Yinaagirbang (many women) are guiding me and holding me as I sing and dance with space afforded to me by the Critical Path fellowship.
Being in Wiradjuri Ngurambang, sharing food, sharing language and sharing dance with Aboriginal women in Kandos and Mudgee creates a warmth in my belly and gives calm to the busyness in my head.Making fire, reading the stars, singing, dancing and walking in Wiradjuri Ngurambang with my children and my husband is medicine. They are core collaborators in my research. They are connected to me through blood and skin, muscle and bone. My dance flows through them like a river. I seek a deeper knowing of my grandmother’s Wiradjuri language, of my language. I seek to understand better the connection between my language and my dance. Listening to Country, feeling vibrations from Country and being in spaces with other Wiradjuri speakers is supporting me. My research is Spirit centred. Insights and moments of unlocking happen in the silence between conversations, during dances and mid song cycles, sitting with fire and drinking tea. I’m mid-way through my fellowship and at 51 I feel mid-way through this life. Lots has happened and there’s lots to come. Where do my songs and dances belong? Is there a holding space for them? Are there many holding spaces for them? Bala-dhu waga-nha yindyamarra yinaagirbang buwa-ga-nhumi-nya. Bala-dhu waga-nha yinaagiribang mawam-bul. Bala-dhu waga-nga yinaagiribang dhurarra – I dance with Yindyamarra for all of the great women who have come before me. I dance for the women who are with me now and for the women who will come after me.
– Jo Clancy, 2023 Critical Path First Nations Fellow
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 went 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 representative at the Honolulu Festival in Hawaii since 2016 and fosters an ongoing Sista collaboration with the Raven Spirit Dancers, Vancouver.
Jo Clancy has been awarded 2023 First Nations Critical Path Fellowship, supported by Create NSW.
Image credit (top): Smoking my Wagana women with our family burl. Photo by Brigitte Grant.