Thanks to everyone who submitted a question to our Youth Program Director Sidney Saltner via social media! Here are his answers.
At what age did you realise that you had to dance? Who encouraged you to dance?
I think I was about six; it was when I saw my uncle stick bottle caps under his feet and tap dance for us when he’d visit us. I never really got the opportunity to dance or have any formal training when I was growing up, except for the odd end of year stage show in primary school, or watching it on TV. It wasn’t until I went to boarding school that a friend and I would use the school hall to put dance moves together so I guess he encouraged me in a way and my family supported me once I made the decision to make dance my career.
Where was your favourite place to teach and what is your favourite style?
I don’t really have a favourite place to teach but I enjoy and am inspired by teaching people who show a genuine interest to learn and share in the experience of creating their own style. Once you give them the tools it is magical to watch. I really enjoyed going back to my old school recently to teach and take the Rekindling program back home (to Theodore in Queensland in 2014).
If you ever felt like you wouldn’t make it, what inspired you to keep going?
There were many times when I felt like I wouldn’t make it and wanted to give up. I still feel like that today - that feeling will always be there – but it makes me push harder, because when I first started to learn to dance, the thought of going home without achieving or finishing anything and having to face the family after so many years of being away kept me focused. The support from my family and peers, especially the ones who had the same goal and passion I had for dance, made me keep going.
What advice would you give to kids who aspire to be a dancer?
Decide what it is that you want, go for it and don’t settle for anything less. Give everything a go and don’t be afraid, because even if you fail many times, you will enjoy finding new ways of doing things. When you succeed it’s going to feel amazing, then set a new goal. Make it fun, because this will help you get through the tough times and be open to everything and take every opportunity you can.
What does Rekindling and traditional dance teach kids about their Indigenous identity?
I hope that by learning traditional dance, it would teach the kids a sense of identity, who they are and what it is to be Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, but also to know their cultural backgrounds and to eventually take their place as custodians of the stories and knowledge of their Elders and ancestors.
Rekindling is a tool devised to help build the bridge between the youth and the Elders, creating a safe space for the handing down of their knowledge, to rekindle the stories, cultural practices and keep our culture alive. The next stage is about telling our stories our way, bringing them into the future, and creating new ones for the future generations.