The Griffith University Logan campus received some life lessons today in a captivating public lecture and dance workshop by celebrated actor, dancer, choreographer and director Debbie Allen.
Ms Allen, in Australia for the Brisbane Festival shared with the Griffith University community, local schools and partners in the Logan district her experience in using arts education to encourage disengaged youths.
Ms Allen gave many insights to her career, including her role playing Anita in a Broadway revival of West Side Story and later as Lydia Grant in the hit series Fame as well as acting and directing on American television medical drama Grey’s Anatomy.
Debbie said she has asked herself how she would best connect with her audience today, what stories to tell of her journey from Houston Texas to her arrival here in Australia.
“I am child of the universe,” Ms Allen said.
“I was born into this world with a gift of enquiry, a gift of self-determination and the gift of the dance imbibed in my bones and the gift of a visionary mother who helped guide me,” she said.
She discussed topics from her early desire to dance, through auditions, rejections, racism and opportunities born out of a world ruled by change.
However, the highlight of the day for most the was the most interactive of dance classes hosted by Debbie and members of her dance team along with more than 200 students from grade nine at Glenala State High School and Loganlea State High School.
As the music boomed, Debbie and her team leapt in the centre of the high schoolers, where they were welcomed by a wild roar as they discarded their inhibitions and joined in the dance with some of the choreographed moves or just rocked out to their own kind of groove.
Debbie is in Australia alongside more than 20 performers from Debbie Allen Dance Academy (DADA) who have made the journey from LA for the world-premiere and headline act “Freeze Frame” at this year’s Brisbane Festival in six performances from 19 – 22 September.