I realise what’s been in the way of sharing my talents. I’ve been waiting for someone to come along and tell me how to make money from my art. Before I share it. I remember, if it’s about the money, it’s not it. And I don’t need to make money from my art to live. I’ve designed my life that way.

What if I could be free to simply share my art for the sake of having art expressed in the world? I mean, that’s the kind of world I want to live in – a world where art is present. As a gift to the world.

In love with Christine & the Queens

In love with Christine & the Queens

I wonder if being an artist means being true to oneself, being so authentically and wholly oneself that when art is expressed it is as an expression of Self.

Christine gathered her Queens from the stages of drag, dedicating many of her creations to them and to all transgender individuals.

Could the presence of art arise inside of community and what would that look like?

Thank you Kimberlite for introducing me to my newest artist love affair!

Love

Danica

Body Party

Body Party

I first met Luke Wilkie on the set of the Australian television series, Offspring. We were both hired as dancers from the Body Electric crew to dance in a club called “Tuff Muff“ (I kid you not) behind Deborah Mailman (**in awe**), Asher Keddie and cast. (Spot the leopard print dress!) I love falling in love with people on the dance floor.

A while later I discovered that Luke had a skill set and impressive library, not only as a much loved and followed instagrammer, but in music production. He did a remix of one of the songs off my debut ep micromovements and our collaboration has been growing. We essentially create electro-pop music that makes you move. We’ve created a couple of original tracks, some covers and have performed at a few underground warehouse parties in Melbourne. We are called Body Party. I look forward to sharing more of our journey with you…

Body Party walk 281012

Love

Danica

Teaser

Teaser

I’m in the mood for teasing. On my last trip to Melbourne, I met up with a photographer friend, Garth Ernstzen. Two years ago he started making a jacket that he’d asked me to model. Being someone who likes to create multiple intentions and fulfil on multiple outcomes, I asked him if he would also be willing to film a new dance routine I’ve been working on. He said yes!

When I first heard this song, it touched my soul immediately. Check out this next sentence: S’ra and I were in our uber and this song came on the radio so I reached for my iphone and shazam’d it then downloaded it straight away onto my itunes. I mean seriously, 10 years ago I would never have said that sentence. I digress.

Do you remember is by Brissie boy, Jarryd James. His voice is so soulful. I immediately wanted to choreograph movement and to create a lyrical style piece to his song. I’m super excited to be viewing the video edits for this at the moment with Garth.

And looking forward to sharing with you…

Love

Danica