Ausdance National’s achievements

In This Article



Ausdance foundersAusdance (Australian Association for Dance Education) founders Hanny Exiner, Warren Lett, Peter Brinson, Shirley McKechnie, Keith Bain.
  • Ausdance was founded in Melbourne as the Australian Association for Dance Education (AADE) to provide a united voice for dance, advocacy for the profession and to educate communities in, through and about dance. Founders represented a wide cross section of the dance community and included Dame Peggy van Praagh, Shirley McKechnie OAM, Dr Warren Lett, Keith Bain OAM, Dr Peter Brinson, Johanna (Hanny) Exiner and Donna Greaves.
  • Established the first Ausdance National Committee (now called the National Council) in NSW, later to move to the ACT.
  • Established Ausdance organisations in each state and territory.


  • Identified formal aims for the organisation and adopted an agreed national constitution at the International Society for Education through Art (INSEA) meeting in Adelaide.


  • Produced the first national biennial conference in Sydney ‘Dance Curriculum’ to begin mapping the pattern of dance activity in Australian schools (hosted by Ausdance NSW).
  • Produced a national seminar ‘Learning to Dance and Dancing to Learn’ which examined principles of dance teaching and learning (hosted by Ausdance ACT).
  • Collaborated with other art form associations to produce the first national summer school in Canberra as part of Ausdance ACT’s dance development program.


  • Produced ‘Creating Dance Theatre’, a four-day workshop for independent artists and teachers, in collaboration with Human Veins Dance Theatre and the One Extra Company (hosted by Ausdance ACT).
  • Produced the second national biennial conference in Sydney, ‘Development Through Dance’ (hosted by Ausdance NSW).


  • Relocated the National Council to Canberra under the auspices of Ausdance ACT.
  • Produced the first ‘Dance in the Community’ conference, which focused on dance therapy, disability and the aged.


  • Established the first national dance database in Canberra to map the extent of the Australian dance community, facilitate the exchange of information and provide networking opportunities for the profession.
  • Produced the second ‘Dance in the Community’ conference to build on previous activities and recommendations.
  • Held the first International Dance Day celebrations in Martin Place, Sydney, facilitated by Ausdance NSW and later to become Australian Dance Week.


  • Collaborated with dance companies to lobby the Federal Government’s Task Force on Education and the Arts.
  • Succeeded in having dance included in the Task Force’s terms of reference.


  • Provided a national response to the Task Force on Education and the Arts.
  • Arts Victoria granted project funding to Ausdance Victoria, and the committee appointed the first project officer.
  • Collaborated with the Australian Council for Health, Physical Education and Recreation (ACHPER) to produce ‘The Development of Dance’ conference in Sydney.
  • Conferred Founding Life Memberships on all Ausdance founders at the ACHPER/Ausdance conference.
  • Facilitated a preliminary meeting of tertiary dance course leaders in Melbourne.


  • Annual funding granted by the Australia Council to establish the new national office in Canberra; two national coordinators appointed (Julie Dyson and Hilary Trotter).
  • National coordinators commenced a national tour to meet with voluntary committees in each state and territory and to establish working relationships with other stakeholders such as funding bodies, arts councils, education departments, etc.
  • Formed the National Council of Tertiary Dance Directors (NCTDD) in Adelaide.
  • Responded to the Botsman Review into Tertiary Arts Education and Training, outlining the NCTDD’s philosophy of working as ‘a network of collaborating institutions’ to provide contemporary dance training.
  • Arts Victoria granted full-time funding to Ausdance Victoria and Victoria's first executive officer, Mark Gordon, is appointed.
  • Published first Ausdance national newsletter, National Dance Action, which was distributed to all states and territories monthly.


