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World’s best address mental health and resilience through the arts

More than 80 presenters from around Australia and the world will share their expertise at The Art of Good Health and Wellbeing: 9th Annual International Arts and Health Conference, at the Art Gallery of NSW in Sydney from 30 October – 1 November.

Some have decades of dedication to the Arts and Health. Others, equally passionate, are just beginning their journey, with fresh approaches to the powerful impact the arts can have on mental and physical health of people of all ages, with a special focus on ageing.

Convenor Margret Meagher said the wide range of arts and health topics encompassed art, poetry, music and song, dance, theatre, film, craft and cuisine and dealt with aged care, dementia, veterans, prisoners, child and youth mental health and women’s health.

The need for interconnection between generations and knowledge transfer is also addressed, along with how to design and deliver meaningful programs, how to measure success and provide new insights and education for staff and carers and to share government and non-government knowledge and resources.

The overarching theme of the conference is Mental Health and Resilience through the Arts, with three key areas explored being Mental Health and Resilience, Creative Ageing, and Arts and Health in Hospitals, Healthcare Services and Health Promotion.

With the world’s older population increasing exponentially, and no known cure for dementia, which affects one in 10 people over the age of 65, the evidence that engagement in creative activities can have a major impact on older people’s quality of life is the focus of a number of presentations.

Plenary speaker, Francois Matarasso, who has worked in community arts in over 35 countries since 1981 as an artist, producer and researcher and has published influential works on the social outcomes of participation in the arts, will explore how artistic practice can change people’s experience of old age. Francois says his work is based on ‘the belief that everyone has the right to create art and to share the result, as well as to enjoy and participate in the creations of others’.

Fellow plenary speaker, Brisbane’s Michael Balfour will address the arts and ageing through applied theatre, with ‘play’ used to re-empower dementia patients and positively change their relationships, while Norway’s Audun Myskja and England’s David Savill discuss the power of music, and reminiscence theatre respectively.

Katrina Rank, Ausdance Victoria’s director of Education, Training and Lifelong Learning, will examine whether Australia is ready for the senior demand for dance classes, Liz Avern-Briers looks at revaluing Hong Kong’s elderly and Danielle Barry uses music and museum experiences to engage people with early-stage dementia and their carers.

Michelle Weiner will also walk us through England’s first purpose-built art gallery, Dulwich Picture Gallery, and its cutting-edge ‘Good Times’ program for older people.

Canada’s George Belliveau, also a plenary speaker, shares a remarkable story of healing in which veterans who served in Afghanistan collaborated with health and theatre researchers to produce and act in a play Contact!Unload, which has been performed for soldiers, veterans and civilians, including Canadian Parliament and England’s Prince Harry and was presented at the Invictus Games. A one-act version of the play, tracing the men’s inner struggles, survivor’s guilt and camaraderie, and their pathway towards healing, will be presented at the conference.

‘These veterans have journeyed from the battlefield to the counselling room to the theatre, where they perform their lived experiences’, George said.

Vegar Rangul, from Norway, examines an integrated program of music, song and movement for employees in health care, and Michael Camit and Kevin Bathman discuss the Pink Sari Melodies Song-writing Competiton, which increased NSW breast screening in women from India and Sri Lanka by 17%.

Mixing music and intergenerational collaboration, plenary speaker Andrea Creech discusses musical pathways as a source of life strengths that nurture resilient and creative later life, and explores how creative musical social networks support feelings of belonging and worth.

Creative writing can also impact well-being. Nicki Cassimatis shares how poetry helped her express and contain intense emotions, problem-solve and heal following a mid-life battle with depression and anxiety in Words to Raise Me Up, while Roslyn and Chris Poulos champion the concept of Arts on Prescription in Australia and discuss their program of participatory arts for people over 65 experiencing a range of health and wellbeing challenges including frailty, declining physical function, anxiety, depression, mild cognitive impairment, bereavement, social isolation and/or carer burden.

