Willy Willy: Carnarvon

About This Project


This project is part of Ausdance WA’s Future Landings program, a biannual production arm of the Regional Program. Find out more about Future Landings.

Directed and choreographed by Janine Oxenham
Presented in partnership with Aartworks

From cities of tents and living through cyclones come stories of wisdom and connection out of a multi-cultural community situated on the Gascoyne River. This is Willy Willy, a 2015 performance told through dance, theatre, music and projections, created by the people of Carnarvon about their town and their contemporary indigenous heritage.

Willy Willy explored what it is to live in a time and place that is pushed and pulled by diverse, and at times conflicting, cultural mores and norms. At its heart this work explores how traditional Aboriginal pedagogy is being undermined by the modern technologies that are currently commanding young people’s attentions, turning them away from a rich culture of learning, family, respect, and caring.

For over 10 months in 2015, Janine Oxenham walked, talked, laughed and cried with her community as she collected stories that would make up this final performance. Educators and local elders played a significant role in this research, building a focus on issues around respect and education. Many sad and beautiful stories were woven into this show to develop both a historical and contemporary portrait of Carnarvon.

Over 80 people were involved in workshops to develop this performance. The final cast was made up of 37 primarily indigenous community members from 11 months to 68 years of age. This was a multi-generational work bringing young and old into a shared experience, reminding the community that they are strong, brave, and creative.

Willy Willy was performed over two nights to packed audiences at the Camel Lane Theatre in October/November 2015.

Artistic Team

Janine Oxenham – Choreographer/Director

Janine is a Malgana woman from the Shark Bay area in Western Australia. She studied dance at both the National Aboriginal Islander Skills Development Association’s (NAISDA) dance college in New South Wales and at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) in Perth. During her time at NAISDA, she travelled extensively to remote communities to learn dances from different parts of Australia, including both mainland Australia and the Torres Strait Islands.

She has choreographed and performed as a freelance contemporary and traditional aboriginal dancer for numerous projects and festivals, including work produced for Decendance Dance Company, based in Sydney, and TURA New Music based in Perth.

She is currently the facilitator and choreographer of the Pundara Performance Group in Carnarvon. Janine co-founded Pundara with Candice Dia in 2011.

Simon Stewart – Mentor

Simon is from Broome of Gija and Bunuba descent. In 1999 Simon worked with Annie Steiner and performed in France with Company Lian. In 2000 Simon Choreographed and performed at the Pacific Arts Festival in New Caledonia as an Australian Indigenous Art representative.

In 2001/2 he coordinated the Certificate 3 in Aboriginal Theatre in Broome before becoming a sessional lecturer in Contemporary Indigenous Dance at WAAPA where he still works. In 2005 he choreographed for Buzz Dance Theatre. In 2010/11 Simon worked with Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company as movement choreographer. In 2012 Simon became Ochre Contemporary Dance Company’s Artistic Project Manager on their first major production and then choreographing for their Dreamtide season.

Project Team

Janine Oxenham: Director/Choreographer

Simon Stewart: Mentor Dance Artist

Rosie Seager: Project Coordinator and Stage Manager

Dave Mann: Musician

Jo Brown: Costume Designer

Alan Surgener: Sound and Light Designer

Anton Blume: Projection Artist

Karen Hethey: Dramaturg

Larissa Groch: Set Designer

Photos by Anton Blume, featuring Hazel Walgar, Liz Newton and Stephan Oxenham


Carnarvon logo_Coated Hi Res  community college Carnarvon Motel WA Logo Large (2)

Future Landings 2015