Tide Change
Community Dance Workshop with Simon Stewart*
Alaine Haddon-Casey

Our first language is gesture. Before we learn to express ourselves verbally we express ourselves through physical gesture; facial and body expression. It's sometimes easy to forget how important physical gesture is in our range of communication skills. In this workshop, “Tide Change', Simon Stewart used the elements to return us to our foremost level of communication.

Focussing on the ebb, flow and energy of the tide we were asked to feel and express the movement of water. For some, this was the turbulence of a storm-tossed sea, for others the calm and gentle lapping of a lazy summer tide on a warm sandy beach, some eddied gently amidst crashing waves, still others were caught in the riptide of their childhood memories of swimming outside the flags. All flowed into each other, over and around – almost touching but carried away by the tide at the last minute.

When Simon uses the elements as a basis for creating movement he asks you to close your eyes and ‘feel' the movement in your mind. With music and voice he ‘weaves' water. This guided ‘meditation' is the impetus for physical movement as the body reflects the ‘mind-space'. Eventually the mind and body connect and the two become one with water.

As community dance teachers we are aware that many of our students have not received dance training and can vary widely in their levels of physical fitness and mobility. They can represent diverse age, cultural and ethnic backgrounds. However, most students express themselves physically through body and facial gesture every day and all have certainly experienced the elements of water, wind, fire and earth. Taking movement and expression down to the most fundamental level and adding the familiar element of water, Simon has provided a wonderfully powerful and portable tool for use in community dance.


©2003Alaine Haddon-Casey, Director,Gypsy Trail (ATS) Tribal Dance Company®

* Grant Simon Stewart of Broome trained in Sydney at the National Aboriginal Islander Skills Development Association (NAISDA) college of dance. A choreographer and teacher of contemporary Indigenous dance. Simon was an Ausdance WA delegate to Moving On 2000, the first National Community Dance Forum in Sydney . He has toured internationally as a dancer to the 8th Pacific Art Festival in New Caledonia and to France . Most recently Simon has worked as dance lecturer and co-ordinator for WAAPA/s Certificate III in Aboriginal Theatre programme in Broome. Now based in Perth Simon is a guest choreographer for WAAPA Aboriginal Theatre. In September, Simon will partner with Bernie Bernard to lead the Kellerberrin Dance Residency, as part of the Ausdance WA 2003 Wheatbelt Dance Residency project.