Its official: Sprung!! have been shortlisted for an Australian Dance Award for Outstanding Achievement in Community Dance for our work Encounters, choreographed by Michael Hennessy, with original compositions by Fred Cole and backdrops/video by John Rado. Congratulations to all of the dancers, creatives, and support team who brought this work to fruition.

“Encounters” drew from workshops with schools, festivals, Byron Youth Theatre, and a children’s hospital. Within it we explored identity, ability, and belonging, and acknowledged the difficult journey of individuation and Rumi’s possibility of wounded-ness or flaw, as “the crack where the light gets in”. We hold fast to the dignity of every individual and to creativity as the force that allows that light to be revealed.

The initial stage of development was funded by a Regional Arts Fund grant, and production was supported by partnerships with Drill Hall Theatre Mullumbimby, Park Lane Theatre Lennox Head, and by private donations for which we are immensely grateful.

We look forward to frocking up for the Dance Awards ceremony in Melbourne on September 24th, and rubbing shoulders with the greats in Australian dance, such as Bangarra and Sydney Dance Company, who have also been shortlisted (different category LOL).

Photograph of dancer Tara Coughlan by Katrina Folkwell

Sprung!! “Encounters” Longlisted for Australian Dance Award


Photograph by Katrina Folkwell of dancers Annie Tinning, Liam Bruce and Elizabeth Venn

Did you get to see the “exceptional, heart-breaking” performance of Encounters at Mullumbimby Drill Hall or Lennox Park Lane Theatre in October last year? If not you will regret it, we may be rubbing shoulders with the Australian Ballet at this year’s Australian Dance Awards in Melbourne on September 24th.

“Encounters” was inspired by Rumi quote: “Don’t look away from the bandaged part. That is where the Light gets in”. Highlights from the performance are shown here:

As part of this development, Sprung!! ran a performance/workshop at the Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital, where several hundred patients and visitors, watched the section “Bandages of Light”. For some viewers there was a visible epiphany:  “Despite my disability, my wounds, and my scars, I too could make and share meaningful art some day”.  A small group of patients approached our dancers, literally touching their own scars and those of the dancers, and these experiences were integrated into the considered quality of “Bandages” in our final work. In a similar way, a week’s development with Byron Youth Theatre members of the section Exodus (shown above), coincided with revelations of the human toll of the refugee crisis in Europe, and our collaborative internalisation of the feelings of striving onwards on a difficult journey despite constant setbacks, (common to so many persecuted and marginalised groups, including youth) became the essence of this section in the final work.

Despite the impact of Arts cuts on funding for the second year of this project, Michael Hennessy and Sprung!! continued commitment to intense training and development with core dancers with disability, enabling them to reach extraordinary levels even by national standards. Philanthropic and community and local council support enabled the performances of “Encounters” to go ahead and we cannot thank these donors enough. Audience responses were overwhelming “Heart-wrenchingly beautiful … Brilliantly conceived and professional executed… The whole performance was incredible! Not a dull moment… Unbelievably good choreography … This was more than a performance, it was witnessing dancers giving themselves totally to achieving something exceptional…”

The superb video/backdrops by John Rado and extraordinary varied and responsive original score by Fred Cole (both local Northern Rivers artists) added to a consummate artistic experience for viewers, and clearly the national connoisseurs think so to, as shown by our inclusion on the longlist for Outstanding Community Dance Performance in the Australian Dance Awards nominations released earlier this month. The Shortlist will be announced in late July, and if all goes well, dancers will be frocking up for the big night on the red carpet!

Want to get in on the ground floor for Hennessy’s next large scale integrated work with Sprung!!? Donate to “Oh, How I Dreamt of Things Impossible” through our link: The seed has been planted …

“Encounters” at Mullumbimby and Lennox Head this October

Sprung!!’s latest, beautiful dance theatre work Encounters explores the journey of individuation and the quest for identity and belonging with 10 dancers with and without disability.

This work has been two years in development, and is now in the final stages of polishing before two weekends of performance in the Northern Rivers.

The work will premiere at the Drill Hall at Mullumbimby on October 7,8, and 9, with a sneak preview as part of the Drill Hall Centenary Open Day on August 28th.

It will then be the centrepiece of an Arts and Health Weekend at Park Lane Theatre, Lennox Heads Community Centre, on October 15th and 16th. This will begin with the “Encounters at Lennox” event on Saturday evening from 6-9, comprising a buffet dinner with live music, Encounters performance, and a Panel discussion with dynamic guest speakers offering different perspectives on Disability, Arts and Health, including Lynne Seear, past deputy director of QAGOMA and currently Arts Program Manager at Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital in Brisbane. Be part of the Encounter!!

On Sunday morning guests will have the opportunity for personal creative expression with workshops in ceramics (tutor Amanda Bromfield), clowning (tutor Sally Davis) and creative writing (Hilton Koppe), plus a matinee performance of Encounters for those missing out earlier. Get your hands dirty!!

Sprung!! perceives disability as secondary to the primary experience of being human, and acknowledges the unique potential of every human being for creativity and connection. The Park Lane Theatre is wheelchair accessible, and the Panel discussion and the “Creative Writing” workshop will have Auslan interpreters.

Sprung!! intends for the community conversation on Arts and Health to be interactive. We want to know if you have ever approached a health or disability issue through creative expression, and what happened when you did? Have you ever had a wound helped by a great work of art, music, or theatre? Do you think it is true when the poet sighs, “How well they understood suffering, the Great Masters”, (Auden) or, “Don’t turn away. Keep your gaze on the bandaged part. That is where the Light gets in …” (Rumi). Please post your comments on this site or email us at Be part of the conversation!!

Encounters at Mullum October 7-9

Encounters at Lennox: The Dinner/The Show/The Discussion October 15th

Encounters at Lennox: The Matinee October 16th

Encounters at Lennox: The Workshops (Clowning, Ceramics, Creative Writing)

Photograph by Fiona Reilly of dancers Elizabeth Venn and Tess Eckert. Graphics by John Rado.