To find out more, go to the Australian Centre for Arts and Health website. #artshealth17

The Art of Good Health and Wellbeing Conference

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Nominate for 2018 Australian Dance Awards

Were you excited or moved by a performance in 2017? Did a particular dancer deliver a stunning performance? Perhaps you saw some outstanding and innovative choreography?

Now is the time to submit your nominations for the 2018 Awards.

You might like to look at the eligible works list if you need help remembering what your saw in 2017. This list is collated throughout the year and is intended as a reminder only. If you think a work is missing please email the nominations coordinator.

For an effective nomination in the most appropriate category, you should read the selection criteria first and be sure to provide a meaningful and concise comment about why you think a performance/performer is exceptional and worthy. 

Professional writers, teachers, designers etc. working extensively in the dance sector over several decades may also be nominated for an award for services to dance or serviced to dance education.

Nominees for a Lifetime Achievement award must be prominent senior figures in the Australian dance community who have dedicated at least 40 years to the industry. 

The Australian Ballet's Nijinsky was shortlisted for Outstanding Performance by a Company in 2017. Soloist: Valerie Tereshchenko Photo: Kate Longley

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The Australian Society for Performing Arts Healthcare Symposium

Theme: Don’t Tell Me to Rest! The Reality of Performing Arts Healthcare
When: Saturday, 25 November
Where: Peppers Salt Resort & Spa, Kingscliff, NSW

The symposium will bring together clinicians, researchers and performing artists from around the country to explore the unique challenges of artists like musicians, actors, dancers and singers. The event will feature keynote speaker, Associate Professor David Butler, a physiotherapist, educationalist, researcher and clinician. Dr Butler will present a lecture discussing the contributions of neuroscience to understanding both pain and performance, and a workshop exploring practical applications for managing and understanding our own pain. Researchers and clinicians in the field will present their latest research and discuss possible strategies for overcoming the health challenges associated with being a performing artist.

ASPAH is led by a national committee of volunteers who are passionate about the importance of high-quality healthcare for performing artists; the committee includes healthcare professionals, pedagogues, researchers and performing artists.

For more information, visit Australian Society for Performing Arts Healthcare.

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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.

Directly following this ‘night of nights’ for the Australian Dance community, was the 2017 National Dance Forum—kindly supported by the Australia Council for the Arts. Themed ‘Dance in the Digital Domain’, this was an action-packed program that brought together thinkers, makers and researchers from both within and outside the dance community. An evaluation of the 2017 NDF is coming soon with the aim of collecting feedback to inform the type of post-NDF activities that the sector has identified it requires. 

Ausdance National additionally attended the inaugural meeting on 27 September 2017 of the Australian Alliance for Wellness in Entertainment (AAWE), an initiative of Entertainment Assist. AAWE officially launches on World Mental Health Day—Tuesday 10 October, and is a very exciting initiative for dance to be involved with, given it is a world-first, cross-sector initiative for shared interest in positive mental health and wellbeing behaviours for a sustainable Australian entertainment industry. Further updates including details of a national AAWE Roadshow across late November-December 2017 are coming.

Thank you again to all the wonderful members of our vibrant and caring dance community that either attended, participated, presented or performed in the Australian Dance Awards and National Dance Forum. We look forward to reconnecting with you in following up on these key events and planning for the future.

Stay Connected. Subscribe to our e-news. dance sector advocacy, career development support, fellowships, dance research, safe dance, teaching and business guides. ausdance.org.au. Ausdance President Professor Gene Moyle

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Ausdance SA 40th Birthday Celebrations

Earlier this month Ausdance SA organised a wonderful event at Government House to celebrate its 40th birthday. The Governor, His Excellency the Honourable Hieu Van Le, welcomed Ausdance SA board members, friends and supporters and noted the importance of the organisation to the dance culture of South Australia over the previous four decades. The reception was attended by Ausdance SA’s patron, Elizabeth Cameron Dalman OAM, board chair Jade Erlandsen, Alan Brissendon AM, former staff members and many independent artists, educators and dancers.

