Ausdance National Council President’s Report – December 2017

As the end of the year draws closer, it has provided the opportunity to reflect on what a year 2017 has been for Ausdance National.

Firstly, we turned 40! It is incredible and humbling to reflect upon Ausdance National’s achievements over the past 40 years, including the huge number of people that have made significant contributions to supporting, advancing, promoting and celebrating the dance sector. While there were a number of key events and activities that assisted in celebrating this important milestone, a detailed outline of all these achievements can be found on the Ausdance National website.

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Dance in Proximity: World Dance Alliance Asia Pacific Conference & AGM

Taipei National University of the Arts, 10–11 November 2017

There were some special moments at the Dance in Proximity conference, hosted in Taiwan by the Taipei National University of the Arts in November, and organised by a wonderful team of artists, choreographers and teachers, led by Yunyu Wang.

dancer spinningMunguntsetseg Munkhbadrakh demonstrating traditional Mongolian dance movements during the Cross-cultural Dance Education session. Photo Julie Dyson

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National Advocates for Arts Education 2017 arts education advocacy

The NAAE has had another busy year advocating on behalf of all five arts subjects in the Australian Curriculum: The Arts. In 2017 we – 

  • Prepared a submission into the Inquiry into innovation and creativity: workforce for the new economy (co-authored by John Saunders and Sandra Gattenhof with input from all other artform members of NAAE).
  • Met with Inquiry member Ann Sudmalis MP, thanking her for her role in drafting and supporting recommendation 10 of the review (released on 20 June): 

The Committee recommends that the National Innovation and Science Agenda explicitly recognise the importance of STEAM, creative digital skills, the creative industries and the arts more generally.

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Fatigue identified as major contributor to injury in Australia’s professional dancers

The Safe Dance Report IV: Investigating injuries in Australia’s professional dancers, published today on the Ausdance National website, examines the Australian context and occurrence of injury in professional dancers and makes recommendations to support sustainable, healthy, and productive dancing careers.

A collaboration between The University of Sydney and Ausdance National, Safe Dance IV is the fourth in a series of Safe Dance research projects. It continues the important work started by Ausdance National almost 30 years ago.

The survey of 195 Australian professional dancers found 97% experienced at least one significant injury in their dance career, compared with 89% in 1999. And 73% of dancers reported experiencing a dance-related injury in the past 12 months.

Author and lead researcher Amy Jo Vassallo, a PhD candidate at the Faculty of Health Sciences at The University of Sydney, said the consequences of these injuries can be quite substantial and include missed performance opportunities and income, ongoing pain and disability, and expensive treatment including surgery. Serious injuries can even lead to early retirement from dance careers and lifelong disability.

‘The proportion of dancers reporting fatigue as a contributing factor to their injury has increased from 26% in 1990 and 33% in 1999 to 48% in 2017’ she said.

‘However, compared with previous Safe Dance survey results, fewer dancers reported poor technique or environment as a contributor to their injury. This demonstrates the benefits of education, policies and interventions regarding safe dancing practice for dancers and teachers at all stages of a dance career, including early teaching and pre-professional training’.

Ausdance National President, Professor Gene Moyle, said the Safe Dance Report IV continues an important lineage for the Australian dance community. Hearing the words “safe dance practice” being so much a part of our language and approach within the dance sector today is a testament to the impact and contribution of the collective Safe Dance reports within our industry.

Recommendations have outlined that access to dance-educated or dance-specialised healthcare services is essential; addressing the cultural aspects of injury reporting is critical; and that a better acknowledgement of the psychological and psychosocial aspects of injury is required.

Key findings

Survey respondents’ employment as a dance performer was most commonly with a dance company (66%) or as an independent dance artist (38%).

Injuries remain common in professional dance, with 73% of professional dancers reporting experiencing an injury in the past 12 months. The most common site of injury was the ankle (26%), followed by the knee (11%) and hip (10%).

The most common injury type was a strain (25%), followed by chronic inflammation (19%) and a sprain (18%).

There was one accidental or traumatic injury for every two overuse or gradual injuries. The most common responses regarding the self-reported contributor to injury were fatigue (48%), followed by new or difficult choreography (39%) and ignoring early warning signs (31%).

Despite 62% of respondents reporting belief that there is still stigma associated with sustaining injuries as a professional dancer, 75% of dancers did say they would seek professional opinion if they suspected an injury. However, only 50% stated they would tell someone within their dance employment and 49% said they would also take their own preventative steps to manage their injury.

