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James Boyd encourages First Nations young people to apply to NAISDA

[by Alison Steele]


James Boyd NAISDA cultural performance.Image: supplied

Childhood was a challenging time for Kunja and Muruwarri man, James Boyd, who grew up on Awabakal Country and spent a considerable amount of time in hospital due to sickness.

Now 23 years old, James reflects on this time, revealing a silver lining came from this difficult period – a love of music and movement.

“Part of my recovery involved music therapy and it really sparked something in me. I got into movement and dancing. This is what kept me going in the hospital,” James said.

He hasn’t looked back since. Graduating from the national dance and arts training organsation NAISDA Dance College in June, James has recently secured a position with Bangara Dance Theatre as part of its Russell Page Graduate Program.

“After taking part in workshops with NAISDA while I was still at high school to get an understanding of what it was like, then meeting NAISDA trainers and participating in cultural workshops, applying to study full-time with the College was a natural next step for me when I finished high school.”

When asked about his first NAISDA impressions, James commented on the strong sense of community along with professional commitment and drive.

“I found it hard when I first arrived at NAISDA, but it was a good hard! You get pushed by the trainers because they see a lot in you, I found that strong sense of belief really encouraging.”

James said during his four years of studies, one of the most memorable highlights was going on the College’s annual Cultural Residency Program – a unique opportunity for students to travel to remote communities to learn and connect with Country, community and culture.

“Going on NAISDA’s cultural residencies are life changing experiences.

“During my NAISDA training, I learnt and danced on Country and spent time with communities, Cultural Tutors and Elders from Moa Island in the Torres Strait and Nyinyikay in Northeast Arnhem Land.

Mr Boyd admitted as well as significant highlights, he also experienced challenges.
“The most challenging period was fracturing my ankle last year. It was a pivotal point that really made me evaluate if I was going to push forward and be a professional dancer or if I was going to take a different direction.

“The support I received from NAISDA staff and students during that time was amazing with people checking in to see how I was doing each day. Ultimately, the experience made me realise that I really love dancing and that I want to be a dancer and follow that career path.

“I still remember the feeling of getting the phone call from Bangarra offering me a position as the Russel Page Graduate, all that hard work paid off!

“I was in the last stages of completing my Advanced Diploma Course at the time, so felt very prepared, grounded and confident to become a Professional Artist or an Independent Artist.

When asked what advice he would give other First Nations young people considering applying to NAISDA, James didn’t hesitate.

“Go for it! You never know what is going to happen. It could change your life. If you’re passionate about dance and performing, do it for yourself and do it for your community.
NAISDA’s training is subsidised by the NSW Government for eligible students and through the Federal Government.

To apply, eligible applicants should visit and submit their application before 22 August 2022.

For enquiries please contact NAISDA on (toll free) on 1800 117 116 or email


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