It's been described as the most significant platform for dialogue across the Australian contemporary dance sector. For two-and-a-half days, escape the isolation and immerse yourself in discussion, debate, networking, new ideas and reflection on artistic practice.
What did previous years' participants think and feel about their National Dance Forum experience?
Opportunities for developing new networks, valuing old connections, reaffirming and expanding relationships within the sector were important to participants. This was particularly relevant to independent artists and emerging artists. Some people said making contacts at this event will lead to future collaborations and partnerships.
Often we work in the isolation or within the sealed environment of our own studios. While ‘networking’ is often perceived to be dirty work, it’s the relationships we form with other artists that support us throughout our careers. This was a vital part of the NDF.
new ideas, contacts and information
hearing about what others are up to
The interactions with multi-level artists from all over the country was an experience I would never of had without the NDF.
It got me back in contact with old acquaintances.
I made contact with practitioners useful to my research
Learning from other artists
A clear need to talk about practice with other artists, choreographers and practitioners was identified. People described the importance of the exchange of information, for example, between those experienced and established practitioners with new graduates, and between different age groups. The exchange also enabled consideration of different approaches to thinking and making, and the exploration of new fields.
I learnt so much that will be of value in the future. Hearing from other artists was really valuable and often inspirational.
A large collection of people who are invested and passionate about dance...not gathered enough.
As a young contemporary dancer, choreographer, teacher, researcher, producer and writer, the NDF has been incredibly valuable for me to learn, discuss and share ideas with a range of dance artists.
Reflecting on artistic practice
Many people described the forum as providing a key opportunity to reflect on and validate their practice. They described thinking more deeply about their work and that such processes were vital to artistic development.
...helps me reflect on my practice and what is essential to me, where I want to go, how I might develop, [the] idea of finding a mentor, and that I am part of a dance ecosystem.
feels like a jack of many trades is okay! Embrace the vulnerability, felt the power...
re-vitalised approach to my practice, a call to action through discussion and networking
plenty of inspiration for my next work
The forum allowed me to talk more widely about dance, triggered new directions of thought and renewed enthusiasm for my craft.
It has generated connection, inspired creative energy and brought new information to my practice.
Sharing and profiling practice
The opportunity to showcase and explain one’s own practice to one’s peers in the sector was described by many as significant to their artistic growth. This was particularly true for independent artists.
While my conversation with other artists was an invaluable part of this weekend, speaking at the public forum not only clarified my past practice, but placed my current work in a wider national context.
clarifies my interests in dance, allows me to connect to people I have heard of but never met—so wonderful...makes me feel powerful as a freelance/independent artist
It provides a focussed period to reflect on my contribution to the sector and how it intersects with others.
NDF has made me realise I am not alone in my journey to have my practice recognised as an Australian dance someday in the near future.
The panel 'Between us', with the independent artists panel was important and gave me a feeling of not being alone in my experiences, connections, and struggles with my practice and life as an independent artist.
I got an opportunity to share my work at the dance massive studios.
Ideas, inspiration and confidence
Participants said that sharing ideas and practice was a source of inspiration and confidence. Some spoke about increasing confidence in partnerships and in their own ideas.
The forum was inspiration, information, refreshing networking—and a fresh perspective on my own work.
Opportunity to hear inspirational artists speak.
People could actively participate and were encouraged to.
generate ideas, own thinking, stimulate ‘the work', dialogue and discussion with other artists
The dance sector
This meeting of performers, choreographers and practitioners is a catalyst for discussion and development for the dance sector. The forum is an opportunity to meet 'our need for a shared knowledge, deeper understandings of the many new directions and connections between dance artists that characterise our dance culture in the 21st century'.
Being able to get together in such a hothouse environment will lead to new collaborations and different ways of thinking about and enacting practice.
I felt hugely enriched and lucky to be present with a diverse panel of extraordinary artists, and I was really moved by their honesty and openness, humility and generosity. This conversation gave me a feeling of hope and strength.
The forum has provided me with the opportunity to learn from older generations and my own generation in regards to what we are doing and why, and it also facilitated the forming of a sort of collective consciousness in the dance sector.
meeting prolific influences on my career and learning from them
The ‘dance community'
Many people value connecting with peers and sharing knowledge and understandings as a sector. This was described as a 'sense of community and fraternity with peers and colleagues' that fed practice and engendered support for their work.
Enthusiastic conversations with fellow dancers/choreographers/collaborators who are based in many distant places across Australia.
feeling unified in the struggles associated with dance
community, honesty, transparency, knowledge sharing, connections to the sector
sharing and understanding that we all think in similar ways and have similar concerns
Understanding the Australian dance scene—awareness and engagement
The forum serves as an entry point to the Australian dance scene for those less familiar to it and a chance to see the 'big picture' while also meeting key people in the dance industry.
greater awareness and broader perspective/deeper understanding of issues and conversations in the sector
It helps gain more of a perspective/unity on what is the focus/role/ discussion/ progression of dance and how we fit within that.
I discovered new perspectives on dance practice and presentation.
It informs me of future directions in the dance field and links me in with other dance professionals.
Dance sector history
The forums acknowledge the history of dance in Australia, and place the forums in its trajectory. It was noted by observers and feedback that many practitioners have had little understanding of this history and how it can contribute to the sector’s development.
Our shared history is what makes us an ‘Australian’ dance community. Let us make it know, broadcast it, and celebrate it.
Diversity of practice
The forum programs include a range of topics and a diversity of speakers. The National Dance Forums have a strong sense of inclusivity and many participants have said that they were able to engage and contribute.