2017 year in review — Ausdance National

In This Article

In 2017 our annual program focused on sector sustainability, advocacy and dialogue.

Thank you to our members, partners and supporters across Australia who contributed to the success of our 2017 program.

Here are our highlights.

Ausdance membership nominates a new Ausdance National Council

Following a nationwide nominations process, a new eight-person skills-based National Council was appointed at the AGM in March 2017. Their immediate focus was on the future sustainability of the organisation without core operational funding.

Annette Carmichael

We met the new National Council and learned why they believe a national dance advocacy organisation is vital for Australian dance:

The new board held regular meetings which enabled a range of initiatives to be implemented. They quickly established board subcommittees with key board members tasked with responsibility for actively supporting and driving identified priority areas. 

This year they have led Ausdance National's key events, programs and advocacy activities including:

  • programing and delivery of the National Dance Forum
  • building relationships with key Australian Dance Awards sponsors
  • maintaining our dance insurance products with Aon.

Thanks to:

  • the interim executive leadership—Shane Colquhoun (WA), Paul Summers (Vic), Henry Laska (ACT) and Treasurer Peter Bayliss—who led the organisation from October 2016 to March 2017 and developed the 2017 Strategic Plan. 
  • Honorary Life Members Julie Dyson, AM and Sandra Macarthur-Onslow who continue to catalogue the contents of Ausdance National’s archives, now lodged at the National Library of Australia.
  • the Australia Council for the Arts for providing the funding that enabled the board to meet face-to-face on a number of occasions throughout 2017.

Exploring identities in dance—international dance education research collection

We collaborated with Dance and the Child International to publish Exploring identities in dance.

With the themes embodiment, empowerment, assessment and education, the 36 research papers, panels and project dialogues from 12 countries profile current international research about the transformational role of dance in young people’s lives. 

Thanks to editors Susan Koff, Director of the Dance Education Program in the Steinhardt School at New York University, and Charlotte Svendler Nielsen, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

National Dance Forum 2017

The fourth National Dance Forum (NDF2017) took place from 25–26 September 2017 at the Victorian College of the Arts in Melbourne, Victoria.

We brought together 100 thinkers, makers and researchers from within and outside the dance community to discuss and share knowledge on current digital practices and technological developments.

The two-day forum focused on strengthening the dance sector’s capacity within the digital domain. It engaged artists in developing and sharing skills in this environment.

The Forum's relevant and fascinating program was made possible by a curator and curatorial panel, keynote speakers, presenters and moderators who all generously donated their time and expertise.

We presented the 2017 National Dance Forum in partnership with Ausdance Victoria, and the project was assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.

National Dance Forum keynotes and sessions are available to watch online.

Australian Dance Awards 2017

The awards recognise and honour professional Australian dance artists who have made an outstanding contribution to Australian dance. With a national focus, the awards are promoting the art form, raising the profile of Australian artists and providing a focal point for the celebration of excellence.

This year the awards were presented by Ausdance Victoria, Harlequin Floors and Ausdance National on Sunday 24 September at Arts Centre Melbourne.

The shortlist, long list and award recipients

Thanks to the volunteers who assisted Ausdance National in the nominations process:

  • The selection panel who try to see all local performances and watch recordings of all nominated work to assist in the shortlisting and voting process. 
  • Selection panel chair Robina Beard OAM
  • Advisers Lee Christofis, Jeff Meiners and Julie Dyson AM

The 2017 sponsors: Arts Centre Melbourne, Harlequin Floors, Equity, Aon, Gaynor Minden and various Victorian-based supporters.

The Ausdance Victoria team members who made the event so successful.

Ausdance Peggy van Praagh Choreographic Fellowship

The Ausdance National Peggy van Praagh Choreographic Fellowship of $10,000 is awarded every two years to a mid-career choreographer, 35 years or over, with at least 10 years’ professional experience working as a choreographer.

Kristina Chan

This year we awarded the Ausdance National Peggy van Praagh Choreographic Fellowship to award-winning choreographer Kristina Chan.

