The Free Spirit Community Award
Free Spirit has introduced a Free Spirit Community Award, which is awarded to a member of the Community who has contributed significantly to the dance community of WA and goes above and beyond and should be recognised for the work they do.
2011 Awards :
Nominations are welcome at any time of the year and the Community Award is presented at the Christmas Hafla.
The Free Spirit Dance Community Inc was born back in 2010 when we became a non-profit Incorporated Body and our mission is to promote and nurture tribal and fusion forms of bellydance in Perth WA.
The original 2010 Committee consisted of Richelle Spenser, Kerry Mace, Nicole Brown, Deb Hinton, Marie Edwards, Di Ryman, Janet Peel, Leanne Shannon, Anne Ramsden, Selina Colebourne, Connie Bafile, Janet Hof, Amy Warne, Val McCruden and Kristie Lee Stevens. Membership was $5 per year and we opened our first studio, the Betsy Watkins Memorial Studio at the South Freo High School.
In 2012, we opened a second studio in Bibra Lake, the Mata Hari Dance Studio, to take on additional evening classes and the two studios ran in tandem for a couple of years. We also ran the first Raqs Cafe event as part of the WAMED festival and ran the inaugural Free Spirit Fusion Festival. The Free Spirit Fusion Festival was the brainchild of one of our Committee members, who held the inaugural event in 2012 at the Betsy Watkins Studio in the South Fremantle High School, which involved workshops with local teachers and a Community Dinner.
In 2013 we continued creating new events that were to become strong traditions with the first Pink Hafla to support our members battling breast cancer. We were running on love, spit and sellotape at this stage and were running sausage sizzles and other events to cover our running costs. The power of volunteers is amazing and kept us afloat - just! :)
In 2014 we introduced Student Stages, intimate studio performance nights for up-and-coming dancers to get their performance legs and for more experienced performers to test out new material in a supportive environment. We also changed the Tribal Jam evenings to be free dancing Dance Jams to include all the dance styles in the Community. We held another Free Spirit Fusion Festival at the Waldorf School and held a stage show in the evening, this time featuring Aradia from Spellbound Bellydance as our first interstate artist and sponsored by the City of Cockburn. During this year, we also closed the Betsy Watkins Memorial Studio, as the school was no longer able to host us.
In 2016, we purchased a share in the WAMED Festival and ran our first WAMED in Midland with Bellydance Central and Raqs Zahara. This was an amazing experience and an honour to take on the mantle of WAMED from the beautiful Keti Sharif.
In 2017 the studio started to get a little small for our needs with overflowing classes and a high demand for teaching slots, so we started to look around for a larger premises. We ran our first WAMED Festival in Fremantle in partnership with Bellydance Central at the beautiful Victoria Hall, hosted by the Fly by Night club and featuring the amazing Karim Nagi. We also ran a Free Spirit Fusion Festival in September 2017, again with the support from the City of Cockburn. The night event for 2017 was the Myths and Legends Hafla, where we explored several of the stories that capture our imagination, through dance. All festivalled out this year, we decided to retire the Free Spirit Fusion Festival concept, as we were now co-owners of the WAMED Festival, which will serve the needs of all the dancers who can get to a Perth-based festival. We will now turn our attention to those dancers who can't get to WAMED, or to Perth teachers and bring bellydance to the regions! ROADTRIPS!
In 2018 we ran our second WAMED in Fremantle with guest star Nesma from Spain and hosted an intensive weekend of workshops with Paola Blanton from Brazil. We also decided to bring back the Free Spirit Community Award this year.