The Australian Dance Awards committee has announced the Lifetime Achievement Award for 2018 will be presented to Athol Willoughby, OAM, in recognition of his exceptional contribution to the dance profession in Australia for over 65 years.
Willoughby has had a long and distinguished career as one of Australia’s leading ballet dancers and teachers, connecting him with significant developments in mid-century Australian ballet and with major figures such as Walter Gore and Valrene Tweedie, and as an adjudicator and examiner for Cecchetti Ballet Australia.
Willoughby’s introduction to dance came when, as a young boy, he had a job sweeping out a cinema in Hobart prior to weekend screenings. He can still recall the excitement of seeing the stars of Hollywood musicals on screen—Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly were among them. But the real start of his long and illustrious career as a dancer, teacher, examiner, adjudicator and mentor came when, by chance, he was sitting next to a priest in the Theatre Royal in Hobart during a performance by the Borovansky Ballet. The priest arranged a meeting for him with local ballet teacher Beattie Jordan. Willoughby never saw the priest again but Jordan accepted him as a pupil and set him on his career path.
Later Willoughby was thrilled by performances in Hobart by the Melbourne-based National Theatre Ballet and made the decision to move to Melbourne where he was taught by esteemed Cecchetti teacher Lucie Saranova. He eventually joined National Theatre Ballet and performed with them, dancing in particular the repertoire of two directors of the company, Walter Gore and Valrene Tweedie. In 1958 Willoughby left for London where he joined Peter Darrell’s Western Theatre Ballet.
In Melbourne Willoughby had begun teaching and, in the 1950s, had gained Cecchetti qualifications. On his return from England he took up teaching again, largely in regional Victoria. But his work as an educator and mentor began in earnest in 1963 when he bought the Essendon Academy of Ballet, where he was director until his retirement in 1997. He also returned to the stage as a guest artist with The Australian Ballet in Anne Woolliams’ Swan Lake and Graeme Murphy’s Nutcracker.
The students whose careers the charismatic Willoughby nurtured have gone on to dance across the world, have become teachers and examiners, and have had their lives enriched by his continued service to dance, in particular to the Cecchetti approach to ballet. But he is nevertheless humble enough to say, ‘I was just there to try to teach them classical ballet correctly—I like to see it done correctly—and with discipline.’
In 2017 Willoughby celebrated his 85th birthday and his Lifetime Achievement award is formal recognition by the dance community of his extraordinary contribution.
Calling all aspiring professional dancers aged 18–24 years, applications are now open for Sydney Dance Company's Pre-Professional Year 2019.
“Sydney Dance Company’s Pre-Professional Year is an outstanding opportunity for aspiring dancers to gain exposure to Australia’s leading contemporary dance company. Pre-professional dancers will develop all the skills essential for a lifelong career in contemporary dance as well as being provided with unique professional development, networking and mentorship opportunities under the guidance of the artistic staff of Sydney Dance Company.” Rafael Bonachela, Artistic Director, Sydney Dance Company
Applications are open to Australian and New Zealand citizens or permanent residents only.
Application closing date: Monday 27 August 2018
Audition: The first round of Pre-Professional Year auditions will be an online application process that includes a video submission.
Successful first round applicants will be invited to a second round in-person audition at Sydney Dance Company Studios on 17 September 2018 between 9am and 6pm.
For more information please visit 2019 Pre-Professional Year Audition Application.
Celebrating 21 years, the Australian Dance Awards is one of the country’s most prestigious performing arts awards. The Awards acknowledge people working in the professional dance sector who have made innovative and exceptional work of national significance, or have made an outstanding and enduring contribution to the dance industry.
‘Arriving at the shortlist is a demanding job for the volunteer panel of 13 dance sector professionals representing all states and territories’, said Julie Dyson, nominations coordinator for the 2018 Australian Dance Awards.
‘Panel members include educators, independent artists, dance company directors, and writers/reviewers. We receive between 450 and 700 nominations each year. A thorough voting system is in place, with two, sometimes three rounds of voting.’
Presented by Ausdance National, the 2018 awards will take place on Saturday 8 September at the Brisbane Powerhouse, with tickets on sale from 9 July.
‘Ausdance National is honoured to present the 21st Australian Dance Awards in partnership with industry sponsors’, said Kerry Comerford, Executive Director of Ausdance National. ‘The Awards ceremony is the time we acknowledge and celebrate the dance profession’s depth and diversity, both on and off the stage.’
