National Dance Forum 2015

The National Dance Forum 2015 focused on the inherent concerns and realities affecting current professional practice in Australia.

Project Status

National Dance Forum 2015. An Australia Council for the Arts and Ausdance National partnership.

Forum partners Ausdance National and the Australia Council for the Arts presented the third National Dance Forum (NDF2015) from 19–21 March 2015 at Footscray Community Arts Centre, Melbourne, Victoria.

The NDF is the most significant platform for dialogue across the Australian contemporary dance sector. In 2015, dancers, makers, researchers, writers, directors, producers, advocates and educators participated in three days of discussions and dialogue about the inherent concerns and realities affecting current professional practice in Australia. We framed this dialogue by three distinct lines of focus:

  • Transforming the form: changing structures and their effects
  • The subtleties and nuances of innovation. 
  • Discourse: How is dance written about, spoken about and communicated?

Transforming the form: changing structures and their effects

If we consider the nature of contemporary dance as ephemeral, adaptable and experimental, future models of Australian practice must inhabit this, powerfully and sustainably. As individuals, as an industry, do we remain flexible enough to inhabit rates of change? With this strand of focus, NDF15 endeavoured to cover

  • Current trends in making and presenting
  • Changing relationships between the company model and independent practice
  • Shifting modes of resourcing and presenting. 
  • Who is a part of the conversation? Who are we engaging with? Who is our audience?

The subtleties and nuances of innovation

Innovation reflects our response to the changing world and our ability (or search) to find our place within. It also reflects the changing/unchanging attitudes and our constant human will to connect and question who we are.

This line of focus proposed a series of question that included

  • Why do we continually search for the new, the different and who drives that agenda?
  • As we face the technology tsunami are we looking for the human or the authentic? Is this the essence or, is this irrelevant in terms of current trends?
  • With a growing emphasis in the Arts of equating numbers with success, what does this mean for dance?
  • With an increasing interest in work considered multi-artform, could dance, in its purest sense, be at risk?
  • How do we create dance that transcends cultural differences while still honoring tradition?
  • How do we best acknowledge the tradition of form in order to create the future?

Discourse: How is dance written about, spoken about and communicated?

With a deliberate focus on practice, NDF15 endeavoured to question

  • As makers, how do we understand what we are doing as we’re doing it?
  • How does the discourse feed itself back into the work and how can this generate choreographic intelligence?
  • Where does this discourse occur and why?
  • How can we most effectively communicate our work beyond the sector?

Forum commentary

The National Dance Forum blog.

Tweets by @NatDanceForum

External

Forum documentation

Audio podcasts

Keynote #2 Jerril Rechter interviewed by Fiona Winning

Date: 20 March 2015

Contemporary dance happens here: deploying dance in regional settings

Date: 20 March 2015
Chair: Annette Carmichael.
Speakers: Jacob Boehme, Lesley Graham, Britt Guy, Julian Louis

This panel features dynamic and diverse representation from some of Australia’s leading voices within the regional arts sector. They will engage you in a debate on notions of excellence, community engagement and being objectified as ‘regional'.

The academic artist: oxymoron or creative synergy?

Date: 20 March 2015
Chair: Cheryl Stock
Speakers: Shaun McLeod, Julie-Anne Long, Jo Pollitt

There are ongoing tensions between academics who employ artistic practice as part of their skills set versus artists who enter the academy through a higher degree or taking up a university job opportunity. This panel will address both the pitfalls and opportunities when academic research interacts with creative practice. How one area supports and engages the other is a multifaceted and complex endeavour.

Dance Massive artists

Date: 20 March 2015
Chair: Emily Sexton
Speakers: Martin del Amo, Anouk van Dijk, Clare Watson, Zaimon Vilmanis, Katrina Lazaroff

A panel of diverse artists all presenting a varied spectrum of completed and in-progress works as part of Dance Massive 2015. This discussion will invite conversation regarding current trends in Australian choreographic practice and the significance of presenting work within a festival context.

