News

Visit by American Dance Abroad director

Andrea Snyder is co-director of American Dance Abroad, a new initiative in the US that promotes the export of American dance. Andrea was formerly CEO of Dance USA, and is a valued colleague of Ausdance.

Andrea will be visiting Australia for the Australian Performing Arts Market (APAM) in February, so we’re putting her in touch with the Australia Council and dance producers in Sydney and Melbourne before she goes on to APAM. She'll see a lot of Australian dance while she's here and importantly will be establishing Australian networks for possible future exchanges.

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Dance training in Australia

One of the great advantages of working with Ausdance National is the opportunity to see performances and appreciate some of the excellent dance training we have in this country.

In Perth recently for the Ausdance directors’ meeting, I was lucky enough to catch Summerdance, the end-of-year performance by WAAPA students who premiered Balanchine’s great classic, Serenade, staged by Balanchine Trust repetiteur Eve Lawson. The work was beautifully performed, as WA’s 7.30 program reported, and the students also gave outstanding performances of works by Gabrielle Nankivell, Xiao-Xiong Zhang and Natalie Weir.

This week we’ve seen On Course in Canberra, QL2’s program of student work from a range of tertiary dance courses in Australia. Apart from exceptionally strong technique, the students’ maturity in communicating their ideas made for an entertaining and thought-provoking program.

I’d also been lucky enough to see the Paris Conservatoire student season in November in a program that included Noces by Angelin Preljocalj, and works by Hofesh Shechter and Thomas Lebrun. These students were also outstanding, but it's no surprise that it confirms Australian dance training as being up there with the world’s best!

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Canadian cultural policy researcher visits

This week we hosted Shannon Litzenberger in Canberra as part of her research into Australian cultural policy. Shannon is a Canadian dance artist, writer, director and advocate who we first met at the 2009 Dance Congress in Hamburg.

Shannon is particularly interested in the political process of developing a national cultural policy; the ways in which new funding models might be developed; the cultural diplomacy strategies of the government; the National Cultural Policy Discussion Paper and the various (and many) responses received by the government as part of its consultation.

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Tanja Liedtke digital archive

In news that will particularly interest Australian dance researchers, educators and students, the Tanja Liedtke Foundation has announced that it has created the Tanja Liedtke digital archive, now freely accessible to anyone who is interested in knowing more about Tanja’s life and work.

The Foundation has also announced that one of Tanja's works, construct, has been voted by The Monthly magazine as one of 20 Australian masterpieces, across all art forms, since the year 2000. The work was declared the masterpiece in the category of contemporary dance, a great achievement!

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Dance support organisations meet in Paris

Last week 25 dance support organisations met in Paris for three days of talks, presentations and performances. As we are members of the World Dance Alliance Asia Pacific, we had also organised for WDA people to provide this mainly European group with more information about its activities.

These annual meetings are an opportunity to share dance support strategies, ideas and visions for the future. We were invited on the first day to share this year’s achievements, a challenge for many European organisations that face severe funding cuts. Despite funding difficulties all round, presentations were inspirational and visionary for dance, and we came away with many ideas for collaborations and future planning with now-familiar colleagues such as Madeline Ritter and Ingo Diehl (Germany), Caroline Miller (Dance UK) and our French colleagues Agnès Wasserman and Frédéric Moreau.

Delegates at Paris meeting of dance support organisations. Ingo Diehl (centre) is the Tanzplan Deutschland Educational Program Director.

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Ausdance directors meet in Perth

Ausdance network directors usually meet twice a year to share ideas, update one another on projects and work toghether on plans for the future.

Last week it was Ausdance WA's turn to host the directors' meeting, and it was great to be back in the purpose built dance spaces at the King St Arts Centre where the meetings were held. While not all directors could be present this time, we heard about many excitinfg national projects, including plans for dance in the new Australian Curriculum, the 2012 Australian Youth Dance Festival to be held in Sydney next Easter, the launch of the Live Performance Training Package, the World Dance Alliance festival to be held in Taiwan next July, and, of course, the 2012 Australian Dance Awards to be held at the Heath Ledger Theatre in Perth on 1 September.

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Youth dance—where does it fit?

In responding to our suggestion of a campaign to support the smaller key dance organisations, Ruth Osborne, artistic director of QL2 Dance, came in to discuss some of the issues youth dance companies are experiencing.

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Time for a funding review of smaller dance companies

Recent funding decisions across all sectors of the small to medium performing arts sector have highlighted the widening gap between what was considered to be 'adequate' funding for these companies five years ago, and the reality of their existence today. While we highlighted the issues in our contribution to the National Cultural Policy discussion paper, we also plan see the Arts Minister, Simon Crean, to again draw his attention to the parlous state of funding for smaller key organisations, especially in dance.

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Our new website is here

Hello. Thanks for joining us. Finally we're alive. Bet you were wondering what we've been doing!

