This year dance gave us much celebrating—what a wonderful way to spend a year! We honoured the discipline and outstanding contributions of our professional dance artists. We danced to make us happier and healthier. We saw dance used for rehabilitation. We made dance that celebrated all bodies. We watched dance that challenged our ideas about what dance should be. We were excited by new choreographic talent. We were inspired by the latest Australian dance thinking on show at the 2014 World Dance Alliance Global Summit. We celebrated big birthdays and said goodbye to old friends.
And what better way to wrap up our year in dance than to recall some of the big 2014 moments in dance.
Celebrating dance as a valuable part of our lives
I have, for dance, not only the pride of a dancer and choreographer, but profound gratitude. Dance gave me my lucky break. It has become my ethics by virtue of its discipline and provided the means through which I discover the world daily.
From Mourad Merzouki's 2014 International Dance Day message
International Dance Day
On 29 April the international dance community celebrated International Dance Day—a celebration of our art form's ability to cross all political, cultural and ethnic barriers and bring people together with a common language—dance. Watch Mourad Merzouki's inspirational 2014 International Dance Day Message.
Australian Dance Week
During Australian Dance Week (3–11 May 2014), we celebrated and promoted dance in all its forms across the nation.
Big Dance 2014
This year, thanks to Ausdance NSW, Australia joined in on Big Dance, the week-long UK celebration of dance and dancing, 5–13 July. Sydney Dance Company's artistic director Rafael Bonachela choreographed the event's finale—The Big Commonwealth Dance: Beats for Peace—a dance routine performed at the same time in Sydney, London and Glasgow by dancers of all abilities dancing together through large-screen satellite link-ups at each location.
World Ballet Day
Did you celebrate World Ballet Day on 1 October 2014? During a 24-hour live stream, we were treated to a behind-the-scenes view of five world-class companies including the Australian Ballet. Relive the highlights here.
Supporting and promoting the work of Australian dance artists
Australian Performing Arts Market (APAM)
To support Australian dance artists who were profiling their work at the Australian Performing Arts Market (APAM), we shared a booth with Ausdance Queensland where we promoted the work of Australian dance companies. While there, we hosted Talking dance—meet the makers—a networking event for the dance makers participating in APAM—where we showcased the latest work of Australian dance companies.
Following an initial call-out on Friday 25 April for performers to be part of a new Kylie Minogue video clip, concerns were raised about payment for participating dancers. The paythedancers hashtag appeared on Twitter and we reported the #paythedancers issues and continue to provide updates. On the 30 April Media Entertainment Arts Alliance (Equity) got agreement from producers of the Kylie Minogue clip and Logies performance to pay all dancers the full and correct wages. Award payments were offered to performers under the Broadcast and Recorded Entertainment Award.
Dance Chat spoke with dancers about their Kylie Minogue film clip experience and #paythedancers—summarising the issues in the following video.
2014 World Dance Alliance Global Summit
The latest Australian dance thinking was on show at the 2014 World Dance Alliance Global Summit, with over 25 of our Australian dance researchers presenting papers. Our CEO Roslyn Dundas attended the summit along with Ausdance Queensland’s Executive Director Ann McLean who presented a paper titled Managing the arts in times of change. In October 2015, Ausdance will again publish the conference proceedings.
SafeDance®, health and wellbeing
This year we noticed the increasing use of dance to promote health, wellbeing and social change and we were excited to see so many of our Australian dance companies, dance artists, researchers and organisations contributing their creativity and sharing their resources while also making some beautiful work. We published articles about these works and organisations in our September newsletter that focused on dance, health and wellbeing.
SafeDance® resources: improving the health and safety of all dancers, young and old
To improve the information available to support the sector, our CEO attended the 24th Annual Meeting of the International Association of Dance Medicine and Science in Switzerland. She reported on recent research and its application to the training and treatment of dancers. Improving the health and safety of dancers is a core aim of Ausdance and connecting with leading physios and bio-mechanic scientists allows our members access to up to date information and support to develop their practice.
Supporting positive dance experiences within a dance-training environment
For almost thirty years Ausdance has worked with dance teaching societies, organisations and teachers looking for the best approach to support the dance industry and its students. Ausdance continues to compile and distribute information and guidelines about dance training, focusing particularly on issues of quality and safety. The Australian Guidelines for Teaching Dance suggests minimum standards for dance teaching and ways teachers can maintain or upgrade their teaching skills. You can also access the code of ethics for dance teachers and for parents, information about child safe dance practice and choosing a dance studio for your child.
More affordable dance insurance
We worked with Aon to better support your insurance needs and to secure a more affordable dance insurance package. We published tips and suggestions to keep your dance business protected and brought you insurance discounts while still maintaining a high-quality product. And from 1 January 2015, Aon will lower their public liability insurance premiums by 33%—making it more affordable to protect your business in 2015.
Dance part of every young person’s education
Publication of The Australian Curriculum: The Arts
In February, the publication of The Australian Curriculum: The Arts 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 (NAAE).
