Chris Bath – FORM Dance Project's new Patron

Host of Sunday Night and Channel 7 News anchor Chris Bath is on board as Patron of FORM Dance Projects.
Chris Bath has a lifelong passion for dance. Bath grew up in South Wentworthville, western Sydney and was a student at Holroyd High School. She was a young aspiring dancer attending classes at the Wendy Greenaway School of Dance at St Andrews Church Hall in Parramatta and is familiar with the lack of opportunities available at that time. As Bath says, “There was nothing in western Sydney then like what FORM Dance Projects offers now.”

Bath will be FORM’s public patron, acting as an advocate to build links to other groups that give western Sydney its unique identity as a diverse and dynamic community.
At a time when FORM is building key strategic partnerships with organisations and developing audiences for contemporary dance in Sydney both in the theatre and online the timing is right for FORM to appoint a well known personality to extend their reach.
Bath says, “We are all busier, and spending more time in front of screens but it’s also good to go out and see live performance and support local ventures.  If FORM had existed when I was growing up, I might have chosen a different career path!
Bath’s aspirations to be a dancer were thwarted early but it didn’t stop her from successfully participating in Dancing with the Stars and charming the judges and audiences with her dance talent.  Now Bath hopes to spread the news of FORM Dance Projects to a wider audience.
‘Even back in the 1970’s and 1980’s, dance opened up a whole new world to me. It showed me new possibilities, people and worlds previously not even on my radar. It showed me what was possible and that’s what FORM Dance Projects is doing now for a whole new generation of talented Westies.’ – Chris Bath
Founded in 2000 by the then Parramatta Riverside Theatres and Ausdance NSW as an outreach program of the NSW Ministry for the Arts Western Sydney Arts Strategy, Western Sydney Dance Action (now FORM Dance Projects) became an incorporated association in 2004 following many successes in developing dance practices and initiatives in Western Sydney.
The inaugural Dance Bites seasons, established in 2003, has served to provide local and regional artists with the support to present their work in Western Sydney at Riverside, Parramatta. The development of this program has supported artists such as Kay Armstrong, Rakini Devi, Shaun Parker, Frances Rings, Narelle Benjamin, Martin del Amo, Anton, Tammi Gissell, Dean Walsh, Tess de Quincey, Annalouise Paul, Liz Lea, fLiNG Physical Theatre, Tasdance and Sydney’s then youth dance company, youMove.
Since its inception, FORM Dance Projects has established vital relationships with other Western Sydney Arts venues such as Riverside Parramatta, The Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre, Campbelltown Arts Centre, Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre and Powerhouse Youth Theatre. The organisation has co-produced many artistic developments and residencies, productions and education programs such as the Westbound Work Experience Program, Choreographic Workshop, Puncture Project and the inaugural annual season of Fast+Fresh Dance. These partnerships, some of which continue to flourish, have played an important role in the development of dance and audiences, as well as providing fundamental support for artists in Western Sydney.
In 2011, after 10 years of growth and with an accelerating artistic program Western Sydney Dance Action emerged as a professional and sustainable arts organisation, under the name, FORM Dance Projects. The three successive directors, Kathy Baykitch, Olivia Ansell and Annette McLernon, in collaboration with the Board, have contributed to the ongoing development and success of the organisation.
We recently had a chat to Chris Bath about her new role  …
What drew you to want to support FORM Dance Project?
“I’m really excited about what FORM Dance Project is doing … It’s probably a variety of reasons, not least of which what they are managing to achieve in Western Sydney. I great up in Western Sydney so I feel obliged to support organisations that are helping people in Western Sydney. I was also a dancer – certainly not of the callibre of some of the kids and artists that come through FORM – when I was at school and wish that something like FORM had been around then because it just offers incredible opportunities to choreographers and dancers and even videographers – all sorts of chapters of collaboration on so many different levels and the thing that I like about it is that it’s giving dancers real skills. It’s as much about rehearsal and performance as it is about education, industry networking and things like that. Things that dancers often learn about after they’ve gotten into the business professionally and they are offering this before they go in which gives skills and abilities to get work.
“The good thing about FORM is that they don’t discriminate between young kids or people that are established as professionals!”
Where did your love of dance come from?
“My own passion for dance started when I was in Kindergarten when a girl came in and said that her Mum taught ballet for news. I apparently went home and said to my mother , ‘I want to learn ballet!’ There was no great tradition in my family. I started doing ballet, tap and jazz classes in a double garage in Greystanes and it kind of went from there. My poor father got tortured with all sorts of dance concerts in kitchen where I was tapping on the lino for years. Then after that I went to a different dance school when I was in high school in Paramatta – the Wendy Greenaway School of Dance – St Andrews Church Hall and All Saints Church Hall and we were doing RAD Ballet – I’d ditched the tap by that stage, but I can still do a time step or two!! Maureen MacDonald wouldn’t let me anywhere near Contemporary Dance at the time because that involved nudity .. Graeme Murphy was doing all sorts of things with people in bath tubs (laughs) so I didn’t really even know Contemporary dance existed. But for me the really interesting thing about dance on a broader scale is what it did as a kid for me growing up in Wentworthville I met all these other kids from different areas, from different cultures, different parts of the city through dancing and probably learnt what was POSSIBLE. I learnt about would COULD  be or what MIGHT be in life, through DANCING. It gave me so many opportunities outside of dancing because of exposure to different people and different things and I think that still rings true today. I mean the internet has made a huge impact on what kids now know about, what horizons there are and what potentialities there are in life but I don’t think there’s any replacement for actually living that experience themselves and that’s what dancing gave me.
“It’s a confidence building thing, but it’s also a fitness building thing. There’s so many different benefits to dance, not just artistic! To see an organisation as a community outreach organisation that FORM was, fourteen years later to be kicking the goals that it is and achieving what it’s achieving is just insane for me so when they asked me if I’d get on board, I said ‘FOR SURE’!”
What does your role as patron involve and what can you bring to the Project?
“Well I can bring my big mouth (laughs), and I recently joined the Twitter-verse so I’m getting my social media on slowly but surely! The amount of pressure we can exert to get better rehearsal space … when the old King School was gazetted as an arts precinct the entire thriving arts community went ‘fantastic’ but that’s now on the back-burner. If we can somehow revive that, I mean those beautiful buildings that are on the river are just sitting there becoming derelict before our eyes when they can be used as a magnificent facility .. If can help push for that … I’d just like to help put what FORM’s doing on the map!  It has such a cohesive effect in the community … there are 186 different languages spoken in Western Sydney alone and so many cultures with rich traditions in dance and FORM is embracing those and bringing them together.. I think its a way of building tolerance in a community, I think it’s a way of building pride and cohesion in a community and that’s about harnessing people from different cultures and areas with passion which they all share mutually and I think DANCE has that in spades!”