Careers in dance

Lewis Major receives Keith Bain Choreographic Travel Fellowship

At the 21st Australian Dance Awards (8 September 2018), Ausdance National awarded the Keith Bain Choreographic Travel Fellowship to Lewis Major. The fellowship provides financial assistance for an emerging choreographer to travel internationally with the sole purpose of developing and extending their choreographic practice.

Lewis has designed a program of mentorship and career development activities designed to build his professional networks and further develop skills in dramaturgy, choreography and independent producing in an international context. The program includes activities to strengthen his choreographic and broader artistic development and practice by facilitating face-to-face dialogue and creative output with international artistic collaborators.

Lewis will travel to Israel, Taiwan and Europe.

Lewis Major

Being raised in the rural heart of the Antipodes, there was a scarcity of art being made available to regional audiences as I was growing up. Hence, as an emerging artist, I am passionate about making dance accessible; strongly believing that intelligence in art and its relevance to audiences is fundamental in its power to enact change.

View recent choreography from Lewis Major on Vimeo.

Lewis Major in performance

Lewis Major is an award-winning choreographer, dancer and creative entrepreneur based in the deep south of regional South Australia. Not having set foot in a theatre until his mid-teens, he finds it ironic to now be working in the most maligned and misunderstood sector of the arts industry: contemporary dance.

He is the only dance artist he’s ever heard of who can both shear a sheep, has danced with Hugh Jackman and travelled to all three axis-of-evil countries. His work is invested in the potential of choreography and performance to inform a cultural discourse of sorts and to enable affective experiences.

As a performer and dance maker, he has worked with and alongside Akram Khan, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Russell Maliphant, Shaun Parker, Hans van Den Broeck/Cie Soit and Australian Dance Theatre. He was a founding member of Aakash Odedra Company. With an extensive back catalogue of choreographies, he has created and staged his own work on six continents.

Alongside his choreographic work, Lewis is dedicated to mentoring and supporting young male dancers from regional and less privileged areas of Australia. He has the sole rights in South Australia to Shaun Parker’s outdoor work, TROLLEYS, and has toured it to regional areas in the South East of SA, with a secondee program running alongside for regionally based dancers. He has also initiated collaborations and an exchange program between dance students in Taiwan and South Australia. He is currently setting up a not-for-profit artist in residence creative hub and art hotel in Adelaide, with the profits being funneled back into supporting creative practice in state.

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Athol Willoughby OAM to receive the 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award

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.

Athol WilloughbyAthol Willoughby, OAM. Photographer: Michela Dent-Causon

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.

Dancers on stageValrene Tweedie and Athol Willoughby in Le coq d'or. National Theatre Ballet 1955. Photo: Walter Stringer.

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.

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Apply for Sydney Dance Company Pre-Professional Year Program 2019

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

Key information

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.

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Congratulations to the shortlisted nominees of the 21st Australian Dance Awards

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.

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

2018 Australian Dance Awards shortlist media release (50 KB PDF)

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Executive Director’s May update

Advocating for a sustainable and thriving dance sector was the theme of my first month as Ausdance National's Executive Director

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.

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Have your say! Entertainment Industry Wellbeing Survey

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.

Entertainment Assist, in association with Everymind, have launched an online survey as part of a research project for the mental health needs of our industry.

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.

www.entertainmentassist.org.au
FB: http://www.facebook.com/entertainmentassist
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

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Lucette Aldous made Companion of the Order of Australia (AC)

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.

Lucette AldousPhoto: Barry Moreland

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Fatigue identified as major contributor to injury in Australia’s professional dancers

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.

Key findings

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
President
Ausdance National Council – Ausdance Inc.
Email: [email protected]
Phone: +61 7 3138 3616

Download Safe Dance Report IV media release

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Dancer–makers: apply for Tasdance Makers Company

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.

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National Advocates for Arts Education October update

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]

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​Meeting the future head-on

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.

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National Dance Forum 2017: Dance in the Digital Domain

MEDIA RELEASE (84Kb PDF)

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.

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First National Dance Forum 2017 speakers announced

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.

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2017 Australian Dance Awards shortlist

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.

Dancer on stage floor leaning back with head tilted skyward and one arm reaching up.iD by Bangarra Dance Theatre. Choreographed by Stephen Page. Photography by Jeff Busby

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