A 'moving' collaboration between dancers with disabilities and residents of our Byron Bay Village are preparing to take to the stage for a performance of a lifetime at Tintenbar Hall on December 2.

Sprung!! - a Northern Rivers community organisation that aims to represent physical and cultural diversity on stage, has been holding workshops at the Village with a group of residents aged between 75 and 98, in preparation for their stage debut.

Our seniors will perform as French characters in a cafe scene during our end-of-year stage show, 'Sprung!! Gala Performance', elements of which will ultimately become part of a larger, project to premiere in-line with Bastille Day next year (2019).

Under the artistic direction of Michael Hennessy, who spent nine years performing with the Sydney Dance Company, our Feros Care dancers have been learning theatrics and dance in preparation for their performance.

Also involved are renowned dancers Tara Coughlan and Max McAuley, who both live with Down Syndrome.

Positive living team leader Bec Stephens said Tara and Max had inspired the residents by proving performing is possible, regardless of age or ability.

"To see the beautiful connections made between our seniors and the dancers has been a privilege for all involved. The anticipation builds every week and you see their faces light up when the Sprung dancers visit and the music begins. Our 98-year-old resident Jilli Richardson put it perfectly when she said 'dancing is a joyous and terrifically marvellous thing'. There's something really magical about this project and the respect the participants and teachers have formed for each other. It's a collaboration we hope to extend beyond the upcoming concert as Feros Care continues to give seniors opportunities to contribute to the community and break the stereotypes around age and ability."

Sprung!! president Dr Robyn Brady said the project had not only benefitted the seniors, but also the dancers and choreographers who have been inspired by their zest for life and willingness to try new things.

"This project not only gives our dancers the opportunity to form intergenerational connections and a deeper respect for seniors, it also gives us the chance to showcase to the community that age and ability is no barrier if you have the will to give it a go," she said.

"It is well known that dance stimulates multiple brain centres and helps improve mood and memory and we've definitely seen that play out during our workshops the residents.

"It has been a great joy to observe the individuality in each of the senior dancers, and their courage to try new things despite a variety of physical restrictions.

"Their ability to create humour and to say 'yes' to life has been an inspiration to us all."

The weekly workshops have included group discussions on the role dance has played in the lives of the participants, as well as movement lessons exploring theatricality of common-place gestures, chair-based arm and hand choreography, and free dancing.

The workshops undertaken in our Byron Bay Residential Village form part of a broader Sprung!! community dance project which also involves Byron Youth Theatre and explores "the parade of life" through the lens of a French village cafe.

The December performance will form part of the larger project facilitated by NIDA-trained playwright and Suffolk Park resident Kate McDowell, and Michael Hennessy.  The pair are creating a full-length mainstream dance theatre experience that integrates characters and choreography from multiple workshops that will premiere at Brunswick Picture House on Bastille Day weekend in July 2019.

For those who'd like to see the 'work-in-progress', the community is invited to the Sprung!! Gala Performance, where our residents will be front and centre, at Tintenbar Hall.

Would you like to attend? 

When: Sunday 2nd December at 3pm
Where: Tintenbar Hall. Tintenbar Road, Tintenbar NSW 2478
Tickets & Pricing: Tickets available at the door and start from $5 and children are free.

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