Ever since we convened the 2005 Creating Pathways national Indigenous dance forum in Canberra, Lee Christofis—one of the keynote speakers, and now curator of dance at the National Library of Australia—has been keen to develop the NLA's Indigenous dance collection.
In the March 2012 edition of National Library News, Lee discusses some of the material now held in the collection and outlines the importance of its provenance.
Building the Indigenous contemporary dance collection makes fascinating reading for anyone interested in the development of Australian contemporary Indigenous dance.
ArtsPeak representatives met again with the ABC to lobby for more cultural content in ABC news and current affairs programs. General Manager Mark Scott had previously met with the group, and this time ArtsPeak met with Don Lang, the Head of News Programming, and Alan Sunderland, the Head of News Policy,
A process was agreed on to review arts content for news and current affairs programs, and on a process for arts representatives to contact appropriate reporters. The following strategies were suggested to ArtsPeak:
- Arts representatives should consider what the issues are and whether they are newsworthy.
- We should develop a central arts representatives contact register.
- We should focus on stories that utilise ABC research and archives.
We'll be working with our ArtsPeak colleagues to maximise this positive response from the ABC, and making sure dance is part of the story telling!
Arts curriculum writing for Foundation to Year 10 is well underway.
The draft rationale, aims and broad scope and sequence have already been reviewed by a state and territory national panel, and we joined other professional associations last week to review the drafts. We'd been invited to ask four teachers from across Australia to provide feedback, and Dr Katrina Rank, education and training manager for Ausdance Victoria, collated their feedback and led the discussion for dance.
We also represented the National Advocates for Arts Education (NAAE) in the teleconference, which was chaired by the general manager (curriculum) of the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA), Robert Randall.
We'll be calling for further dance commentary in the coming weeks as the drafts are developed by the writers, and ACARA will make the curriculum available for public comment in May. In the meantime, you can sign up for regular ACARA updates.
Following news last year that the ABC would axe several of its most successful arts programs, the national broadcaster has announced the appointment of a new head of TV arts, Katrina Sedgwick.
Formerly director of the Adelaide Film Festival, Katrina will commence work with the ABC in April.
Li Cunxin has been announced as the new Artistic Director of the Queensland Ballet. He will take up his appointment in July this year, six months before the departure of the current Director, François Klaus. His appointment follows an international search by the Queensland Ballet.
Li's autiobiography and the film Mao's Last Dancer have built his international reputation, not only as a fine dancer but as an inspirational leader. We congratulate Li on another great achievement!
Read about his ideas for the company in this interview with the Brisbane Courier Mail.
There are some startling new figures that support dancing as a protective strategy in preventing dementia. A Stanford University report Use It or Lose It: Dancing Makes You Smarter makes the following comparisons:
... almost none of the physical activities appeared to offer any protection against dementia. There can be cardiovascular benefits of course, but the focus of this study was the mind. There was one important exception: the only physical activity to offer protection against dementia was frequent dancing.
- Reading—35% reduced risk of dementia
- Bicycling and swimming—0%
- Doing crossword puzzles at least four days a week—47%
- Playing golf—0%
- Dancing frequently—76%.
The same university offers other insights into the benefits of dance in Thoughts, philosophies and musings on social dance, a useful reference for community dance practitioners in Australia.
When the President of MyDance Alliance, Bilqis Hiijas, visited Canberra from Malaysia this week, we took the opportunity to introduce her to several of Australia's leading cultural institutions. We also heard about the artists' residency program she helps to run at her family's compound, Rimbun Dahan in Kuala Lumpur.
Bilqis is the new editor of Asia Pacific Channels, the newsletter we produce on behalf of the World Dance Alliance Asia Pacific. It's exciting to be sharing the task with her, and her visit to Canberra gave us a chance to meet her in person for the first time.
Bilqis was very interested in our partnerships with the National Library of Australia and the National Film and Sound Archive, so we organised tours of both institutions to meet the curators and get an idea of the great range of dance materials held by both institutions. She's hoping to form similar relationships with archives in Malaysia.
In its 50th anniversary year, The Australian Ballet is celebrating a new rising star in its ranks, Chinese Australian dancer Chengwu Guo.
The ABC's 7.30 program profiles his work and interviews his mentor Li Cunxin, the teenage dancer Chen played in Mao's Last Dancer, the hugely successful film based on Li's autobiography.
Former balleriona Josephine Spaull, respected ballet teacher, Tanya Pearson, and Judith Anderson, formerly General Manager of The Queensland Ballet, have today been awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM).
Josephine was recognised for “for service to the performing arts, particularly dance, as a teacher and administrator". Tanya's citation was "for service to the performing arts, particularly ballet, as a teacher and mentor to young dancers". Judith's citation was "for service to the Queensland Ballet and to women". We congratulate Josephine, Tanya and Judith for their outstanding achievements.
The website It's an Honour has all the information you'll need to nominate more dance people for Australia's highest Honours!
There have been celebrations around the country today for our new Australian of the Year, actor Geoffrey Rush.
We congratulate him on his acceptance speech that placed the arts at the centre of Australian life and culture. He acknowledged the role of the First Australians, and said he was sure "that my colleagues will see this as an endorsement of our national story of creativity".
Senior Australian of the Year is Laurie Baymarrwangga, an extraordinary elder from the island of Murrungga in East Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory.
The Australian of the Year Awards were announced last night by the Prime Minister.
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.
This week there were some major ministerial announcements around the development of the National Cultural Policy (NCP), including a review of the Australia Council. It is widely expected that the Government will announce new ideas and programs that the Australia Council will deliver as part of the NCP.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.