From black box to white box

Date: 20 March 2015
Chair: Hannah Mathews
Speakers: Phillip Adams, Atlanta Eke, Alison Currie, Latai Taumoepeau

This panel seeks to map out the historical lineage and contemporary concerns of creating and presenting choreographic works within gallery spaces. By reflecting on past examples and considering the current trend towards using the white cube as a context for dance, the session will address the interests and concerns of choreographers who cross dance with visual arts practice.

Dance criticism, writing and discourse

Date: 20 March 2015
Chair: Ashley Dyer
Speakers: Matthew Day, Jordan Beth Vincent, Jana Perkovic, Vicki van Hout

'The perfect dance critic does not exist.' Miguel Gutierrez.
The role of the critic is no longer merely about helping an audience discriminate between 'better' and 'worse'. This panel discussion unpacks the changing value of discourse and critical writing. It engages thoughtful artists and dance writers who ask the sometimes fraught questions: What is the role of the critic? For who or what are they writing? Can anyone be a critic? What role can writing and discourse play in influencing the development of dance practice? And how does it affect dance as a form?

Crossing borders: international collaboration

Date: 20 March 2015
Chair: Jeff Khan
Speakers: Tim Darbyshire, Thomas E. S. Kelly, Pirjetta Mulari (Dance Info Finland), Paul Selwyn Norton, Ade Suharto

This discussion explores Australia-international exchange from the perspective or artists, curators, and organisations. What are the benefits of international exchange and how can it develop artists' practices? What are some best-case examples of genuine exchange between practitioners from diverse backgrounds and perspectives? Where, how and why do artists want to be working in this context?

Integrated practice

Date: 21 March 2015
Chair: Andrew Morrish
Speakers: Michelle Ryan, Kate Sulan, Janice Florence, Philip Channells

Some of Australia’s leading dance practitioners, who work in dance and physical performance with or alongside artists with disability, discuss process, performance, access, aesthetics and disability politics.

NDF 2015 program

Speakers and facilitators' biographies (260 KB PDF).

Subscribe to our NDF 2015 mailing list (below) to keep up to date with program announcements.

Day 1: Thursday 19 March

12.30 pm – 2.00 pm          Registration
2.00 pm – 2.30 pm Welcome to Country & NDF2015 opening speeches
2.30 pm – 3.45 pm

Keynote #1: Lemi Ponifasio interviewed by Fiona Winning

3.45 pm – 4.30 pm Open Space Session #1: Introduction to Open Space with Andrew Morrish and NDF2015 co-Facilitation team
4.30 pm – 5.30 pm Forum opening and networking drinks on the lawns of Footscray Community Arts Centre overlooking the Maribyrnong River.

Day 2: Friday 20 March

8.30 am – 9.00 am Registration
9.00 am – 9.15 am Introduction to Day 2 Andrew Morrish
9.15 am – 11.00 am

Breakout session #1

The academic artist: oxymoron or creative synergy?
Chair: Cheryl Stock
Speakers: Shaun McLeod, Julie-Anne Long, Jo Pollitt
Dance Massive Artists panel
Chair: Emily Sexton
Speakers: Martin del Amo, Anouk van Dijk, Clare Watson, Zaimon Vilmanis, Katrina Lazaroff
From black box to white box
Chair: Hannah Mathews
Speakers: Phillip Adams, Atlanta Eke, Alison Currie, Latai Taumoepeau
11.00 am –11.30 am Morning tea
11.30 am – 12.30 pm

Keynote #2 Jerril Rechter interviewed by Fiona Winning

12.30 pm – 1.30 pm

Lunch
Optional lunchtime briefings: Creative Partnerships Australia funding opportunities & Australia Council for the Arts new funding model; Dance Info Finland.

