The Next Generation NAISDA

Rebecca Varidel
6th Jul 2022

NAISDA Graduation Ceremony celebrates the next generation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander creative leaders

NAISDA Dance College welcomed Elders, community, arts industry and distinguished guests including NSW Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, the Arts and Regional Youth, the Hon. Ben Franklin MLC to celebrate its graduating classes of 2021 and 2022 at its Graduation Ceremony on Wednesday 29 June.

The Ceremony acknowledged graduating students across NAISDA’s four nationally accredited courses, including the inaugural cohort of a new Advanced Diploma qualification.

Amongst them was James Boyd, an Aboriginal graduate with connections to the Kunja and Muruwari people of southwest Queensland and Wakka Wakka nation in southeast Queensland. James was this year’s recipient of the Chairperson’s Award supported by the Commonwealth Bank of Australia in recognition of his positive contribution to college life and highly distinguished artistic and academic performance.

Certificate III students, Adina Donahue of Djabugay descent and Nomi Haji-Ahmad of Bardi descent, were the recipients of the William Rubensohn Foundation NAISDA Scholarships, which recognised their motivation and commitment to their studies.

The Joanne Harris Scholarship bursary program helps remove some of the barriers and stresses that students experience as they commit themselves to NAISDA’s rigorous training regime. In recognition of the continuing COVID-related challenges facing students, this year’s bursary program awarded support to all 2022 students to provide support and continuity.

NAISDA Chief Executive Officer Kim Walker commented on the important occasion in the NAISDA calendar.

“This is a day to celebrate the talent, drive and transformation of our graduating students. It is also a time to recognise the supporting role of family and community on their learning journeys. We were delighted that the Minister, Elders, Auntys, Uncles, elected representatives, Barang Regional Alliance and community members could come together in support of our young people.”

Now in its 46th year, NAISDA has nurtured the artistic and cultural development of thousands of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.

“I’m especially pleased to congratulate our very first Advanced Diploma graduates,” said Mr Walker.

The Advanced Diploma equips practising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists with skills to meet the ever-changing demands and opportunities in Australia’s dance and arts industry.

“Testament to this, are our Advanced Diploma graduates who have already stepped into professional opportunities with James Boyd joining Bangarra Dance Theatre; and Brianna Kemmerling and Kiara Wilson both working with NT Dance Company in Darwin,” explained Mr Walker.

Hosted by Master of Ceremonies, Barang Regional Alliance’s Operations Manager Gary Field, the celebration included a keynote speech from Narangga and Kaurna man, independent artist, cultural and creative leader Jacob Boehme.

Graduation also provided the occasion to unveil a large-scale artwork produced by NAISDA students in collaboration with leading artist and Guringai man, raised on Darkinjung Country, Grant Molony.

“We are extremely grateful to Grant for the generous sharing of knowledge and skills to produce two large-scale works with our students which framed the graduation stage. They beautifully reflect stories of Country, connection and culture,” said Mr Walker.

It is a busy time for NAISDA, with applications currently open to study at the national college in 2023. Mr Walker explained the College is looking forward to auditioning another cohort of talented students for next year.

“I urge aspiring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander dancers and artists aged 16 to 26 to visit the NAISDA website and apply to become part of the ongoing NAISDA legacy,” he concluded.

Photo by Lisa Haymes