Well, last year we talked to our dance partners and contributors about what information they wanted, needed and expected from our website. We also looked at the amazing work they had written and we'd published over the last 10+ years. A lot of it was very interesting and answered many questions, but it was trapped on paper collecting dust on the shelf. We also realised that we spent a lot of time making things happen with not much time left to tell you about it along the way.

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Our contribution to the National Cultural Policy discussion paper

We joined the many artists, companies and community organisations and made a submission to the National Cultural Policy discussion paper.

Because we think it’s important for the dance voice to be heard as part of the wider arts industry, we also coordinated the submissions from ArtsPeak and the National Advocates for Arts Education.

You can keep in touch with the development of the National Cultural Policy by joining the Arts Minister’s e-news.

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Writing the Australian Curriculum in the arts gets underway

Last week we joined other advisers and writers of the new Australian Curriculum in the Arts for a three-day induction meeting with ACARA (the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority). We worked intensively together to understand cross-curriculum, Indigenous and disability priorities, and in our own art forms to look at various aspects of the new curriculum.

Art form writers now have a tight timeline to complete first drafts, and advisers will have opportunities to review them in November and December. It’s anticipated that work will then continue into January and February before broader consultation begins.

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Making an Australian arts curriculum work

When the National Advocates for Arts Education (NAAE) met in Sydney last month, we identified some of the things that all governments—Federal, State and Territory—will have to provide if they're to resource the Australian Curriculum in the Arts.

With the arts curriculum to begin trialling next year, we've lobbying for:

  • Upgraded teacher training and professional development in each art form, especially for primary school teachers.
  • Curriculum materials such as science's Primary Connections.
  • Space within schools for safe learning environments.
  • Clarification of the role of specialist teachers, artists in schools and arts companies.

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Diversifying dancers’ careers

We want dance artists to be able to diversify their careers, get more training if they need it and earn a realistic income.

Because we want to work with governments to reinvent a program that worked so well, we’ve commissioned Shane Carroll to review the SCOPE (Securing Career Opportunities and Professional Employment) program and provide us with the evidence we need to make the arguments. Shane has been one of the program’s leading advocates and drivers.

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Postcard from the future

The Prime Minister, in her role as chair of the standing committee on the arts, today announced a significant program of research and development for dance that she said would provide Australia with a major advantage over France, its nearest rival in recognising dance as its most important cultural export. The ABC interrupted its sports broadcast to bring this contemporary dance update direct from the Prime Minister's office.

This was how we interpreted a request from ABC Radio National for a 'postcard from the future' during an interview about the arts and cultural policy in Australia. The program will go to air early next year, and the intention is to "reflect ... the broad policy shift from a vision about Australia developing and presenting a unique Australian cultural identity, to that of a sustainable arts and cultural industry or sector".

We'll let you know when the program is due to go to air.

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ArtsPeak and ABC arts programming

The two program that most often profile Australian dance and its creators are still in danger of being axed—so we were pleased when ArtsPeak's submission to the Senate inquiry into ABC programming was profiled in the Sydney Morning Herald arts pages.

Ausdance NSW director Cathy Murdoch will represent us at a meeting to be convened by our ArtsPeak colleague, Tamara Winikoff, with the ABC's Managing Director, Mark Scott. We'll update you after the meeting.

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WDA Asia Pacific meeting in Kuala Lumpur

This week I've been representing Ausdance at the Asia Pacific International Dance Conference and yesterday's World Dance Alliance AGM in Kuala Lumpur, where a new Executive Board was elected and the role of the networks reviewed.

The networks are a particularly valuable way for Australian dance people to get involved with WDA, so if you're interested in knowing more about them (see below), please contact us at Ausdance National. All Ausdance members are automatically members of WDA Asia Pacific and it's a great opportunity to extend your own networks and participate in new culturally diverse opportunities at the annual WDA conferences and festivals.

Australian & New Zealanders at the World Dance Alliance conference. L to R: Jeff Meiners, Ralph Buck, Tina Hong

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New Australian dance book launched

Shaping the Landscape: Celebrating Dance in Australia was launched by high profile Malaysian architect Hijjas Kasturi yesterday at the World Dance Alliance conference in Kuala Lumpur, in the presence of the Australian High Commissioner to Malaysia, Miles Kupa, and other dignatories. Read his speech.

This is a new Routledge publication which I've co-edited with Stephanie Burridge, so it was exciting to see it launched along with the Malaysian edition, Sharing Identities. These volumes are the third and fourth in the Celebrating dance in Asia and the Pacific series.

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Ausdance supports submission into ABC arts programming

We've just signed a submission to the Senate Inquiry into recent ABC programming decisions, a move led by our ArtsPeak colleague NAVA (National Association for the Visual Arts).

We've been concerned by announcements lately that the ABC plans to axe some arts programs, but we're also keen to see regular arts news integrated across the news rather than as a token 'what's on' item at the end. ArtsPeak also made the point that the ABC's other arts programming should not be left under-resourced or dumbed down for the sake of ratings.

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