The Aboriginal Centre for the Performing Arts in Brisbane (or ACPA) is one of the key success stories in improving training and employment outcomes for young and aspiring Indigenous performing artists.
ACPA’s work contributes strongly to Council of Australian Government’s (COAG) Closing the Gap agenda in the key areas of maintaining, valuing and strengthening Indigenous cultures and improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People’s levels of skills, training and employment.
ACPA attracts students from urban, regional and remote communities across Australia, including Gurrumuwuy (Clive) Munyarryun and Sheena Thorne from Elcho Island, who are studying music, theatre and dance at ACPA.
What made you choose ACPA?
Clive: I heard about ACPA through friends. When I heard about it, it gave me ideas to learn more about dancing and learn more about mainstream genres. I’ve been dancing since I was 4 years old and wanted to learn more. Growing up I just taught myself mainstream movement from watching TV and movies.
Sheena: I heard about it from previous students that have been through ACPA. I was thinking of going to NAISDA but after speaking to an ex-ACPA student decided to audition for ACPA instead.
What do you wish to do with your dance?
Clive: I would like to have my own dance school for people of any age who would love to learn dance. I would also like to take what I’ve learnt back to Elcho Island as I think they need some new and fresh movement.
Sheena: I would like to be a choreographer and choreograph pieces for dancers. I would also like to take my training from here and take it back to my community and teach the young people what I have learnt.
Is this your first time living away from home/ being in Brisbane?
Clive: This is my first time in Brisbane and living away from home. I found it hard to move away from home and leave my family and friends. I cried all the way from Elcho Island to Darwin, as I found it so hard. I was very happy when I got here and saw my friend Sheena was here. She made me feel more comfortable knowing that she was here, also because she speaks my language.
Sheena: I’ve been here for my audition. But this is my first time moving away from home. I enjoy the weather down in Brisbane as it’s not as hot as Elcho. The walk to my nearest shop here is much closer as well. The first day I moved I was having a hard time, I was ready to leave the second day but ACPA made me feel at home when other students said to me “we all miss our home as well” and the staff at ACPA told me they will always be here for me.
How do you like it? What’s easy to get use to and what’s hard?
Clive: There are a lot of things that are different here in Brisbane to Elcho. I think the public transport is difficult. I am still quite scared to catch buses because I think I will get lost. I think it’s funny the way people have to walk on a certain side of the road/bridge because there is so much more traffic and people here, you have to be a lot more aware here when walking throughout the city.
Sheena: There are lots of things to do in Brisbane, I don’t think I’ll ever be bored. I find that there is so much traffic here, so many people and cars. The time difference between Brisbane and Elcho Island is interesting. I am still getting use to the time here and have been making a couple of trips in the middle of the night at 3am, feeling like it is earlier in the night as it would be back home. My body is still adjusting to the time difference.
How are you liking Brisbane so far?
Clive: I do really like it here; I am slowly warming up to Brisbane. I think I’ll miss Brisbane now if I go home for holidays.
Sheena: I love it. I think I want to stay here for holidays in fact, because I love it that much.