Dr Laura (Amara) Osweiler is an international dance instructor, performer, choreographer, producer and scholar specialising in contemporary choreography and Middle Eastern dances.
She’ll perform as part of the 10th annual Parramasala festival, which runs from 13 – 15 March 2020 being presented by Multicultural NSW and the City of Parramatta.
This is her story.
I grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana. It’s a city with a dynamic and diverse history and home to my Dad’s side of the family for at least four generations, after they immigrated from Germany. My mom’s side has been in Chicago, Illinois for around the same amount of time since their immigration from Ireland and Holland.
I’m the only dancer and only professional artist in the family. Since beginning dance training as a 12-year-old, going on to study violin and Ethnomusicology at university and receiving my PhD in Dance History and Theory, music and Middle Eastern Dance have taken me across the USA and to Australia, where I now live in Sydney.
My experience as a Middle Eastern dancer from the USA has shown me that the arts can play many roles in promoting cultural diversity. The development of American-Middle Eastern dance and Arab-American music is traceable back through diaspora communities coming together to share cultural dance styles amongst themselves and with others of non-Middle Eastern descent as well as being inspired by Western dance and music.
For me, art is about opening spaces for a variety of people to thrive in the world in unique ways and making strong and vital foundations for a healthy society. Dance allows me to create these spaces, build bridges between styles and celebrate a diversity of dancers.
Later this year, I’m looking forward to creating an inter-cultural dance concert with an artist from New York City, Djahari Clark. We will work with several NSW dancers and choreographers to create new works and re-stage older ones. My inter-cultural work acknowledges the tension between tradition and experimentation and uses dance to unpack power tensions between different groups, celebrate communities and artists working together and interweaving voices to create new ways of thinking, being and problem solving.
In the meantime, I’ll be performing at Parramasala in March where I’m an assistant Dance Producer. The festival recognises the cultural and creative abundance of Sydney and NSW and is an opportunity for artists and communities to come together, share their unique identities and hold space for others to do the same.
Stay up to date at www.amaradance.com.