US dance course ‘valuable opportunity’

Co-founder of Gasp! Dance Inclusive mixed ability dance project Hahna Briggs. Photo: ODT file
Co-founder of Gasp! Dance Inclusive mixed ability dance project Hahna Briggs. Photo: ODT file

After five years in the field of inclusive mixed-ability dance, Hahna Briggs will travel to the United States next month to train with the best.

The former Caroline Plummer dance fellow and co-founder of Gasp! Dance Inclusive mixed ability dance project will travel to Eugene, Oregon, for a four-week intensive course with DanceAbility

Created by Alito Alessi and Karen Nelson in the late 1980s, DanceAbility is a world-leader in the field of inclusive dance, and has trained more than 600 dance artists from 45 countries.

Briggs said attending the intensive course would be a valuable opportunity to network with other dancers and bring new knowledge of inclusive dance back to Dunedin.

The course covered a broad range of topics, including improvisation, choreography, and methods for incorporating very diverse dancers in lessons and performances.

For the past five years, Briggs has worked with friend and colleague Jenny Newstead to lead the Gasp! Dance Inclusive programme.

‘‘At Gasp! Dance Inclusive, we value movement exploration and unique performance, and we look for opportunities to challenge our dancers in different ways.

‘‘Our dancers really love it and, over time, it’s great to see them growing in confidence and taking on leadership roles.

‘‘It’s very special to be a part of that journey.’’

The majority of dancers involved in Gasp! Dance Inclusive have learning disabilities, intellectual disabilities, and/or are on the autism spectrum. Briggs and Newstead are keen to expand this to also involve more people with physical disabilities.

‘‘Our classes continue to grow from strength to strength and I want to continue this momentum through professional development,’’ Briggs said.

Having done a variety of performances, Gasp! Dance Inclusive is now taking on the new challenge of creating a dance film, with funding from the DCC Creative Communities.

★ To help with the course costs and other expenses, Briggs is running a Boosted fundraising campaign with the aim of raising $2500.

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