  • Collaborated with Ausdance Victoria to present the National Biennial Conference in Melbourne.
  • Collaborated with Janet Karin to present the first draft of the Code of Ethics for Dance Teachers at the Biennial Conference.
  • Facilitated first full meeting of the National Council of Tertiary Dance Directors; Shirley McKechnie elected Chair.
  • Convened the national conference ‘Focus on Folk Dance’ in Sydney with the Margaret Walker Folk Dance Centre, which identified teaching standards and cultural context as major issues.
  • NSW Ministry for the Arts granted funding to Ausdance NSW; two part-time executive officers appointed.
  • Collaborated with Keith Bain and the International Theatre Institute to produce the first Dancers’ Picnic in Sydney (later to become the Australian Dance Awards)
  • Arts WA granted funding to Ausdance WA; the first executive officer appointed.
  • Coordinated a national tour by visiting Chinese choreographers in association with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the One Extra Company and Ausdance Victoria.
  • Convened a series of state/territory roundtables for studio teachers to consider the Code of Ethics for Dance Teachers and other issues of registration.
  • ArtsACT granted funding to Ausdance ACT; the first executive officer appointed.
  • Produced the first edition of Further Studies in Dance – a guide for Australian students in collaboration with the NCTDD, to promote tertiary dance options and courses offered.



  • Negotiated and introduced a national insurance scheme for dance teachers, in response to requests from the industry for combined professional indemnity/professional liability insurance, tailored to their needs.
  • Convened the first joint meeting between artistic and tertiary dance directors in Melbourne, to facilitate dialogue about the education and training of professional dancers.
  • Contributed to the Small Companies’ Meeting in Melbourne with information about Ausdance programs and projects.
  • Facilitated ‘A Resource-full Weekend in Folk Dance’ with the Margaret Walker Folk Dance Centre in response to recommendations from the ‘Focus on Folk Dance’ conference in


  • Produced the bibliography Dance Education in Australian Schools, based on Ausdance National’s library holdings.
  • Collaborated with the Twyla Tharp Company to produce a national series of workshops for pre-professional dance students.
  • ArtsSA granted funding to Ausdance SA; the first executive officer appointed.
  • Collaborated with Actors Equity and the Australia Council to commence research into dancers’ career transition.
  • Assisted a national workshop tour in partnership with Ausdance Victoria by renowned pianist Emma Lippa, of the Bolshoi Ballet.


  • Published the Dancers' Transition Report, the first analysis of career transition issues facing Australian professional dancers.
  • Received funding from CREATE Australia to research the incidence of dancers’ injuries, and their prevention and management by dancers, choreographers, companies and educators.
  • Produced an analysis of the injury incidence data in collaboration with the University of WA.
  • Introduced the term ‘Safe Dance’ to provide a positive description of this information.
  • Commissioned the Safe Dance report based on dancers’ injury survey results.
  • In association with peer art form organisations, co-formed the National Affiliation of Arts Educators (NAAE) to promote the cause of arts education in Australian schools.
  • Commissioned the first national dance education position paper, Dance Education in Australian Schools funded by the National Arts in Australian Schools (NAAS) project.
  • Collaborated with Ausdance SA to produce the National Biennial Conference ‘Transitions’, focusing on issues identified in the Dancers Transition Report.
  • Convened the second joint meeting between artistic and tertiary dance directors in Sydney to act on recommendations from the 1987 meeting.
  • Facilitated the production of New Music New Dance, to promote contemporary music to dance teachers.


  • Published dancers’ injury survey results and recommendations in Safe Dance I, launched by the Federal Minister for the Arts.
  • Coordinated a national tour by Tony Geeves to publicise the Safe Dance report and to educate the sector about its findings.
  • Ausdance represented Australian dance at the World Dance Alliance (WDA) conference in Hong Kong, assisted by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
  • Assisted the Margaret Walker Folk Dance Centre to relocate to Canberra, and received Australia Council funding to catalogue the archives of the centre for deposit at the National Library of Australia (Margaret Walker Dance Archive).


  • Collaborated with Ausdance WA to produce the national biennial conference ‘Dance – Australian Made’ in Perth, which considered the creation and presentation of Australian dance.
  • Presented the first Dame Peggy van Praagh Memorial Address, Australians making dances: the spatial imperative, written and delivered by Shirley McKechnie OAM at the conference.
  • Participated in the national Dance Summit held by the Australia Council in Canberra; Ausdance endorsed by the profession as the national peak industry body for dance.
  • Produced the first edition of the national quarterly magazine for AADE members—Dance Forum.
  • ArtsNT granted funding for Ausdance NT; the first executive officer appointed.


