Amrita Hepi is a Bundjalung and Maori contemporary dancer, a self-described woman of colour trying to decolonise herself on as many levels as possible. Kalinya worked with Amrita on a special workshop for young Aboriginal women as a part of the Next Wave Festival.
Amrita studied at NAISDA, at BANF in Canada and The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in New York City and recently created her first full-length work Passing for the Next Wave Festival in Melbourne.
Kalinya developed an Indigenous audience engagement strategy for the Next Wave Festival, which included a special viewing of Passing for young Aboriginal women and an intimate meet and greet with Amrita and fellow performer Jahra Wasasala. The group discussed expectations of racial identities, colonial perceptions of skin colour, notions of exoticism and the ability of First Nations women to experience both pain and joy symbiotically.
“I get asked a lot if my dance style is traditional or contemporary and I struggled with this question for a really long time. I’m creating work about my lived experience an Indigenous person now. This includes the revival of stories, ensuring our oral histories are preserved, investigating my bloodlines, but what is also really important to me is the question of how I innovate for the future. A tenancy of trauma is to preserve but now is the time to innovate, so our story continues to live.”
Watch Amrita’s TED Talk here:
To be a Good Dancer, Don’t Give a F**k | Amrita Hepi | TEDxYouth@Sydney