Despite seeing a clinician for treatment of their injury, 40% of dancers whose injury was currently unresolved were unsure if their injury would resolve in the foreseeable future. This indicates that many dancers need to be provided with improved and realistic expectations of their injury, capacity to dance during their injury and likely return to full dance ability.

For interview contact:

Amy Vassallo | PhD Candidate
Faculty of Health Sciences
The University of Sydney
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 02 9351 9010 and 02 9351 9108

Ausdance National Council – Ausdance Inc.
Email: [email protected]
Phone: +61 7 3138 3616

Download Safe Dance Report IV media release

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World Dance Alliance Asia Pacific—November 2017 update

WDA Asia Pacific will elect a new Executive Board and regional Vice Presidents at its Annual General Meeting on Saturday 11 November in Taipei. Nominations were called for several weeks ago, and the AGM agenda circulated.

WDAAP President, Yunyu Wang (Taiwan), will step down at this meeting, as she has served a maximum term as President. Urmimala Sarkar Munsi (India), the current Vice President, has been nominated to step into that position, but at the time of writing nominations for other positions are still being received.

Also on the AGM agenda is a proposal to clarify the roles and responsibilities of regional Vice Presidents for East Asia, South East Asia, South Asia and the Pacific. The current edition of Asia Pacific Channels has a full list of the Executive Board members, and this list will be updated in the December edition following the election.

We also have a proposal from the Education & Training network co-chairs, Ralph Buck and Jeff Meiners, for formalising the selection of network chairs. At present these are un-elected positions, but the proposal is for a more formal approach to appointing network chairs (also listed in Channels), and for mentoring younger WDA members to take on these roles. The four networks are Education & Training, Creation & Presentation, Research & Documentation and Support & Development.

Participants at a planning meeting in Adelaide for Panpapanpalya 2018, led by Jeff Meiners and Ralph Buck. Photo: Julie Dyson

Finally, another reminder to put the dates in your diary for next year’s Joint Dance Congress, Panpapanpalya 2018, to be held in Adelaide from 8–13 July. There will be a hugely exciting and stimulating program of academic papers, performances, panel discussions, workshops and, of course, networking with peers from all over the world, with a special focus on young people and dance. Earlybird registrations are on sale until 1 February 2018.

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National Advocates for Arts Education November 2017 update

Since our last report, NAAE has been engaged in meetings and correspondence with the NSW Education Minister, Mr Rob Stokes, and the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) about the development of a new Creative Arts syllabus in NSW.

NAAE’s concerns about the new syllabus centre around the exclusion of Media Arts as a discrete subject in the arts curriculum. In its meetings with NESA staff and in a letter to Mr Stokes, NAAE made several points about the essential role of Media Arts in a 21st Century curriculum:

  • The exclusion of Media Arts means that NSW students are being denied the opportunity available to every student in every other educational jurisdiction in the country to engage with 21st Century media, art forms and learning. The NESA Creative Arts draft directions provide a very mid to late 20th Century approach, setting directions that are limiting rather than enabling.
  • The notion of Media (Arts) being taught across the curriculum is fine as a tool to assist learning in other subject areas, but it denies the existence of Media Arts as a separate but equal art form. This ad hoc approach means it will not be taught at all or it will be covered inadequately, denying Media Arts practice as a discrete art form. Other jurisdictions have found with other subjects that ‘everywhere across the curriculum’ actually means nowhere. 

NAAE also made a submission to the Gonski Review to Achieve Educational Excellence in Australian Schools, authored by lead writers Sandra Gattenhof and John Saunders (Drama Australia). In an eight-page submission we recommended:

  • The full implementation of the Australian Curriculum: The Arts in all states and territories in Australia, across the primary and secondary years of schooling.
  • Increased professional learning opportunities across the five Arts subjects (Dance, Drama, Media Arts, Music and Visual Arts) in primary schools to support teachers to effectively teach The Arts and improve student academic and non-academic outcomes in Arts and non-Arts areas.
  • Increased time allocated in pre-service teacher training for primary teachers to gain further expertise in teaching The Arts.

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Ausdance National Council President’s update – Nov 2017

While it only feels like yesterday that the 2017 Australian Dance Award winners were announced, nominations for the 2018 ADAs have opened! You can find information on selection criteria, an eligible works list, and a link to the nominations page at Australian Dance Awards 2018. The awards ceremony will be produced by partner Ausdance QLD and held in Brisbane in August 2018. Stay tuned for the confirmed dates and further information on this important ‘night of nights’ for the Australian Dance community.