  • AADE became the Australian Dance Council—Ausdance Inc.
  • Arts Queensland granted funding for Ausdance Qld; the first executive officer appointed.
  • Assisted the first tertiary dance festival, Options (hosted by the Dance Department of the University of Adelaide)
  • Published Opening the Door to Dance, the folk dance teaching method of Margaret Walker.


  • Produced the final national biennial conference in Melbourne ‘The Politics of Dance – Policy, Process and Practice’, which examined the place of political advocacy in dance, including the development of professional Indigenous dance. Presented the second Dame Peggy van Praagh Memorial Address, The politics of dance—policy, process and practice, written and delivered by Peter Brinson at the conference.
  • Co-produced the first Green Mill dance festival ‘The Choreographic Process’, which reflected the recommendation from the 1991 Dance Summit to provide a forum for choreographic practice and dialogue.
  • Received increased funding from the Australia Council in recognition of Ausdance’s growing national status and responsibilities.


  • Published the first edition of Brolga—an Australian journal about dance (editor Michelle Potter), and the Ausdance Guide to Australian Dance Companies (author Clare Dyson), a resource for dance students.
  • Collaborated with the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts to produce the second tertiary dance festival, Options.
  • Edited and published the second Green Mill dance festival papers, Dance and Narrative.
  • Mounted a national advocacy campaign on behalf of small companies that had lost significant Australia Council funding.
  • Represented Australian dance at the World Dance Alliance conference in Beijing, with a paper presented by Ausdance National Executive Officer Julie Dyson.


  • Presented the case for dance at a Senate inquiry into arts education.
  • Produced the first Ausdance policy for Indigenous dance in collaboration with the National Aboriginal Dance Council of Australia.
  • Published the third Green Mill Dance Festival papers, Is Technology the Future for Dance?
  • Presented the third Dame Peggy van Praagh Memorial Address: A nation knowing its past, delivered by Keith Bain OAM, at the Green Mill Dance Festival.
  • Held a national forum of peak dance teaching organisations to discuss guidelines for dance teachers, (in collaboration with Ausdance ACT); formed a Teacher Registration Steering Committee to assist the consultation process.
  • Developed a case for the establishment of an Australian Dance Collection across two national collecting institutions, the National Film and Sound Archive (NFSA) and the National Library of Australia (NLA); facilitated a meeting of the two institutions to discuss a joint collecting policy for dance; reached agreement on preparing a partnership application to the Australia Council.


  • Launched the first Ausdance website in collaboration with the Australian National University.
  • Received Australia Council partnership funding to establish an Australian Dance Collection, known as the Keep Dancing! Project, housed at the National Film and Sound Archive.
  • Implemented an educational support program for ‘Made to Move—Dance Across Australia’, a national dance touring initiative, in partnership with Playing Australia, the Adelaide Festival Centre Trust and venue presenters.
  • Presented the fourth Dame Peggy van Praagh Memorial Address: Great artistic mentors, delivered by Meryl Tankard at the Green Mill Dance Festival ‘New Dance From Old Cultures’.
  • Coordinated the first meeting of the World Dance Alliance—Asia Pacific to be held in Melbourne, at the Green Mill dance festival.
  • Appointed a national youth dance panel to plan the first Australian Youth Dance Festival.
  • Assisted the development of the first choreographic centre in Canberra.
  • Produced the first biannual magazine Asia-Pacific Channels on behalf of the World Dance Alliance—Asia Pacific.



