Paul Morewood was sent to ballet classes as a child along with his sisters and brother. (ABC Radio Brisbane: Jessica Hinchliffe)
A Brisbane taxi driver will have the opportunity to return to his ballet roots thanks to a unique community dance workshop.
Paul Morewood is one of a group of Brisbane amateur dancers taking part in We All Dance, a workshop series facilitated by the Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC) to coincide with The Royal Ballet’s visit to Australia.
As a child, Mr Morewood trained with the Russian Ballet Company in Australia.
At the insistence of his sisters, he has joined the workshop series to relive his dancing days.
Jessie Morewood and her brother Paul Morewood once took ballet lessons together. (ABC Radio Brisbane: Jessica Hinchliffe)
“When I found out The Royal Ballet was involved I thought, ‘what a great opportunity’,” he said.
Mr Morewood was sent to ballet classes as a child, along with his sisters, to help his younger brother.
“He had turned out feet so our grandmother, who was our guardian at the time, was told by a doctor to get him into ballet.
“We all went together to stop him from being scared.”
The classes led to Mr Morewood performing for the Russian Ballet Company as part of the corps de ballet when he was a young adult.
“It takes me back to my younger days when I was used to pirouette, gargouillade, pas de chat.”
Returning to dance as a family
One of the sisters Marlene Wilson said it was great to be back dancing together as a family; the siblings lost touch with each other when they were split up as foster children.
“We’re part of the Forgotten Australians as we experienced out-of-home care,” she said.
Siblings Marlene Wilson, Paul Morewood and Jessie Morewood are dancing together after being apart for decades. (ABC Radio Brisbane: Jessica Hinchliffe)
“We were taken away from our family when we were very young so we didn’t grow up together.
“We went through a lot of trauma in our life, so coming together and sharing [dance] as a family is special to us.”
Fellow sister and dancing partner Jessie Morewood said it was a blessing to be dancing with her brother again.
“When we dance we try and think about the memories that we had when we danced together as children,” she said.
“It’s been incredibly revealing to see what Paul could remember from his early dancing days and to do something with The Royal Ballet company is amazing.”
Giving everyone the chance to dance
The We All Dance workshops are made up of dancers from diverse backgrounds including people with a disabilities, those who are homeless and people looking for social inclusion.
Mr Morewood said returning to dancing had given him the calmness and the chance to be part of something.
Dancers are encouraged to trust each other and move as they see fit. (ABC Radio Brisbane: Jessica Hinchliffe)
“I’m happy that we’re all involved and that many groups have been able to come together as one … I’m enjoying it very, very much,” he said.
Teaching artist Sandi Woo said working with the siblings had been uplifting.
“I only found out that they were siblings in week three, I just thought they were close friends.
“They have this closeness that you could see straight away.”
Teaching artist Sandi Woo (centre) aims to show participants movement and inclusion. (ABC Radio Brisbane: Jessica Hinchliffe)
We All Dance is the largest community engagement project ever undertaken by QPAC and includes workshops in Cairns, Ipswich, Logan and Caboolture.
The groups from each city will come together in Brisbane on July 2 to perform as part of a series of public events that will run alongside The Royal Ballet’s Woolf Works and The Winter’s Tale season.
Teachers involved with each workshop worked with representatives of The Royal Ballet to plan elements of the performance.
“The important thing about this project is that we get to hear and meet people from diverse walks of life,” Ms Woo said.