For those that were in attendance at the 2017 National Dance Forum – ‘Dance in the Digital Domain’, keep an eye out for a survey that will arrive in your inboxes shortly. The NDF 2017 program was action-packed, and now that everyone has had a bit of time to digest and reflect on all the inspiring and thought-provoking presentations, it will be important to hear from you about what worked well and what might be done differently for next time!

The Australian Alliance for Wellness in Entertainment (AAWE), launched on World Mental Health Day (10th October), has gained impressive cross-sector support! A significant number of organisations and individuals have signed up as members, with the national AAWE Roadshow about to commence. For further information on the events across the country, please visit their website.

Ausdance National continues to work with the broader arts sector in supporting and advocating for dance. Working closely with colleagues from the Australian Major Performing Arts Group (AMPAG) and Symphony Australia, an individual submission for dance was made in October in response to the consultation by the Federal Government on the Skilled Migration Occupation Lists regarding 457 Visas. Additionally, Julie Dyson, Ausdance National’s representative for a range of peak arts bodies, provides an update below regarding sector activities, issues and advocacy.

The Safe Dance Report IV will soon be released, which will provide a critical snapshot of issues related to injuries in professional dancers in Australia. Building upon the previous Safe Dance Reports, this current research by Amy Jo Vassallo has identified important information that will advance the knowledge, application and education of all within our sector to ensure safe dance practice continues to support the health and wellbeing of our dancing careers.

Have a wonderful month of November!

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ArtsPeak update—November 2017

After much consultation and discussion, the ArtsPeak Executive Committee has sent the following letter to all members. The committee will monitor any developments at national political level to ensure that there is still a voice, when, for example, a Federal election is called. The letter reads as follows:

Thanks so much for your feedback and thoughts, and also your kind words about the Executive’s role with ArtsPeak. We heard back from more than half of the current ArtsPeak membership. 

Overwhelmingly you have supported our proposal to put ArtsPeak on the backburner for now, to support other initiatives such as The New Approach, to monitor where the advocacy gaps are, and to look at what model would be appropriate to build for the future. 

It was clear from responses that ArtsPeak is well regarded for its work to date, particularly its role in reversing the budget changes of 2014 and 2015, and there is sadness around having to put that work on hold. 

No alternative suggestions were made about how we might resource some pro-active work in the short-term, and everyone agrees that the work can’t continue at the same pace without human and dollar resources. 

The following has been agreed (from November 2017):

  1. Observe and support the work of the Australian Academy of the Humanities and Newgate Communications (as the successful tenderers for the New Approach project), as well as projects such as Arts Front, and the new wave of First Nations service organisations;
  2. Retain the ArtsPeak brand and collateral under the supervision of the Executive, to use at a future date if and when appropriate; 
  3. Support the current individual ArtsPeak members to continue to liaise with each other and work towards a stronger arts sector (but not for the moment under the ArtsPeak brand);  
  4. As the New Approach rolls out and other work is implemented, the Executive will monitor where the gaps are, and look at what model would be appropriate to build, at a future date.  

You are welcome to get in touch with any of the executive members, or the broader ArtsPeak membership at any time. Below is the list for your information and for one-on-one communication. 

Executive Committee

  • Henry Boston, Chamber of Arts and Culture WA
  • Merryn Carter, Performing Arts Touring Alliance (PATA) 
  • Norm Horton & Sarah Moynihan, Feral Arts
  • Julie Dyson, Ausdance National, the Childers Group and NAAE
  • Lena Nahlous, Diversity Arts Australia
  • Nicole Beyer, Theatre Network Australia (until November 2017). 
National ArtsPeak forum held in Sydney in 2015 to hear from Arts Minister Senator Mitch Fifield about cuts to Australia Council funding. Photo: Julie Dyson

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Dancer–makers: apply for Tasdance Makers Company

Expressions of interest are sought from contemporary dancer–makers for Tasdance professional ensemble 2018–20.

Tasdance has embarked on a daring new approach to the nature of the professional contemporary dance ensemble to become the Tasdance Makers Company.

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Ausdance National Council President’s update – October 2017

Well what a month it’s been! September saw the successful delivery of the Australian Dance Awards AND the National Dance Forum—in a fabulous partnership with our producing and presenting partners Ausdance Victoria.

