The Yard

The Yard_editorialThe dynamics of the school yard are explored through urban dance and sport to create a visual extravaganza with a powerful social message in The Yard at Arts Centre Melbourne from 13 – 16 August.

Conceived and developed by award-winning and internationally acclaimed Australian choreographer Shaun Parker, this gutsy and ground-breaking production features twenty teenage performers depicting the wild frontier of the Australian school yard through a spectacle of urban dance, music, sport and acrobatics.

Set to an original electro-music score by Nick Wales (arrangements on Sarah Blasko’s I Awake), The Yard draws inspiration from the diverse skills and stories of multicultural high school students from western Sydney to showcase their perspective on contemporary society. Break dance, locking, popping and krumping combine with the physical prowess of the basketballer, soccer player and martial artist to create a visual extravaganza with a powerful social message.

Inspired by William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, The Yard is both a high-octane piece of theatre and a voice against bullying. The performers, including teenagers from new immigrant and refugee families, encourage audiences to think about human behaviour through finding unity in the diversities of culture, gender and ethnicity that pulsate in the school yard. Through everyday conflicts and interactions it celebrates the extraordinary in the ordinary.

Mildura-born Parker is an award-winning choreographer and VCA graduate whose work has spanned film, television and theatre. His physical theatre and dance works have toured the United Kingdom, Germany, Asia, New Zealand and Australia.

Parker has drawn on the student’s cultural performance traditions as well as their highly developed ‘schoolyard skills’. Scooter riders, sports ball jugglers/handlers, shufflers, tutters, and lockers have all contributed to the choreography and drama of the work.

Naturally talented, many with little or no formal training in music or dance, they have learnt their craft from jamming in the streets and yards of Western Sydney and watching YouTube.

“Through performance, diversity of race, gender, street culture and activity is explored,” says Parker. “We have tried to present the creative tension bubbling away in our suburban melting pots, and its reflections on our broader multicultural society.”

“This has been one of the most uplifting and rewarding experiences of my artistic career. These kids are raw, talented and truly exceptional artists.”

The Yard was developed over three years through CAPTIVATE – the Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta, to enrich talented students with professional performing arts opportunities under the direction of Parker. The production won the 2012 Australian Dance Award, Outstanding Achievement in Youth and Community Dance and a 2013 Helpmann Nomination for Best Presentation for Children.

The Yard
Fairfax Studio – Arts Centre Melbourne, 100 St. Kilda Road, Melbourne
Season: 13 – 16 August 2014
Bookings: 1300 182 183 or online at:

For more information, visit: for details.

Image: courtesy of Shaun Parker and Company