Congratulations Ausdance SA!

(L-R) Simone Ivkovic, Cathy Adamek, Robyn Callan, His Excellency the Honourable Hieu Van Le AC and Mrs Le, Ausdance SA President Jade Erlandson, and patron Elizabeth Cameron Dalman, OAM. Photo: JD

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Ausdance National archives at the National Library of Australia

Sandra Macarthur-Onslow and I continue to catalogue the contents of the 200 boxes of Ausdance National’s archives, now lodged at the National Library of Australia.

We are currently about halfway through, and hope to finish this part of the project by Christmas (working on Thursday mornings). There is still additional material in the Ausdance National office to be lodged, including 40 years of minutes, agenda papers, policies & procedures, photographs, etc.

Ausdance National archives at the National Library of Australia

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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.

WDA Asia Pacific will hold its AGM at the Taipei National University of the Arts from 9–11 November, in conjunction with the conference of the Taiwan Dance Research Society ‘Dance in Proximity’. Some of the conference topics include the integration of theory and practice; tradition and change of dance culture; aesthetics of dance creation, and application and research into dance and technology. As secretary, I will assist the President, Yunyu Wang, to develop the WDA meeting agenda, conduct elections for the Executive and act as advisor to the board. We will also report on any Australians who present at the conference.

To celebrate its 70th birthday, the International Theatre Institute (ITI) has made an open call for nominations for authors of next year’s International Dance Day Message. Ausdance National is Australia’s chapter of WDA Asia Pacific, and the board will be nominating an Australian dance artist to deliver the 2018 IDD Message.

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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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Ausdance National Council President’s Report – September 2017

It is all systems go at Ausdance National in light of the upcoming Australian Dance Awards and National Dance Forum—which are only a handful of weeks away! The shortlisted nominees, and the LIfetime Achievement and Hall of Fame recipients have been announced already. The invited speakers and presenters for the 2017 NDF are shaping up to be exceptionally exciting, and the announcement of the final program will be out very soon. Please ensure you book your ADA tickets and register for the NDF as soon as possible as tickets to both events are selling fast!

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​Meeting the future head-on

Can you even remember life before the internet? Hang on, perhaps you weren’t alive.

The digital domain has transformed almost every facet of our lives—but for those of us in the arts, it’s been especially influential in the way we make and consume art. In many ways there have never been more ways to get your art out there, and the artistic possibilities of new technologies are seemingly endless…but life for dance in the digital domain is not without its challenges.

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Noel Tovey AM inducted into the Australian Dance Awards Hall of Fame

Australia's first male ballet dancer of Indigenous heritage, Noel was inspired by a performance of Les Sylphides at the National Theatre in Melbourne. He took classes at the National Theatre Ballet School, studied ballet with Madame Borovansky, Drew Hardy, London Afro Cuban with Katherine Dunham, jazz with Matt Mattox, singing with Joan Arnold at the Melbourne Conservatorium and Rita Godfrey in London, and acting with Hayes Gordon.

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Helen Herbertson receives 2017 Australian Dance Award for Lifetime Achievement

Helen has been an inspirational figure in the world of Australian dance for over four decades. She has led a highly-regarded and multi-faceted career over that time as a performer, choreographer, artistic director, creative collaborator, independent producer, project manager, teacher, performance coach, arts adviser and academic.

Morphia Series by Helen Herbertson and Ben Cobham. This work was awarded Outstanding Achievement in Independent Dance in 2003 Photo: Rachelle Roberts

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National Dance Forum 2017: Dance in the Digital Domain

MEDIA RELEASE (84Kb PDF)

Tuesday 22 August 2017
For immediate release

Australia’s peak dance organisation, Ausdance National, will host a two-day forum next month bringing together dance makers, producers and presenters for a highly topical forum focusing on the future of dance within the digital domain. The National Dance Forum is Australia’s key platform for dance artists, industry professionals and educators in providing rich opportunities to discuss, debate and collaborate with some of the most influential individuals and organisations in the country.

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