The 2017 Australian Dance Awards was a truly wonderful evening of celebration of all things dance, particularly the winning artists, companies, choreographers, educators, and creatives announced. To give you a quick sense of what the night entailed, check out Ausdance Victoria’s Facebook page. Congratulations to all nominees and winners, and a big thank you to the sponsors—Arts Centre Melbourne, Harlequin Floors, Equity, Aon, Gaynor Minden and various Victorian-based supporters; the ADA Panel, and Ausdance National and Ausdance Victoria team members who made this event so successful.

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ArtsPeak update October 2017

The ArtsPeak executive is currently exploring possible restructuring and support for the new privately-funded arts advocacy team formed by the Myer Foundation, the Tim Fairfax Family Foundation and the Keir Foundation’s program called A New Approach. The foundation recently announced that the Australian Academy of the Humanities and Newgate Communications have been engaged to deliver the program, and that the foundation will provide $1.65m to establish the lobby group to ‘defend and promote the benefit of intellectual and creative life’.

We have also recently attended a meeting with Andrew Leigh (Member for Fenner), the Opposition Assistant Treasurer, and discussed some options for arts advocacy at Shadow Cabinet level. We hope to respond to the ALP’s invitation to have input into a revised Creative Australia policy prior to the next federal election.

We urge all Ausdance members to re-read the Creative Australia: national cultural policy and send us any suggestions that we might feed into the consultation process.

Julie Dyson, AM

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National Advocates for Arts Education October update

The NAAE will have its next meeting on 11 December, but NSW reps will in the meantime be meeting with NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) to discuss concerns about the way in which the Creative Arts K-6 Syllabus is being rewritten, and about the exclusion of Media Arts from the NSW curriculum, despite agreement by all Australian governments to adopt the Australian Curriculum: The Arts. It’s clear that NSW’s options clearly do not represent the agreement endorsed at COAG (which included the NSW Education Minister). (Minister’s response [PDF 2.9MB]

In the meantime NAAE member Sandra Gattenhoff will be attending an open forum in Brisbane with Arts Minister Mitch Fifield on Thursday 21 November. We hope there will be an opportunity for Sandra to ask whether the Minister would be willing to receive a proposal to fund an inquiry similar to Arts Council England’s Commission to explore the benefits of arts for children.

NAAE has also supported the development of the WA Play Strategy for Early Childhood Australia, as requested by Sandra Hesterman of the Early Childhood Association WA.

Finally, I was a keynote speaker about arts leadership at the Drama Australia Symposium Creative Capital, in conversation with Dr Anita Collins on 30 September in Canberra.

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World Dance Alliance October 2017 update

WDA has convened a small sub-committee to review the structure of the organisation in order to streamline membership and the role of the four networks: Creation & Presentation, Education & Training, Research & Documentation, and Support & Development). I will chair the review team, made up of Linda Caldwell (Americas), Fiona Bannon (Europe) and Urmimala Sarkar Munsi (Asia Pacific). We hope to report back to the Global Executive at the Joint Dance Congress, Panpapanpalya, in Adelaide next year.

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Call for papers—The Oxford Handbook of Contemporary Ballet

Edited Volume: The Oxford Handbook of Contemporary Ballet
Editors: Dr Kathrina Farrugia-Kriel (Faculty of Education, RAD) and Dr Jill Nunes Jensen (Loyola Marymount University)

We are seeking contributions to an edited volume on contemporary ballet. The book will posit ‘Contemporary Ballet’ as a new domain within the broader frameworks presently recognised by discourses in dance.  

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Great news—our fourth keynote speaker for National Dance Forum 2017 is ​Professor Kim Vincs

Kim will provide an exploration and scan of the creative technology intersection—from the beginnings of the digital age and beyond.

Kim VincsKim is Professor of Interactive Media, and Research Director within the Department of Film and Animation at Swinburne University of Technology. She is a leading creative arts researcher with 6 Australian Research Council grants, 35+ industry partnerships, and 20+ arts/science collaborations across fields including dance, motion capture, game development, robotics, haptics, app design, 3D stereoscopy, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, augmented reality, cognitive psychology, biomechanics, mathematics, architecture and exercise science. She has been a choreographer for over 20 years, has created 18 dance technology and digital artworks. Her industry partnerships include national and international companies such as Autodesk, Motion Analysis, Act3animation, Iloura, Alt.vfx, Arts Access Victoria, Victorian Opera and Australian Dance Theatre. She has commercial motion capture credits for several computer games, television commercials and film projects, including the Cannes Silver Lion winning Nocturnal Migration. She is currently developing a new centre for Transformative Media Technologies at Swinburne University of Technology with Professor Angela Ngdalianis.

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