Presented in an afternoon of performances showcasing some of Australia’s best dance of the past year, the annual Australian Dance Awards rely on the generosity and goodwill of the dance sector. ‘It’s important that the event represents the excellence and diversity of dance in Australia’ said Sandi Woo, 2018 Award’s producer.
For interview or more information contact:
Kerry Comerford, Executive Director, Ausdance National
2018 Australian Dance Awards shortlist
Services to Dance
- Philippe Charluet
- Marilyn Miller
- Philip Piggin
- Hilary Trotter
Services to Dance Education
- Paige Gordon
- Raewyn Hill
- Sinsa Mansell
- Katrina Rank
Outstanding Achievement in Community Dance
- Annette Carmichael (choreography), James Gentle (sound design) for The Beauty Index
- Tracks Dance for Man Made
- QPAC, The Royal Ballet and Community Groups for We All Dance
- Sprung!! Integrated Dance Theatre for Share House
Outstanding Achievement in Youth Dance
- Austinmer Dance Theatre for UNREAL
- Co3 for Project next
- QL2 Dance for This Poisoned Sea
- Moorambilla Voices for Gundabooka
Outstanding Performance by a Company
- Co3 for The Zone
- Dancenorth Attractor
- STRUT Dance for William Forsythe's One Flat Thing, Reproduced
- Queensland Ballet for Raw (triple bill): No Man’s Land, Glass Concerto and Ghost Dances
Outstanding Achievement in Choreography
- Lucy Guerin and Gideon Obarzanek for Attractor (Dancenorth and Lucy Guerin Inc)
- Raewyn Hill for The Zone (Co3)
- Stephanie Lake for Pile of Bones (Stephanie Lake Company)
- Stephen Page for Bennelong (2017) (Bangarra Dance Theatre)
Outstanding Achievement in Independent Dance
- Martin del Amo for CHAMPIONS
- Australian Dance Artists for Restraint(s)
- Michelle Heaven for In Plan
- Nick Power (choreography), Jack Prest (sound design) for Between Tiny Cities រវាងទីក្រុងតូច
Outstanding Performance by a Female Dancer
- Jana Castillo for construct (Australian Dance Theatre)
- Amber Haines for Spectra (Dancenorth)
- Ako Kondo for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (The Australian Ballet)
- Charmene Yap for Ocho (Sydney Dance Company)
Outstanding Performance by a Male Dancer
- Richard Causer for Behind Closed Doors (Expressions Dance Company)
- Nelson Earl for Ocho (Sydney Dance Company)
- Beau Dean Riley Smith for Bennelong (2017) (Bangarra Dance Theatre)
- Kimball Wong for construct (Australian Dance Theatre)
Outstanding Achievement in Commercial Dance, Musicals or Physical Theatre
- Gravity & Other Myths for BACKBONE
- Michael Ralph for SELF
- Andrew Hallsworth for Muriel’s Wedding (Sydney Theatre Company and Global Creatures)
- Nicola Gunn and Jo Lloyd for Piece for Person and Ghetto Blaster
Outstanding Achievement in Dance on Film or New Media
- Richard James Allen for Enchant
- Sophia Bender for Behind Barres
- Sue Healey for Eileen
- Catherine Moore & Jade Lowry for Unstilled
We are currently representing the dance sector by contributing knowledge to three urgent issues that impact healthy growth in Australia’s creative economy:
- Access to professional mental health support for those who work in the entertainment industry, because we can't tackle these issues in isolation. We need to support each other.
- Access to education and training resources to prevent discrimination, harassment, sexual harassment and bullying, because these impact our mental health and wellbeing. Together we can create healthy work environments free from these threats.
- Sustainable access to international expertise that transfers skills to Australian organisations and creatives, because this will stimulate innovation.
Congratulations to all who took part in BIG DANCE this year. It was wonderful to be part of the handover at Cathedral square on Sunday 29 April and fantastic to meet Jacqueline Rose, and learn of the Big Dance legacy.
Our AGM took place on Sunday the 13 May, at Ausdance NSW meeting room. The Annual Report is now available. 2017 was a big year of activity, advocacy and change.
Five Australian entertainment industry professionals attempt suicide every week. The time for change is now!
We need you, as an Australian entertainment industry professional, to share your thoughts surrounding the mental health needs of our industry people, how they should be supported and what are the most pressing issues.
There is still time to have your say. Your opinion matters.
In less than 25 minutes, you can complete the survey and help guide the development of programs aimed at enhancing the mental health and wellbeing of Australian entertainment industry professionals.