This fellowship will assist me in extending my dance practice—both physically and choreographically. I will travel to Japan to participate in intensive Butoh training workshops across the country. I will also attend art festivals and performances, and engage with local artists in a hope to make connections for possible future collaborations. —Kristina Chan

Thanks to the selection panel—Claudia Alessi, David McAllister and Gene Moyle—who read a large number of high-quality applications.

We turned 40!

The Ausdance network began its life as the Australian Association for Dance Education (AADE) at a Dance Education Conference held 12–15 August 1977 in Melbourne.

By March 1978 the Australian Association for Dance Education was alive and flourishing with a national committee and a committee in every state and territory of the country, and a general membership of approximately 600.

Ausdance’s mission was to provide a united voice for Australia’s burgeoning dance community.

Over these last four decades, the accomplishments of Ausdance National have been as varied as they have been numerous but the goal has remained the same: to educate, inspire and support the dance community to reach its potential as a dynamic force within local, national and international communities.

By encouraging the best in dance education; by lobbying governments and providing dance with a real voice (and therefore funding); by supporting independents. When you consider these achievements as well as the endurance of events like the Australian Dance Awards, the Australian Youth Dance Festival, the National Dance Forum and the Safe Dance Reports, Ausdance has been really critical to the health of our sector. —Ruth Osborne in The Big 4-0!

Safe Dance Report IV: Investigating injuries in Australia’s professional dancers

A collaboration between The University of Sydney and Ausdance National, Safe Dance IV is the fourth in a series of Safe Dance® research projects started by Ausdance National almost 30 years ago.

Safe Dance Report IV: investigating injuries in Australia's professional dancers examines the Australian context and occurrence of injury in professional dancers and makes recommendations to support sustainable, healthy, and productive dancing careers. 

Safe Dance IV demographics

Through the Safe Dance IV project, we now know more about:

  • the current state of injuries in Australia’s professional dance population
  • risk and protective factors for common dance injuries
  • rehabilitation practices and health service access by dancers
  • the impact of different injuries on dancers’ overall quality of life
  • the effect of previous initiatives on dance injury prevention.

The findings will be used to assist in the tailoring and evaluation of evidence-based injury prevention initiatives with the long-term goal of safely sustaining dancers in their professional dance careers for as long as they choose.

Thanks to author and lead researcher Amy Jo Vassallo, PhD candidate at the Faculty of Health Sciences at The University of Sydney and her PhD supervisor Dr Claire Hiller.


In 2017 we continued to work with the broader arts sector to advocate for dance. 

Our new National Council—led by President Gene Moyle—developed advocacy partnerships to support dance careers and represented the sector at key arts events. 

Honorary Life Member Julie Dyson, AM, represented dance and Ausdance National through her roles with ArtsPeak—the federation of peak arts organisations,  National Advocates for Arts Education and World Dance Alliance Asia Pacific.


Advocacy partnerships

National Advocates for Arts Education (NAAE)

Dance is represented by National Advocates for Arts Education Chair Julie Dyson, AM, and Ausdance representatives Jeff Meiners and Sue Fox. Read the NAAE 2017 report.

ArtsPeak—the federation of peak arts organisations

Our membership of ArtsPeak provided national advocacy for dance. Read ArtsPeak's 2017 activities.

2017 advocacy partnerships

Ausdance National became an inaugural member of the Australian Alliance for Wellness in Entertainment(AAWE), an initiative of Entertainment Assist. 

AAWE officially launched on World Mental Health Day on 10 October, and it is a very exciting network 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. —Professor Gene Moyle

Dance insurance

Our 30-year partnership with Aon continued in 2017, and we worked to maintain the comprehensive insurance package specifically designed for the needs of the dance industry. This year Aon further reduced the price of their premiums but, importantly, broadened their public liability product.

World Dance Alliance

Through our membership of the World Dance Alliance and the World Dance Alliance Asia Pacific, we provided international career development and networking opportunities to Ausdance members.

This year several Australian researchers presented at the 2017 WDA Global Summit in St John’s, Newfoundland.

We also produced our final edition of Asia–Pacific Channels—the newsletter of the World Dance Alliance Asia Pacific and handed production to WDA Asia Pacific—Malaysia.

Next year Ausdance members will participate in the Joint Dance Congress, Panpapanpalya 2018, to be held in Adelaide from 8–13 July.