Shaun Parker & Company cultural exchange across several Arab regions

Photo of mentor and mentee checking a camera screen.

Shaun Parker with local Cairo filmmaker Sally Kandil. Credit: Shaun Parker & Company.

Shaun Parker & Company is a Sydney-based dance company that creates humanist dance works that are inspired by the celebration of the human condition. The Company is renown for the strong social impact outcomes associated with its work, which involves performances, community engagement, workshops and mentorships.

Group photo of Shaun Parker & Company dancers with Ambassador Neil Hawkins.

Artistic Director Shaun Parker & Company dancers with Ambassador Neil Hawkins, alongside the children and their minders from the local orphanage in Cairo. Credit: Shaun Parker & Company.

Photo of an audience watching a performance.

Audiences enjoying the performance in Cairo! Credit: Shaun Parker & Company.

The Company began its fruitful cultural exchange with several Arab countries in 2014 when it toured its production HAPPY AS LARRY throughout the Masahat Touring Circuit, with the generous support of the Council of Australia-Arab Relations (CAAR). I recall in Amman the festival inviting all of the children from the local orphanage to the performance, and to witness first-hand their engagement with the program was simply wondrous. HAPPY AS LARRY was a piece that explored human happiness using street dance, chalk art and a 7m spinning chalk blackboard set design shrouded by an arc of colourful helium balloons. The universal language of dance and the importance of cultural exchange was very apparent.

Performance on a street with trolleys

Dancers of Shaun Parker & Company performing its outdoor community work TROLLEYS to audiences in Cairo, as part of the Downtown Cairo Arts Festival (D-CAF). Credit: Shaun Parker & Company.

Performance on a street with trolleys

Shaun Parker & Company performing on the streets of the Downtown Cairo Arts Festival. Credit: Shaun Parker & Company.

In early 2018 The Company partnered with the D-CAF (Downtown Arts Festival Cairo) and the Backstreet Festival in Alexandria Egypt to present its outdoor community work TROLLEYS. Supported by CAAR, we were able to deliver special outdoor performances in Cairo and Alexandria, featuring a family-friendly dance work with 5 dancers and 5 supermarket trolleys! As Artistic Director, I also mentored local emerging female choreographer Sarah Gabr, leading Sarah through a series of one-on-one workshops, offering artistic advice on creating for solo practice, as well as providing key professional skills development. The mentorship continues on an ongoing basis due to the strong rapport that Sarah and I established, and a future residency in Australia has excellent potential.

Finally in April 2019, the Company is supported by CAAR to tour its KING/Little Big Man program to Lebanon, Palestine and Jordan, building on past networks and cultural exchange created from the previous engagement with the Masahat Touring Network.

Photo of Hayley Chilvers performing.

Shaun Parker & Company solo dancer Hayley Chilvers leaping across the outdoor stage at the Backstreet Festival in Alexandria. Credit: Shaun Parker & Company.

Group photo of Shaun Parker & Company and the Backstreet Festival teams

Shaun Parker & Company and the Backstreet Festival teams celebrating at the conclusion of the festival! Credit: Shaun Parker & Company.

The Company acknowledges the importance of building and growing networks over several years which has proven to have both short-term and long-term impact. Shaun Parker & Company is proud of its work with Arab artists, partners and festivals across Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine and Egypt, which has been so generously support by the Council of Australia-Arab Relations.

Photo of Shaun Parker and Sarah Gabr.

Shaun Parker and mentee Sarah Gabr outside the dance studios in Cairo. Credit: Shaun Parker & Company.

Photo of Sarah Gabr

Mentee Sarah Gabr rehearsing devised choreographic material with Shaun Parker, as part of the ongoing mentorship program. Credit: Shaun Parker & Company.

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