Conducted on behalf of Entertainment Assist and the Australian Alliance for Wellness in Entertainment, findings from the new Everymind study will inform the development and implementation of a Prevention First Framework for Mental Health in the Australian Entertainment Industry.
Please share far and wide. Mental health and wellbeing in our industry is our shared responsibility, and we are looking for perspectives from all industry sectors.
If your job is technical, creative, behind-the-scenes or in front of a microphone or camera, we want to hear from you!
Survey link: bit.ly/MHEntertainAUSDANCE
Your response will remain strictly confidential and any published results de-identified.
We have identified that our industry has significant mental health and wellbeing problems. It’s now time to work on a solution together.
Twitter: @entertainassist #haveheart
About the Australian Alliance for Wellness in Entertainment
The Australian Alliance for Wellness in Entertainment is an Entertainment Assist cross-sector peer-to-peer initiative, for shared interest in positive mental health and wellbeing behaviours for a sustainable Australian entertainment industry.
Why is Ausdance National supporting this research?
Ausdance National is a founding member of the Australian Alliance for Wellness in Entertainment.
As a member, we strive to uphold the AAWE Statement of Values that highlight respect, integrity, empathy, courage and collaborative leadership. We aim to provide advocacy and practical support to the mental health and wellbeing of industry professionals.
‘AAWE officially launched on World Mental Health Day on 10 October 2017, 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, Ausdance National President
Congratulations to Lucette Aldous who has been made Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) in the Australia Day 2018 Honours List.
Lucette has been recognised with the nation’s highest honour for her eminent service to the performing arts, particularly to ballet, as a principal artist at the national and international level, to dance education, and as a mentor and role model for young performers.
Lucette received the 2009 Lifetime Achievement Award at the Australian Dance Awards.
The Safe Dance Report IV: Investigating injuries in Australia’s professional dancers, published today on the Ausdance National website, examines the Australian context and occurrence of injury in professional dancers and makes recommendations to support sustainable, healthy, and productive dancing careers.
A collaboration between The University of Sydney and Ausdance National, Safe Dance IV is the fourth in a series of Safe Dance research projects. It continues the important work started by Ausdance National almost 30 years ago.
The survey of 195 Australian professional dancers found 97% experienced at least one significant injury in their dance career, compared with 89% in 1999. And 73% of dancers reported experiencing a dance-related injury in the past 12 months.
Author and lead researcher Amy Jo Vassallo, a PhD candidate at the Faculty of Health Sciences at The University of Sydney, said the consequences of these injuries can be quite substantial and include missed performance opportunities and income, ongoing pain and disability, and expensive treatment including surgery. Serious injuries can even lead to early retirement from dance careers and lifelong disability.
‘The proportion of dancers reporting fatigue as a contributing factor to their injury has increased from 26% in 1990 and 33% in 1999 to 48% in 2017’ she said.
‘However, compared with previous Safe Dance survey results, fewer dancers reported poor technique or environment as a contributor to their injury. This demonstrates the benefits of education, policies and interventions regarding safe dancing practice for dancers and teachers at all stages of a dance career, including early teaching and pre-professional training’.
Ausdance National President, Professor Gene Moyle, said the Safe Dance Report IV continues an important lineage for the Australian dance community. Hearing the words “safe dance practice” being so much a part of our language and approach within the dance sector today is a testament to the impact and contribution of the collective Safe Dance reports within our industry.
Recommendations have outlined that access to dance-educated or dance-specialised healthcare services is essential; addressing the cultural aspects of injury reporting is critical; and that a better acknowledgement of the psychological and psychosocial aspects of injury is required.
Survey respondents’ employment as a dance performer was most commonly with a dance company (66%) or as an independent dance artist (38%).
Injuries remain common in professional dance, with 73% of professional dancers reporting experiencing an injury in the past 12 months. The most common site of injury was the ankle (26%), followed by the knee (11%) and hip (10%).
The most common injury type was a strain (25%), followed by chronic inflammation (19%) and a sprain (18%).
There was one accidental or traumatic injury for every two overuse or gradual injuries. The most common responses regarding the self-reported contributor to injury were fatigue (48%), followed by new or difficult choreography (39%) and ignoring early warning signs (31%).
Despite 62% of respondents reporting belief that there is still stigma associated with sustaining injuries as a professional dancer, 75% of dancers did say they would seek professional opinion if they suspected an injury. However, only 50% stated they would tell someone within their dance employment and 49% said they would also take their own preventative steps to manage their injury.
