A pioneering Adelaide dance company has helped thousands of people with a disability find their voice – and injected an important new perspective into Australia’s cultural landscape.
Resilient is one way to describe the artists from Restless Dance Theatre which has grown from humble beginnings into a leading light in the national performing arts scene which will celebrate its 30th anniversary this year.
Restless Dance Theatres story began in November 1991, as a series of workshops exploring the relationship between dance and voice, for a group of young people with disabilities. The studio has since grown with over 6000 dancers aged between three and 56 participating in the workshops over the past 30 years.
Most of the dancers have been those with an intellectual disability, but Restless also works with artists with a disability, and those with a range of physical disabilities, including deaf people.
Restless currently runs three weekly programs for participants of various ages and a dance company featuring nine core artists.
Whilst Restless’ primary goal is to focus on the dance, the aim of the program is also about learning independence and making lifelong friends.
Some of the dancers have been at Restless for over 10 years and have performed on stages across Europe and Asia as a part of the company world tour in 2019.
Michelle Ryan the artistic director of Restless remarked that the studio invigorates, influences and diversifies dance by creating innovative and highly distinctive works of dance theatre.
“Restless is an important part of the national arts ecology celebrating diversity on stage and showcasing the artistry of dancers with disabilities.
I am honoured to be working with such incredible artists. I look forward to the longevity of the company as it continues to make great art and challenge and excite audiences.”
Michelle continued expressing the importance of dance on the individual confidence and the pride and self-worth the artists have for their craft when the audience erupts after a performance.
Restless has formed a major touring repertoire performing a sold-out season at the Adelaide Festival as well as performing at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival, The Adelaide Fringe and the Bleach Festival in Brisbane which coincided with the opening of the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
Restless remains the only dance company of its kind in Australia and has helped open the door to dance as an art form, fitness tool and cultural focus for thousands of people with and without disabilities, paving the way towards a more inclusive dance industry creating positive opportunities for all.
Restless Dance is a collective and vibrant community that welcomes dancers of all ages and abilities.