1.30 pm – 3.15 pm

Breakout session #2

Contemporary dance happens here: deploying dance in regional settings
Chair: Annette Carmichael
Speakers: Jacob Boehme, Britt Guy, Lesley Graham, Julian Louis
Dance criticism, writing and discourse
Chair: Ashley Dyer
Speakers: Matthew Day, Jordan Beth Vincent, Jana Perkovic, Vicki van Hout
Crossing borders: International collaboration
Chair: Jeff Khan
Speakers: Ade Suharto, Tim Darbyshire, Thomas E Kelly, Paul Selwyn Norton, Pirjetta Mulari
3.15 pm – 3.45 pm Afternoon tea
3.45 pm – 5.15 pm Open Space #2 with Andrew Morrish and NDF2015 co-facilitation team
5.15 pm – 5.30 pm Day 2 wrap up with Andrew Morrish

Day 3: Saturday 21 March

8.30 am – 9.00 am Registration
9.00 am – 9.15 am Introduction to Day 3 with Andrew Morrish
9.15 am – 10.45 am Integrated practice
Chair: Andrew Morrish
Speakers: Michelle Ryan, Kate Sulan, Janice Florence, Philip Channells
10.45 am – 11.15 am Morning tea
11.15 am – 1.15 pm Open Space session #3 with Andrew Morrish and NDF2015 co-facilitation team
1.15 pm – 2.00 pm

Lunch
Optional lunchtime briefings: Blakdance Australia update; DANscienCE Conference.

2.00 pm – 5.00 pm Open Space session #4 with Andrew Morrish and NDF2015 co-facilitation team
5.00 pm – 5.30 pm Summary session #4 with Andrew Morrish and NDF2015 co-facilitation team
5.30 pm Closing Drinks

NDF2015 facilitator

Andrew Morrish. Read Andrew's NDF2015 provocation and invitation to the forum.

NDF2015 co-facilitation team

The NDF co-facilitation team will assist Andrew Morrish to make this forum the most rigourous yet. They are Annette Carmichael, Ashley Dyer and Fiona Winning.

NDF2015 curatorial panel

The NDF 2015 program is shaped by the collective input of the NDF curatorial panel: Matthew Day (independent artist, VIC), Julie Dyson (dance advocate and advisor, ACT), Margrete Helgeby (independent artist, WA), Raewyn Hill (Artistic Director, Contemporary Dance Company of Western Australia, WA), Catherine Jones (Executive Producer, Chunky Move, VIC) and Frances Rings (Bangarra Dance Theatre artist-in-residence, NSW); who join Roslyn Dundas (CEO, Ausdance), Carin Mistry (Director, Dance, Australia Council for the Arts) Kath Papas and Kristy Ayre (NDF 2015 co-producers).

NDF2015 program images

Photo: Leigh Turner Bottlebrush Studios. Dancers: Erynne Mulholland and Andrew Searle. Choreographer: Huang Yi. Work: ECHO. Produced by Tasdance and Dancenorth.

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Conclusion

The 2015 National Dance Forum ​sought to

  • instigate intelligent and insightful engagement between Australian dancers, makers, researchers, writers, producers, advocates and educators
  • create the most significant platform for dialogue across the Australian contemporary dance sector
  • connect Australian artists with local, national and international communities
  • recognise the responsibility to acknowledge the past while asking important questions about the future of Australian dance practice
  • an immersive, participatory experience, offering delegates a rich and valuable opportunity to inspire new ideas and refresh existing ones in an environment tailored to complement the unique qualities of the dance sector.

Related Projects

2013 National Dance Forum View this project

Exploring the unique qualities of dance as an artform and why we choose it as our mode of expression, communication or storytelling, this forum embraced views from multiple perspectives: maker, dancer, educator, audience member and the broader community, while focusing on a central question, 'Why dance?'

2011 National Dance Forum View this project

Some of Australia’s most exciting dancers, choreographers, curators, critics and collaborators met to discuss and reflect on the state of dance practice in Australia now, and to chart a course for the future.

Further Reading

Dancehouse Diary: a unique dance publication (published by Dancehouse, Melbourne) based on discourse, dialogue and connection with other art forms and wider societal issues. 'The Diary is deeply rooted in Joseph Beuys’ reflection on the artist’s power to be a social sculptor though movement, action and thought, thus inspiring us to live more creatively. It aims not only to cultivate a taste for dance, but to provoke cross-disciplinary thought and to articulate a most necessary connection of our bodies with our minds, of how we move and exist in the world and for the world.'