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Post-production   /  Cathy Williams

Alchemical: Dance as Transformation

ALCHEMICAL reveals the vast capacity of the human spirit, as the power of Dance transforms tragedy into gold.


Impact areas




  • DIRECTOR Mischa Baka

  • PRODUCER Candice Polglase Cathy Williams



What are the challenges of a dance class that aims to reveal who we really are without judgement? Follow teacher Anne O’Keeffe and her students, as they take a journey of self-revelation, and the boundaries between dance and life dissolve.

ALCHEMICAL explores Anne’s Alchemy classes, illuminating the transformative power of authentic expression within a loving community.
Bear witness to remarkable students’ stories, as they navigate new ways of being - both in the studio and in their lives.

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Issue Summary

A short summary of the issue the documentary is addressing

We all long to belong and seek acceptance for who we truly are.

Within the safe, inclusive Alchemy class, students are supported to navigate a range of social issues such as healing sexual assault, trauma, exploring gender identity, overcoming social exclusion and moving through the challenges of grief and loss. Renewed self-worth beckons at the end of each journey.

Through the power of dance, students are invited to express authentically, and are acknowledged and accepted by a compassionate community. This is a profound practice - inspiring insight and transformational growth.


What is the impact vision statement of the documentary?

The Documentary invites a way of living focused on authenticity, creativity and personal discovery. This results in a powerful sense of connection and community – which is needed now more than ever to combat isolation and disconnect.

We hope audiences will be inspired to seek avenues for self-expression in their own lives; fostering practices that facilitate the twin gifts of self-awareness and community engagement.


What outcomes does the project hope to achieve from making this documentary?

Short Term –
• Increase appreciation of the significance of artists and arts practice in our community.
• Increase awareness of Dance Improvisation and its therapeutic benefits.
• Increase connection to our humanity and compassion for others.
• Increase curiosity for creative avenues for personal exploration and growth.
• Increase awareness of the importance of community engagement.
• Move our audience through revealing genuine and impactful human stories.

Medium Term –
• Inspire an active seeking of creative avenues for personal exploration and group settings that foster connection and understanding.
• Inspire the viewer to dedicate quality time with family and friends that prioritizes presence.
• Inspire curiosity and exploration into compassionate ways of being with self and others.
Long Term
•Create momentum for the viewer to practice unconditional positive regard for self and others.
• To inspire the viewer to actively contribute to the cultivation of a healthy community


How will this documentary achieve its outcomes?

To achieve our aims, we will host screenings of the film followed by QandA sessions with the Production team. These events will facilitate further understanding of the importance of presence, self-awareness, Arts practice and community engagement.
To extend the film’s impact, the film website will be a portal for additional resources, including Alchemy practices and research by Dance leaders. It will also contain resources on alternative arts practices and self-development courses, for those inspired to seek a nourishing process and community.
For those interested in the Alchemy work, new students can gain access either in the studio or online. Teachers can also access Alchemy Teacher Training -inspiring trainees to take Alchemy philosophies into their own teaching practices workplaces. Anne is currently writing an accompanying manuscript, Embodied Presence – which will enhance the film’s impact.
Our Marketing Strategy includes Facebook and Instagram posts, providing inspiration.


How will partnerships with this project help inform the project development?

Alchemy has filming partnerships with two studios: Dancehouse and Green Monday Studios. Both organizations prioritize embodied practice and advocate for increased involvement in Dance, recognizing its significance as a gateway to creativity, community engagement, health and well-being. With shared objectives to us, both studios generously support our work.

We are currently in partnership with the City of Melbourne. Encouraged by the council’s endorsement, we are planning a test screening in the City of Melbourne, at Victorian College of Arts (Federation Hall Cinema), where two Production members teach. A Panel discussion will follow the screening, focusing on the documentary making process, as well as themes of the project.

An anonymous philanthropist recently contributed a generous amount towards the documentary. The benefactor’s wish is that we truthfully depict the Alchemy class and its community – and we will honor this commitment.

Audience Engagement and Social Impact

What actions does this project hope for its viewers after seeing this film?

• Actively seek creative avenues for personal exploration and expression
• Actively support the Dance and the Arts through attending performances or philanthropy
• Actively seek group settings that foster connection, compassion, empathy and understanding
• Have increased motivation to practice new ways of being individually with self and others, prioritizing positive community connection and experience unconditional positive regard
• Explore practices and literature focusing on presence and mindfulness
• Reflect on intimacy and find ways to increase this in their lives, leading to better mental health outcomes. This is especially relevant as we emerge from COVID lockdown.
• Have intentional, quality time with family, friends and loves ones
• Take the themes of connection, creativity, courage and compassion into their workplaces, families and social circles - activating transformative change

Measurement and Evaluation

What is the projects indicators for success?

• Verbal or written feedback on the Documentary - either online via email, social media or in-person at screenings
• Increased engagement with the film’s website, Youtube, social media and Instagram platforms
• Increased audience members’ feedback of their experiences of authenticity and personal discovery in their art, work or life
• Increased audience members’ feedback of their own stories of creative arts practice, self-expression and self-awareness
• Increased audience members’ feedback regarding connection, community and intimacy in their lives or workplaces
• Increased audience members’ feedback of greater community engagement, and as an outcome, improved mental health
• Increased engagement with and appreciation of the Arts sector in our society
• Increased online following of Alchemy Dance Improvisation
• Increased participation in Alchemy classes, teacher training and resources