birrirra bandhung | 2021
Jo Clancy is a Mother, Daughter, Sister and Aunty to many. She is a First Nations Choreographer, Dancer, Teacher and Mentor. A Wiradjuri woman born and living on Darug and Gundungurra Country. Jo commenced her full-time dance training at NAISDA Dance College in 1990 and then went on to Western Sydney University where she became the first Aboriginal person to gain a BA in Dance in NSW. She founded her company Wagana in 2007 and is currently Head of Cultural Practice at NAISDA. Her works include Bangalang for the Commonwealth Youth Dance Festival, Glasgow, Sum of our Ancestors for Dance and the Child, Copenhagen, Gaurii for the Commonwealth Games Art and Cultural Festival 2018 and Wirawi Bulbwul for Dance and the Child 2019. Wagana have been the Australian representatives at the Honolulu Festival in Hawaii since 2016 and foster an ongoing Sista collaboration with the Raven Spirit Dancers, Vancouver.
Jo makes dance with and for her community as a legacy for the continuation of NSW Aboriginal dance and storytelling. Her practice draws upon her connection to people and place. She draws inspiration from people and places she feels open hearted with and works with children, young people, dancers and artists, who are in turn, open hearted with her. My dance collective Wagana means ‘dancing now’ in my Grandmother’s Wiradjuri language, a language she and many other Aboriginal people were denied to speak in the wake of colonialism.Through Wagana, I seek to connect and empower Aboriginal women to their First Nations’ heritage through the sharing of cultural dance, songs and stories. My dances and songs come from an embodied and spiritual knowing inherited from my grandmother, my great grandmother and undoubtedly all of the great women from my clan who have come before me.