At the same time, the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) linked The Australian Curriculum: The Arts to 2013 research on The role of arts participation in students’ academic and nonacademic outcomes (a research partnership between the University of Sydney and the Australia Council for the Arts)—producing this very popular video that was widely shared on social media.
In March Ausdance prepared a submission to the review of the Australian Curriculum.
In May the World Alliance for Arts Education celebrated Arts Education Week and we shared their advocacy kit that's designed to help raise awareness of the contributions of the arts to the lives of individuals and groups across the globe.
In October, the National Advocates for Arts Education (NAAE) responded to the review of the Australian Curriculum, which they discussed with members of parliament and departmental officials when they met in Canberra on the 28 and 29 October. They detailed their response to the review in November with Why the arts curriculum review recommendations should be rejected!, which provided a well-researched analysis on the role of dance in education and the problems with the review.
Australian Youth Dance Festival (AYDF)
A much anticipated event on the youth dance calendar, the 2014 AYDF was presented by Ausdance SA and held in Renmark on the border of South Australia and Victoria from 10–16 April. The AYDF's unique structure allows young people to engage in creative exchange in a supportive, non-competitive environment that encourages participation and learning.Young people from a diverse range of backgrounds came together to engage in a creative experience with professionals and their peers. Participants included members of the Quantum Leap Youth Ensemble, Australian Dance Theatre youth ensemble, YellowWheel, Restless Dance Theatre, Nunga Rhythms of Riverland Youth Theatre, DanceDown and Sprung Integrated Dance.
Commonwealth Youth Dance Festival
In July two Australian groups took part in the first Commonwealth Youth Dance Festival in Glasgow—QL2 Dance Inc (Canberra, Australia) and Wagana Aboriginal Dancers—joining 36 youth dance groups from across the Commonwealth. You can catch some of the action from the festival on this great video.
Tertiary dance courses
Our tertiary dance courses are some of the world's best, and 2014 saw some exciting developments. We were most excited to see that WAAPA got a new motion capture facility that will be used to prevent injuries to dancers as well as a teaching and performance tool for its elite dancers. Queensland University of Technology launched the Susan Caulfield-Leclercq Dance Programs collection. For anyone who attended QUT, this collection will get you recollecting. Download any one of the programs and you’re sure to find some well-known names.
A feast of new choreographic talent
Keir Choreographic Award
In July, the inaugural Keir Choreographic Award commissioned eight artists to develop short contemporary works—Sarah Aiken (Vic), James Batchelor (Vic), Tim Darbyshire (Vic), Matthew Day (Vic), Atlanta Eke (Vic), Shaun Gladwell (NSW), Jane McKernan (NSW), and Brooke Stamp (Vic)—with Melbourne-based artist Atlanta Eke awarded the $30,000 first prize.
In November, Sydney Dance Company’s second edition of New Breed (#SDCNewBreed) saw Cass Mortimer Eipper, Charmene Yap, Juliette Barton, Lee Serle and Gabrielle Nankivell present their work.
In June The Australian Ballet’s Bodytorque program, now in its 10th year, chose five choreographers—Alice Topp, Richard House, Joshua Consandine, Tim Harbour, and Richard Cilli—to create their own ballet works with The Australian Ballet’s dancers.
Professional recognition for members of our dance community
In January six members of our dance community were recognised in the Australia Day Honours: David McMicken AM, Tim Newth AM, Sue Street AO, David Throsby AO, Lucinda Dunn OAM and Rhonda Burchmore OAM. And in June Cheryl Stock received an AM for her significant service to the performing arts as a choreographer, educator and administrator.
Australian Dance Awards
In November the annual Australian Dance Awards honoured 12 outstanding achievements in Australian professional dance: Gailene Stock AM CBE—Hall of Fame, Leigh Warren—Lifetime Achievement Award, Annie Greig—Services to Dance, Janet Karin OAM—Services to Dance Education, Buzz Dance Theatre for Look the Other Way—Outstanding Achievement in Youth or Community Dance, Stephanie Lake for Aorta by Chunky Move—Outstanding Achievement in Choreography, The Australian Ballet for Cinderella—Outstanding Performance by a Company, Dalisa Pigram for Gudirr Gudirr—Outstanding Achievement in Independent Dance, Leanne Stojmenov for Cinderella by The Australian Ballet—Outstanding Performance by a Female Dancer, James Vu Anh Pham for Aorta by Chunky Move—Outstanding Performance by a Male Dancer,
Red Hot Rhythm for Rhythm Junkies—Outstanding Achievement in Commercial Dance or Musical Theatre, Sue Healey for On View—Outstanding Achievement in Dance on Film/New Media.
- The West Australian Dance Awards were also presented in November. And in December, Ausdance Victoria celebrated with their own Victorian Dance Awards.
- On 28 April, Melbourne's Green Room Awards celebrated numerous dance artists and their artistic collaborators.
