WARRNAMBOOL College’s Kalay Warriors dance group has won the award for best arthouse production at the Wakakirri Secondary School Dance Spectacular.
The Kalay Warriors comprises 16 indigenous girls and the award-winning dance tells the story of the stolen generations — indigenous children who were taken away from their families.
The arthouse production award is one of the four major awards for the annual event.
Warrnambool College assistant principal Adam Matheson said the troupe’s appearance at the dance spectacular was its first major public performance. He described the award as “a great thrill”.
“We were against schools that had 250 students dancing and had massive props,” Mr Matheson said.
“Our story stood out,” he said. The troupe also won awards for best concept, best original story and best team. Mr Matheson said the concept for the dance came from former Warrnambool College year 12 student Sandra Burrows and was developed further by troupe members during six weeks of rehearsals.
“It was student-driven,” he said.
The Kalay Warriors, or sister warriors as it loosely translates, was established about three years ago by four girls who wanted to learn more about their indigenous culture.
It has since grown to involve more than 20 girls and involves contemporary dance as well as that which has an indigenous theme.
The troupe performed the dance at the spectacular last month at the Melbourne Convention Centre. The award win was announced on Friday.
“It was the first event the girls had gone in,” Mr Matheson said.“It set them a challenge and they responded very well.
“They gave up their personal time after school and during recess and lunch,” he said.