20. 10. 2015

Field Day

Ok, so I am back from the Field Day in the Riverland. What an experience! The event is huge and a big day for Agriculture, farming, food and animals. In fact I haven’t seen so many tractors in one place. So this was quite an experience to try and take dance to the crowd of approximately 15,000 people.

A lot came out of this first trial of the Dance Jungle Gym. And there were clear positives and negatives from the experience. Actually, not necessarily negatives, just things that arose that we had not considered happening that made things tricky. And until we had tried it out, we couldn’t be certain.

The Dance Jungle Gym is definitely something that intrigues people with over 120 members of the public taking part. The bold colours and playful looking structure invites people in but more so for children and teenagers. It was always going to be hard to get adults in to try it out. Of course they have a mindset that exploration of this kind is a kids thing. But funnily enough the adults that were willing to have a go really enjoyed it, saying how much fun it was. So it makes me question how we approach the different age brackets.

Young children were so excited to investigate, but of course audio instructions can be difficult for very young children. So guiding them through with verbal instructions from another person worked extremely well. They were able to connect much quicker in this way. Teenagers and children older than 6yrs were happy to use the audio instructions and find their way through. Sometimes they would get lost or confused about where they should be up to but most of them were willing to start again or go through the Gym many times. Adults that were willing needed very little help exploring their way through with the instructions.

I have noticed that there is a bit of a leap to go from using the Dance Jungle Gym to trying it out on the mat without the structure. There seems to be a fear of getting it wrong or forgetting something. I also noticed that if you continue the experience by saying ‘next step is trying it out on the mat’ and take them directly there. There is little time to think about what might happen and they are focused on finishing the experience.

Many people were willing to film and upload their dance, but of course there will always be those that are resistant. But it isn’t about the documentation of the dance but the experience itself. So allowing them to go as far as they wanted is part of the learning and investigative experience. We have also created an app to go along with the experience, and we have already had over 50 downloads and 62 people have uploaded their version of the dance to be shared with others.

Were people interested in this concept of learning? I believe so. Not only were the responses positive but they also thought it a great way to teach through the many ways it uses sound, touch, description, action and interpretation.

We are about to head out to the Rose Festival in Renmark with the Dance Jungle Gym, so we are now looking at the outcome and looking to smooth it out even more. We are recording the audio for clearer description and timing. As well we are looking at the build of the Gym, plus the way we can reach a broader audience. Hopefully it gets more people interested in trying something new.

Larissa McGowan

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Workshop dates TBC


Dance Workshop


Larissa McGowan and Country Arts SA



About the Artist

Larissa McGowan

After studying dance in Brisbane and Melbourne, Larissa joined Australian Dance Theatre in 2000 and has since toured extensively with the company winning multiple awards for Best Female Dancer including a Helpmann and Australian Dance Award. Larissa appeared as a guest choreographer on two seasons of ‘So You Think You Can Dance’. She has created work for WOMADelaide, Link Dance Company, Sydney Dance Company, Tasdance and premiered her first full length work, ‘Skeleton’ at the 2013 Dance Massive.

Country Arts SA recognises and respects that we are living and creating on Aboriginal Lands and we are committed to working together to honour their living cultures.