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Emotion21 dancers reveal inner selves at Fringe

14 October 2022 at 7:23 pm
Danielle Kutchel
Dance group Emotion21 will share their personal stories in an intimate Fringe fest performance.

Danielle Kutchel | 14 October 2022 at 7:23 pm


Emotion21 dancers reveal inner selves at Fringe
14 October 2022 at 7:23 pm

Dance group Emotion21 will share their personal stories in an intimate Fringe fest performance.

Emotion21 dancer artists with Down syndrome are set to rock Melbourne Fringe Festival this weekend.

The cast of seven dancers will perform at the festival for the first time in a special performance that combines dance with storytelling.

The performance, called Analects of Aliveness, has been choreographed as an autobiographical dance in which dancers share insights into their own lives and experiences as artists and people with Down syndrome.

Dancer Shea MacDonough told Pro Bono News that the troupe is looking forward to performing for such a large audience.

We love to dance. Every time we dance, it’s like the vibe is coming off us and we just love to do it,” MacDonough said.

The stories are incorporated into the routine, and each has its own choreography that the dancers have had to learn.

MacDonough said it had been “a lot of fun” to find out each person’s story and choreography.

Artistic director of Emotion21 Tristan Sinclair said the autobiographical stories had been “coalesced” into a group performance, with each having its own energy.

“Each of them takes you through a little bit of that particular artist’s world,” he explained.

The result is an intimate and revealing performance, sharing a piece of each performer with the audience.

“I feel passionate about dancing because I love to dance and I love to show people my style of dancing. I love to express it through this,” MacDonough said.

Sinclair added that the stories shared were about much more than Down syndrome.

“It is very humbling to have these artists share so generously their life experiences that are far greater than the fact they have Down syndrome. But that is something that everyone in this cast has in common, and it’s very significant as someone without Down syndrome to be given the opportunity to sit and watch and listen and speak with these people because it’s something that had I not found myself doing,” he said.

“It feels powerful and it feels humbling to have this community open up to all of us and share themselves so generously.”

Finding family

MacDonough has been dancing with Emotion21 for around ten years, and has loved every moment. She said she feels accepted for who she is when she dances.

“I get to dance alongside a few of my friends. And it becomes a family,” she said.

Sinclair agrees.

You feel incredibly embraced by this community when you get to know them, and very nourished by them. I’ve got friends that I know I’ll have for life.”

He said the group wants to prove itself on a bigger stage through the Fringe festival.

“We’re ambitious,” he said.

“It’s our first time being in the Fringe Festival and I think we needed to prove to ourselves that this was a space we could contribute to. We wanted to prove to our community and ideally prove beyond our community, that disability is worthy, it’s exciting, it’s illuminating, it’s entertaining.”

MacDonough hopes that people who watch the performance will come away with a better understanding of Down syndrome.

“I want people to be patient with people with disabilities, because I know it can be kind of hard to try to know us. I just want people like us to have the opportunity to actually do this performance because it’s something that we love to do,” she explained.

“We love to dance and share our talent on stage and to just be who we are, you know? And I want them to learn more about Down syndrome, because I find that it’s powerful and passionate.

“Our disability is something that we have, we can’t hide. It shows in the way that we dance. It shows in the way that we present ourselves. And that’s who we are.”

Analects of Aliveness is on at the Melbourne Fringe Festival from 15 – 16 October. Find tickets on the website.

Danielle Kutchel  |  @ProBonoNews

Danielle is a journalist specialising in disability and CALD issues, and social justice reporting. Reach her on or on Twitter @D_Kutchel.

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