  • Produced the first Australian Youth Dance Festival (AYDF) in Darwin, in collaboration with Ausdance NT.
  • Coordinated a national teaching and performance tour by UK company, Ludus, including a week-long residency at the AYDF.
  • Appointed the first curator of dance (Michelle Potter) for Keep Dancing! in partnership with the National Film and Sound Archive.
  • Published the Australian Guidelines for Dance Teachers in collaboration with Arts Training ACT and peak dance teaching organisations.
  • Published Safe Dance II in collaboration with Tony Geeves, making new recommendations for adolescent dance training based on findings from Safe Dance I.
  • Presented an ‘Ausdance Advocacy Day’ at the Green Mill Dance Festival, to inform the dance community of developments in funding policies and to share strategies for action.
  • Formed the advocacy body Artspeak in collaboration with peer arts service organisations.
  • Presented the fifth Dame Peggy van Praagh Memorial Address: Heritage and heresy, written and delivered by Ross Stretton at the final Green Mill Dance Festival, ‘Heritage and Heresy’.

Ausdance NSW presented the inaugural Australian Dance Awards at the State Theatre in Sydney.


  • Ausdance celebrates its 21st birthday in Canberra. Collated and published a commemorative edition of Dance Forum, tracing the history of the organisation.
  • Published Australian Standards for Dance Teachers, The Interim National Competency Standards, a handbook for teacher education bodies and course developers, in collaboration with Arts Training ACT.
  • Administered the first Australia Council Emerging Choreographer’s grants and made awards to eight choreographers.


  • Negotiated with the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) to have dance included in the national Athlete Career & Education scheme in a ‘user pay’ agreement.
  • Administered the second round of Emerging Choreographers grants, awarded to five artists.
  • Produced the second Australian Youth Dance Festival in Townsville, in partnership with Dance North and Ausdance Qld.
  • Published Safe Dance III in collaboration with Debra Crookshanks, which revisited the 1990 survey and measured progress in injury prevention and management since publication of the first report in 1990.
  • Assisted the Australian Bureau of Statistics to identify new categories for dance for the new Census.
  • Established a partnership with the National Aboriginal Dance Council of Australia with assistance from the Australia Council.
  • Collaborated with the Unspoken Knowledges research team in a three-year partnership between the University of Melbourne, Ausdance and the Australian Choreographic Centre, funded by the Australian Research Council.
  • Published the Movement and Performance (MAP) papers in collaboration with the symposium presenter, Ausdance Victoria.
  • Conducted research to test the take-up of the Competency Standards by teaching organisations.


  • Produced the ‘Critic as Advocate’ symposium at the Sydney Opera House; published papers in Dance Forum.
  • Presented the sixth Dame Peggy van Praagh Memorial Address: Vision, perseverance and courage, delivered by Marilyn Rowe OBE at the ‘Critic as Advocate’ forum.
  • Collaborated with the AIS to form the Elite Performers Lifeskills Advisers Association (EPLAA), which eventually led to SCOPE (Securing Career Opportunities and Professional Employment) for Artists, a partnership with the Australian Sports Commission and the Australia Council for the Arts.
  • Collaborated with Ausdance NSW to present and publish papers from ‘Moving On 2000’, the first national Community Dance Forum.

Registered Training Organisation (RTO) status awarded to Ausdance Victoria, allowing nationally accredited courses to be delivered to the Australian dance community.


  • Co-ordinated a series of Dance Summits across Australia to identify common issues for future policy development.
  • Published Australian Dance Summits 2001, a summary of policy recommendations.
  • Produced the third Australian Youth Dance Festival in Armidale NSW with participation by the local Indigenous community.
  • Presented ‘Creating Performance’, a cross-disciplinary professional development workshop for independent artists.
  • Coordinated the first ‘Dance Education in Australian Schools’ (DEAS) roundtable at the AYDF in Armidale, with state/territory education departments, teachers and Ausdance network staff.
  • Participated in planning the new NLA website, ‘Australia Dancing’ to provide an electronic resource for the Australian dance collection.


  • In partnership with Ausdance, the NLA launched ‘Australia Dancing’ – the Australian Dance Collection website.
  • Responded to the Cultural Ministers’ Council report into the Small-Medium Performing Arts Sector, and lobbied the Federal Government in a series of meetings.
  • Collaborated with the Canberra Theatre Centre and the Australian Choreographic Centre to investigate regional dance touring on behalf of the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts; produced the ‘Greater Exposure’ report in collaboration with the partners.


