'The Australian Youth Dance Festival is such a fantastic opportunity for dancers all over the country to come together in a non-competitive environment where they can meet other people, share their passion and learn from the country's best.' —2014 AYDF Artistic Director Adam Wheeler.
The Australian Youth Dance Festival was created by Ausdance National. It was the nation’s first dance-specific festival for youth. Ausdance National devised and produced the first four Festivals held in Darwin NT(1997), Townsville Qld (1999) and Armidale, NSW (2001 and 2004).
In 2006, Ausdance Victoria hosted the festival in Horsham, Victoria. In 2009, Ausdance WA present the festival in Mandurah, WA. In 2012, Ausdance NSW hosted the festival in Gosford, NSW. And in 2014, Ausdance SA presented the festival in Renmark, SA.
It travels between states approximately every 2–3 years. The festival retains a core structure and purpose at each location; inherent in this is engagement with the local community that hosts the event.
The Australian Youth Dance Festival's unique structure allows young people to engage in creative exchange in a supportive, non-competitive environment that encourages participation and learning.
Young people aged between 15 and 19 years from across Australia and overseas join together for a week of forums, workshops, choreographic activities and performances. The festival is led by a team of professional choreographers, artistic facilitators and dancers who coach the young people in a range of dance styles and choreographic processes.
This festival project provides important choreographic development opportunities for festival participants as well as the tutor/choreographers who are selected to mentor a collaborative site-specific project. Festival participants and choreographers work together each day of the festival to investigate ways of making performance celebrating various perspectives of the festival's place and environment. The process includes discussion, workshops in storytelling, performance making and Indigenous protocols.
- Group presentations & discussion
- Technique and taster classes (am)
- Choreographic workshops to develop a large outdoor site-specific dance theatre work
- Afternoon debrief
- Performances by Australian youth dance companies and groups in the town's professional theatre.
- On the final evening, the site-specific work is performed in front of a local audience.
Artistic and creative personnel
This festival depends heavily on the combined choreographic skills and experience of all participating tutors/mentors who lead participants in daily classes and the site-specific choreographic development project. An experienced festival facilitator oversees the entire festival and artistic directors facilitate the creation of a site-specific dance work.
- 2014–Artistic director and lead choreographer: Adam Wheeler. Composer: Alexander Waite Mitchell. Choreographic workshop leaders: Kristina Chan, Katrina Lazaroff, Larissa McGowan, Kialea Nadine-Williams, Frankie Snowdon, Sani Townson
- 2012–Artistic director: Rowan Marchingo. Choreographers: Philip Channels, Vicki Van Hout, Kay Armstrong, Lee Pemberton, Ingrid Kleinig.
- 2009: Artistic director: Claudia Alessi; choreographic and production team: Brooke Leeder, Sete Tele, Jacob Lehrer, Justina Truscott, Sophie Yesberg, Robert Griffin, Shannon Bott, Alexander Harrison, Marko Panzic, Adam Wheeler, Daniel Daw. Production manager: Andrew Chambers. Musician/composer: Kingsley Reeve.
- 2006–Facilitator: Bec Reid (co-artistic director of Stompin Youth Dance Company). Artistic director for site-specific dance work: Mahony Maia Kiely. Associate facilitators/directors: David McMicken, Tim Newth (Tracks Dance Company) Composers: Tim Humphrey and Madeleine Flynn
- 2004–Facilitator: Andrew Morrish. Choreographic advisers: Tim Newth and David McMicken (Tracks Dance Company). Choreographic mentors: Gerard Veltre, Morganics, Michael Hennessy, Jeanette Fabila, Darren Green, Bernie Bernard, Mariaa Randall, Bec Reid, Ruth Osborne and Kylie Ball. Cultural advisor: Fay Ball