There were few news stories that caught the attention of the world in 2019 like that of the Australian Bush Fires. Beginning in September 2019 and continuing to today, fires this season have burned an estimated 72,000 square miles, destroyed over 5,900 buildings (including 2,779 homes) and killed at least 34 people. An estimated one billion animals have been killed and there are fears that some endangered species have been driven to extinction. Air quality dropped to hazardous levels due to the smoke. The cost of dealing with the bushfires is expected to exceed USD$4.4 billion. It is a massive environmental tragedy, and people everywhere have come together to aid Australia during their time of need.
Professional dancer James Deane was born and raised in the beachside town of Byron Bay in Australia. He is a proud Australian, building his formidable dancing career in the country and now, at 28 years of age, lives in Sydney as a dancer, teacher and choreographer. When the fires began ravaging his country last summer, he felt devastated and wanted to help. When he was invited to perform for the Light of Hope fundraising event which was designed to raise funds for the Australian bushfire appeal, he knew right away it was something he had to take part in.
Light of Hope was an exclusive event held in the beautiful, heritage-listed landmark building GPO Grand. Tickets were limited and the audience we treated to a night of top-quality performances and canapes. “I love performing to a live audience and this performance was extra special because every cent raised on the night went to helping the Australian bushfire appeal. I love the fact that my skills in dancing could help those in need. I wanted to do what I could to help my fellow Australians,” said Deane.
Australian Singer Cat Thompson introduced Deane to the Event Organizer Winnie Lim and highly recommended his skills as a performer for the show. Lim was very pleased to have Deane as one of the headlining acts and he was signed on as the only solo male dance act of the night as well as performing alongside Thompson.
Deane structured his solo performance so that the first song was a very intricate dance to captivate the audience. He followed this with an up-tempo groovy piece to mix straight into a slow and smooth dance number. He then finished with a high-energy break dancing performance including acrobatics. Deane’s performance attracted a broad audience, garnering positive reviews and was featured in an overseas newspaper in The Netherlands, which helped to raise more awareness for the appeal, which was an incredible success.
Light of Hope helped raise thousands of dollars for the NSW RFS (New South Wales Rural Fire Service) and WIRES (Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service). The funds for the NSW RFS will help them deliver additional services to the community, and the funds for WIRES helps improve their capabilities to rescue and care for more animals especially after emergencies like these. It also helps operate their Wildlife Rescue Line 365 days a year with providing food and medication costs for rescued wildlife and provides community wildlife information, education as well as wildlife training courses for volunteers and the community.
“I'm so happy to think our efforts went towards helping the volunteer firefighters fight the bushfires and help the Australian wildlife recover from injury and loss of habitat caused by the fires. It’s so beautiful to see the Australian community and people from all over the world coming together for a common cause,” said Deane.
If you’d like to donate to the Australian Wildfire Fund, head to their website.
Gez Xavier Mansfield Photography