  • National Library of Australia appointed its first dance curator (Michelle Potter) with support from Ausdance; formation of an external steering committee to advise on the ‘Australia Dancing’ project.
  • Contracted a dance educator to write endorsed national standards based on the Australian Standards for Dance Teachers, The Interim National Competency Standards.
  • Assisted Professor David Throsby to gather data about career transition for two international publications.
  • Presented the seventh Dame Peggy van Praagh Memorial Address: The conflict of making choices, written and delivered by  Li Cunxin at the Victorian College of the Arts.
  • Ausdance National Director Julie Dyson elected Secretary of the World Dance Alliance—Asia Pacific.


  • Presented the fourth Australian Youth Dance Festival in Armidale, NSW.
  • Coordinated a major advocacy campaign in response to the Australia Council Dance Board’s report Resourcing Dance – an analysis of the subsidised Australian dance sector.
  • Ausdance National Director Julie Dyson elected to the board of the Council for Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences (CHASS)
  • Ausdance represented by Julie Dyson at the International Organisation for the Transition of Professional Dancers conference in Monaco.
  • Collaborated with Aon Risk Services to introduce a national call centre for the Ausdance Insurance Scheme.


  • Produced the ‘Creating Pathways’ Indigenous dance forum at the National Museum of Australia, in partnership with the Australia Council.
  • Established a partnership with the AIS to include 12 professional dancers in its Athlete Career and Education (ACE) program for the first time.
  • Published the Throsby/Hollister dancers’ transition research in two volumes: Dance in Australia – a profile and Moving On – career transition of professional dancers in Australia.
  • Designed the dance education model ‘Schooldance’, and received funding from the Australia Council for its research and development.
  • Assisted with the presentation of the second Dance Education in Australian Schools (DEAS) roundtable, hosted by Ausdance Victoria.
  • Provided support and advice for the first conference of Australian youth dance company directors, held at the Sydney Opera House.


  • Collaborated with the Australia Council to establish the ‘Treading the Pathways’ project, a follow-up to ‘Creating Pathways’.
  • Appointed the first National Indigenous Dance Co-ordinator.
  • Co-ordinated Australia-wide signing of petitions to both Houses of Parliament for new dance funding in the 2007 Federal Budget.
  • Presented petitions to the Senate and the House of Representatives via sitting members of parliament.
  • 10th Australian Dance Awards nominations process managed by Ausdance National.
  • Provided support, and the AYDF model, to Ausdance Victoria to present the fifth Australian Youth Dance Festival in Horsham, Victoria.
  • Produced and published Shifting Sands – Dance in Asia and the Pacific on behalf of the World Dance Alliance Asia-Pacific.
  • Partnered with the Australian Sports Commission and the Australia Council to establish SCOPE (Securing Career Opportunities and Professional Employment), a funded career development program for professional dancers.
  • Developed the dance component of the Active After Schools Communities program administered by the Australian Sports Commission.



  • Celebrated the founding of Ausdance and its achievements since 1977.
  • Convened the first joint meeting in 18 years between artistic and tertiary dance directors, in collaboration with the Australia Council and The Australian Ballet.
  • Ausdance Victoria secured three-year funding from the Joan & Peter Clemenger Trust for presentation Australian Dance Awards in Melbourne from 2008-1010.
  • Co-hosted the first International Association for Dance Medicine & Science (IADMS) conference in Australia, in partnership with The Australian Ballet School and the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra.
  • Began consultations across Australia to gather content for the dance action plan Dance Plan 2012, in partnership with the Australia Council.
  • Developed new injury protection insurance products for the dance profession, in collaboration with Aon Risk Services.


  • Coordinated the production of the ‘Welcome to Country’ ceremony at the opening of the 42nd Parliament in Canberra on 12 February, directed by Marilyn Miller, Treading the Pathways National Indigenous Dance Coordinator.
  • Assisted with the presentation of the World Dance Alliance Global Assembly in Brisbane, hosted by Ausdance Queensland and the Queensland University of Technology.
  • Presented the eighth Dame Peggy van Praagh Memorial Address: Artists—the new elite, by Professor Susan Street at the WDA Global Assembly.
  • Re-formed and renamed the National Affiliation of Arts Educators to the National Advocates for Arts Education and recruited new association members.
  • Launched a national campaign by the NAAE to have the arts included in the National Curriculum.
  • Managed the nominations process 2008 Australian Dance Awards held in Melbourne at the State Theatre, presented by Ausdance Victoria.
  • Launched Dance Plan 2012 at the World Dance Alliance Global Assembly, in partnership with the Australia Council.
  • Presented Dance Plan 2012 at the Biennale de Danse de Lyon in France.