Despite seeing a clinician for treatment of their injury, 40% of dancers whose injury was currently unresolved were unsure if their injury would resolve in the foreseeable future. This indicates that many dancers need to be provided with improved and realistic expectations of their injury, capacity to dance during their injury and likely return to full dance ability.
For interview contact:
Amy Vassallo | PhD Candidate
Faculty of Health Sciences
The University of Sydney
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 02 9351 9010 and 02 9351 9108
Professor Gene Moyle ARAD MAPS MCSEP GAICD SFHEA
Ausdance National Council – Ausdance Inc.
Email: [email protected]
Phone: +61 7 3138 3616
Download Safe Dance Report IV media release
Since our last report, NAAE has been engaged in meetings and correspondence with the NSW Education Minister, Mr Rob Stokes, and the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) about the development of a new Creative Arts syllabus in NSW.
Expressions of interest are sought from contemporary dancer–makers for Tasdance professional ensemble 2018–20.
Tasdance has embarked on a daring new approach to the nature of the professional contemporary dance ensemble to become the Tasdance Makers Company.
The NAAE will have its next meeting on 11 December, but NSW reps will in the meantime be meeting with NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) to discuss concerns about the way in which the Creative Arts K-6 Syllabus is being rewritten, and about the exclusion of Media Arts from the NSW curriculum, despite agreement by all Australian governments to adopt the Australian Curriculum: The Arts. It’s clear that NSW’s options clearly do not represent the agreement endorsed at COAG (which included the NSW Education Minister). (Minister’s response [PDF 2.9MB]
Congratulations to Kristina Chan who received the Ausdance National Peggy van Praagh Choreographic Fellowship at the 2017 Australian Dance Awards on Sunday 24 September 2017.
Can you even remember life before the internet? Hang on, perhaps you weren’t alive.
The digital domain has transformed almost every facet of our lives—but for those of us in the arts, it’s been especially influential in the way we make and consume art. In many ways there have never been more ways to get your art out there, and the artistic possibilities of new technologies are seemingly endless…but life for dance in the digital domain is not without its challenges.
Tuesday 22 August 2017
For immediate release
Australia’s peak dance organisation, Ausdance National, will host a two-day forum next month bringing together dance makers, producers and presenters for a highly topical forum focusing on the future of dance within the digital domain. The National Dance Forum is Australia’s key platform for dance artists, industry professionals and educators in providing rich opportunities to discuss, debate and collaborate with some of the most influential individuals and organisations in the country.
We are thrilled to announce our third key speaker for National Dance Forum 2017—David Throsby, Distinguished Professor of Economics at Macquarie University.
Save the dates: 24–26 September 2017
Join us in Melbourne for the Australian Dance Awards on 24 September and the National Dance Forum from 25–26 September.
We hope you can join us at both events. Here are the booking and registration details:
Registrations for National Dance Forum 2017 have opened. The last three forums have sold out in advance, so book early to make sure you're part of the most important dance discussion in Australia. Register here
We know the dance sector wants a chance to share, inspire, connect and to be inspired by the whole dance industry—that includes the broader ecology, from independents to majors. At NDF 2017 we'll hear inspiring talks from our National Dance Forum 2017 speakers.
Here are our first speakers for this year's forum.
Congratulations to the shortlisted nominees for one of the country’s most prestigious performing arts awards. The Australian Dance Awards recognise and honour outstanding achievement.
2017 National Dance Forum
25–26 September, Victorian College of the Arts
The NAAE supports the review of the VET FEE-HELP rules, and understands the need to weed out those rorting the system and those private providers delivering sub-standard courses in line with Australian Quality Framework (AQF) that applies to all post-compulsory education. However, we have major concerns about the methodology used to identify courses that will no longer qualify for government assistance, and take this opportunity to provide information that may not have been available earlier.
NAAE noted firstly that the department must take account of poorer SES students who may use VET courses as a gateway to university study. If reputable RTOs offering arts courses are eliminated, these opportunities will immediately disadvantage some students, particularly those from regional and remote schools where the arts have been a major factor in eliminating poor attendance records, and where career pathways in the arts are identified.
NAAE also questioned why some previously eliminated providers are already back on the list, and yet the larger reputable TAFEs and arts training institutions are not. NAAE would like to know what criteria were used to make these decisions.
In response to a question about whether there was another sector like the Arts, NAAE noted that the arts industry was unique in the ways in which it trained and employed artists.