If you’ve noticed colourful yet ambiguous posters dated January 1 with “Austinmer Beach” slapped around the Illawarra’s northern suburbs, here is your explanation.
Performance artist Emma Saunders has choreographed what could possibly be one of the greatest community gatherings the popular tourist beach has ever seen and has been recruiting participants since October for the event set for 2pm on Monday.
“It’s somewhere between a flash mob and a happening,” she said. “It’s serious fun.”
To a jazzy soundtrack – including a jungle remix, a Grease classic and The Final Countdown – around 150 people are expected to join in a group dance medley which includes synchronised divers.
The idea of involving her local community in a fun creative project has been bubbling away for Mrs Saunders since she moved to the Illawarra five years ago
“These kind of projects help dance be relevant to an en masse community without being too commercial … and can make dance more relevant in our everyday lives,” she said.
The arts has become “devalued” in today’s society especially with cuts to government funding, Mrs Saunders said. This was her way of showing the wider public that artists were just as important as any other profession.
“It’s been quite a wonderful challenge, but a challenge to find out what’s relevant so everyone can come to and want to be in,” Mrs Saunders said. “We’re making ordinary things extraordinary.”
The final group rehearsal was completed on Friday at the beach to many onlookers (see above video). Participants are mainly from Austinmer, Thirroul and Coledale and have been learning the funky moves at group rehearsals and via videos posted on Facebook.
Dancers will be spread along the concrete path running north to south of the beach, on the grassed area and along the ocean pools. Public transport is advised as parking spots near the beach will be scarce.
Mrs Saunders welcomed as many spectators as possible though said it would be too late for new participants to learn the choreography.
The Illawarra Mercury Facebook page will stream the event live at 2pm on January 1. www.facebook.com/IllawarraMerc/