  • Published the Australian Guidelines for Teaching Dance (2ed) online.
  • Co-ordinated a national youth dance forum at the sixth Australian Youth Dance Festival in Mandurah, hosted by Ausdance WA.
  • Managed online nominations process for the Australian Dance Awards held at the State Theatre in Melbourne, hosted by Ausdance Victoria.
  • Succeeded in having the Arts included in Phase 2 of the National Curriculum.
  • Contributed to the launch of an independent SCOPE for Artists, with an extended program to include circus and physical theatre performers.
  • Assisted the development of a Schooldance component, the Ausdance Skill Set, written by Ausdance Victoria.
  • Negotiated the inclusion of Ausdance in the Australia Council’s Artists-in-Residence program.


  • Produced the Australian Dance Awards website to profile outstanding achievements in Australian professional dance.
  • Toured Madeline Ritter, Director of Tanzplan Deutschland, who visited five states and territories as an advocate for strategic development for dance. Funded by the Goethe Institute.
  • Chaired the National Project Reference Group for SkillsHub Australia to sign off on the new National Dance Qualifications Framework.
  • Produced a cultural policy submission to the Federal Government.
  • Contributed to the national forum for leaders of Australian youth dance companies coordinated by QL2 Centre for Youth Dance in Canberra and copresented their work at the Youth Dance England conference with Ruth Osborne.
  • Assisted Treading the Pathways to transition to BlakDance.





  • Awarded the first Keith Bain Choreographic Travel Fellowship to Gabrielle Nankivell.
  • Assisted Ausdance SA at the eighth Australian Youth Dance Festival n Renmark, SA. 
  • Produced issue #39 of Brolga—an Australian journal about dance—edited by Associate Professor Maggi Phillips from the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts.
  • Hosted Talking dance: meet the makers—a networking event for the dance makers participating in Australian Performing Arts Market. We produced and shared marketing material and projected a showcase of images from the latest work of Australian dance companies. 
  • Produced two editions of Asia-Pacific Channels—the newsletter of the World Dance Alliance in collaboration with Malaysia's MyDance Alliance. 
  • Celebrated the publication of The Australian Curriculum: The Arts, which represented a special moment in the history of Australian dance education, with dance officially one of five art form subjects in the national curriculum. This is the result of many years of advocacy by Ausdance through the National Advocates for Arts Education. 


  • Awarded the third Ausdance Peggy van Praagh Choreographic Fellowship to Lina Limosani
  • Presented the 2015 National Dance Forum in partnership with the Australia Council for the Arts
  • Joined other members of ArtsPeak (the confederation of national peak arts organisations) in calling for a Senate Inquiry into the 2015 Commonwealth Budget decisions on the Arts
  • Presented the 2015 Australian Dance Awards in Adelaide.
  • Published Contemporising the past: envisaging the future, the refereed proceedings* of the 2014 World Dance Alliance Global Summit.
  • Worked with our dance insurance providers—Aon—to negotiate new dance insurance cover
  • Produced issue #40 of Brolga—an Australian journal about dance—edited by Olivia Millard from the Deakin University.



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The Big 4-0!

The Big 4-0! While turning the big 40 can provoke anxiety, soul-searching and the purchase of sports cars in humans, for an organisation to reach this marker is a cause for unadulterated celebration. This year marks this milestone for Ausdance, Australia’s national body for dance advocacy, education and outreach. First established in 1977 as the Australian Association for Dance Education (AADE) in Melbourne, Ausdance’s mission was to provide a united voice for Australia’s burgeoning dance community. Over these last four decades the accomplishments of Ausdance 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 spheres.