- On 18 August the winners of the Helpmann Awards dance and physical theatre category were The Australian Ballet, Stephanie Lake, Charmene Yap, James Vu Anh Pham, and Branch Nebula.
- Associate Professor Gene Moyle received the 2014 Australian Psychological Society (APS) College of Sport & Exercise Psychologists (CoSEP) Award of Distinction.
- In September Vicki Van Hout was awarded the 2014 NSW Dance Fellowship.
- In November Gabrielle Nankivell received the first Keith Bain Choreographic Travel Fellowship.
- Tim Darbyshire was also awarded the Australia Council’s Cite residency for 2015.
- In December the 2014 Australia Council Fellowship for dance was awarded to Victorian dance artist Yumi Umiumare.
- Bodies of Thought: 12 Australian Choreographers features a generation of award-winning Australian choreographers with international reputations and legacies of influence.
- Dancehouse Diary website: The Dancehouse Diary is a dance publication based on discourse, dialogue and connection with other art forms and wider societal issues and it's now fully online in gorgeous new Dancehouse Diary website.
- Dame Maggie Scott: A Life in Dance Michelle Potter’s new book was published by Text Publishing in October.
- World Dance Alliance (WDA): A prolific publisher of dance books, journals and newsletters. You can catch up WDA publications in the article Ausdance member? You’re also a member of World Dance Alliance Asia Pacific
Big changes & birthday celebrations for our Australian dance companies and organisations
2014 saw many changes for Australia's dance companies, with the resignation of some long-term artistic directors. We were sad to see them go but excited by the possibilities of what they may create in the future. We also welcomed some new artistic leaders and look forward to seeing their work in 2015. Big birthday celebrations were also a feature for many companies including the birth of a new contemporary dance company in WA.
On the 18 August the the Australia Council for the Arts announced the most significant change to its grants model in the organisation's 40 year history—we wish all our member companies and partners good luck as you work on your six-year strategic plans. But November saw some good news as the Australia Council announced their $1.1m investment in innovative dance.
- Blackdance appointed Merindah Donnelly as their new executive producer, and with the BlakDance board, 2015 is shaping up to be an exciting year for Australia’s national peak body for contemporary Indigenous dance.
- In April Daniel Jaber was appointed resident choreographer of Leigh Warren Dance and will take over as artistic director in 2015.
- In September Dancenorth announced the resignation of Artistic Director Raewyn Hill, and their new company structure. We were updated in December with the announcement of New artistic leadership for Dancenorth: former Dancenorth and Australian Dance Theatre dancer Kyle Page was appointed the company’s first artistic executive and he will be supported by Artistic Advisors, Prof Cheryl Stock AM and Bradley Chatfield.
- Tasdance Artistic Director Annie Greig will be leaving the company in 2015.
- Force Majeure Artistic Director and CEO Kate Champion announced her resignation from the company she founded in 2002. After 12 years at the helm, her final work with the company will be Nothing to Lose. In December Force Majeure announced the appointment of Danielle Micich as the incoming Artistic Director/CEO.
- In WA, Buzz Dance Theatre celebrated 30 years in October and STEPS Youth Dance celebrated its 25th anniversary. In August the Boards of STEPS Youth Dance and Buzz Dance Theatre announced plans to create a new West Australian contemporary dance company—The Contemporary dance company of WA, and in September Raewyn Hill was appointed its Artistic Director.
- Sydney Dance Company celebrated their 45 years in big way with three world premiere seasons, an extensive touring program, commissioning eight new works, a new Sydney Dance Company Heritage Collection to digitise the works of Graeme Murphy and the production of Big Dance Australia along with choreography for The Big Commonwealth Dance: Beats for Peace.
- Bangarra Dance Theatre celebrated 25 years.
- Lisa Pavane was named the new director of The Australian Ballet School from 2015.
We said a sad farewell to two of our dance friends, and we were reminded of their contributions to Australian dance.
Gailene Stock AM CBE (1946—2014) Director of the Royal Ballet School since 1999 and former Director of The Australian Ballet School, passed away following a battle with cancer. At the time of her death in April this year, David McAllister, the Australian Ballet’s artistic director, said:
Gailene Stock was a woman of great importance to the world of ballet. Her drive and passion was the inspiration for a career that touched thousands and her eye for talent and intelligence made her one of our most significant ballet exports to the world.
In September 2014, Gailene was inducted into the Australian Dance Awards Hall of Fame.
Harry Haythorne MBE (1926–2014)—dancer, ballet master and guest artist with companies around the world. He was a lecturer at the Victorian College of the Arts, artistic director of the Queensland Ballet and the Royal New Zealand Ballet. Harry was awarded the 2001 Australian Dance Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Dancer for his performance in Sydney Dance Company’s Tivoli.
You made it to the end—congratulations!
We wish you a joyful holiday season. See you in 2015.
If we missed any big moments that you think should be here, please add your 2014 moments in the comments section below.
If you have a favourite professional dance moment in 2014, nominate at the Australian Dance Awards website.