Industry news

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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We are launching our new branding across the Ausdance network!

Ausdance logo The new Ausdance visual brand has been designed by Brisbane-based design firm Designfront.

It is with great excitement that we announce the launch of our new branding across the Ausdance network! This new brand represents a strong and ambitious future for Ausdance. A future built on a legacy of national advocacy and the delivery of exceptional dance projects throughout Australia. 

Over the next few months you will start to notice that we will commence updating our websites and other publications to reflect the new visual brand. We look forward to continuing to support, represent, and advance the wonderful sector that is dance in Australia.

Professor Gene Moyle, President, Ausdance National.

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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.

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

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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Save the date: 2018 Australian Dance Awards

The 2018 Australian Dance Awards will take place on Saturday 8 September at 4.00 pm at the Brisbane Powerhouse.

We have appointed Sandi Woo as Producer. Sandi will work with local and interstate companies, independent dance artists and Ausdance Queensland to create a diverse program for the event. The late afternoon time slot has been selected so that everyone can enjoy Brisbane Festival’s Opening Celebrations, later that evening. 

We will announce more details in the coming weeks, including details of sector meetings set to take place over that weekend, ensuring wonderful networking opportunities.

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Archiving Ausdance National at the National Library of Australia

With about 250 Ausdance National archive boxes now housed at the National Library in Canberra, the work of cataloguing their contents continues.

This week marked a major milestone in this process, with Julie Dyson and Sandra Macarthur-Onslow reaching the 200-box mark in a collection that includes 40 years of Ausdance National’s achievements—submissions, funding applications, letters of support, reports, analysis of the dance sector, projects such as Safe Dance & Dancers’ Transition, strategic plans, minutes, publications, photographs, plus an impressive archive of Australian dance companies, large and small, and independent artists’ ephemera. It’s an amazing and impressive record of a 40-year period in Australian dance history between 1977 and 2017 which we are sure future researchers will find invaluable.

the joys of open plan office spacesJulie Dyson and Sandra Macarthur-Onslow at work at the National Library of Australia.

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World Dance Alliance prepares for Panpapanpalya

As Secretary of WDA Asia Pacific, I am preparing agendas and papers for the annual general meeting of WDA Asia Pacific, to be held in Adelaide on Wednesday 11 July. Ausdance National supports the WDA through publication of conference proceedings on the Ausdance website and I represent Ausdance through board membership of both the Global Executive and the Asia-Pacific region.

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Arts educators call for intervention in ‘flawed’ Arts curriculum review process

Following meetings in Canberra with politicians and the Secretary of the Department of Communications & the Arts in late February, the National Advocates for Arts Education (NAAE) has again focused on what it considers to be the flawed consultation process being undertaken by the NSW Education Syllabus Authority (NESA).

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2018 Australian Dance Awards nominations update

This year almost 200 nominations have made the 2018 long list. As acting nominations coordinator, I have been working with the panel to assess all nominations for eligibility, and we have been pleased to acknowledge the vast majority in the categories in which they were nominated.

The panel is about to begin work on the shortlisting process by reading each nomination and, where possible, viewing the work provided by the nominees. The panel will go through three rounds of voting, selecting their top four in each category in the first round, reviewing and voting again in the second round, and finally, if required, conferring by teleconference prior to the short list being announced. In this process the nominations coordinator tallies up the votes in each round, which also identifies the eventual winner in each category. The nominations for Lifetime Achievement are also considered, but nominees in this category are not published in advance.

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Ausdance National Council President’s Report – April 2018

It is with great excitement that on behalf of the Ausdance National Council, I am pleased to announce that the recruitment process for our new Executive Director has been completed, and this week we welcome Kerry Comerford to our Ausdance community! Kerry is an exceptionally experienced senior executive and CEO who has worked for more than 30 years across the global arts and entertainment industries. Her extensive experience in small-to-medium arts organisations in Australia through to the global likes of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Really Useful Group Asia Pacific, provide Ausdance National with a wonderful platform through which to lead the work towards our refocused vision. With an early passion for dance and previous experience working with the both the art form and many artists within the sector, Kerry will use her leadership, producing, directing and board experience to work closely with the dance sector and our other arts sector colleagues to best represent and advocate for dance in Australia.

With Kerry now taking over the leadership of Ausdance National as Executive Director, this will be my last formal President’s Report for our monthly e-news. I look forward to supporting Kerry and the staff, volunteers and broader Ausdance network from more of a ‘behind-the-scenes’ Board position. A big thank you to the Ausdance network, dance community and broader arts sector for all the advice, encouragement, and collegial support that has been provided to both myself and the Board during the past 13 months! We look forward to working with you in a slightly different, although still 100% committed, capacity moving forward.

In the interim, advocacy work has been ongoing. Ausdance National will be representing the sector at the upcoming Industry Roundtable being held by Live Performance Australia in Melbourne on ‘Education and Training Resources to prevent workplace discrimination, harassment, sexual harassment and bullying’. This is a result of the #metoo and #timesup movements, and will be an important opportunity for the broader arts sector to discuss the way forward on this critical issue. Additionally, Ausdance National continues with its role as one of the inaugural members of the Australian Alliance for Wellness in Entertainment Advisory Committee Meeting with the next meeting being held in Sydney in late April.

Finally, the Ausdance National Annual General Meeting will be held in Sydney at the Ausdance NSW meeting room on Sunday 13 May at 10 am. We look forward to having as many members attend the AGM to be able to meet our new Executive Director, hear about the all of the various achievements in 2017—our 40th Anniversary year, in addition to receiving an update on all the exciting plans ahead for Ausdance National! We look forward to seeing you all there.

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Kerry Comerford announced as Executive Director Ausdance National

The Australian Dance Council—Ausdance Inc, the national peak body for dance, is pleased to announce the appointment of a new Executive Director for Ausdance National.

Kerry ComerfordKerry Comerford, Executive Director Ausdance Nationa

Board President Professor Gene Moyle today announced the appointment of Kerry Comerford, who takes up the position this week.

Professor Moyle said, ‘After a comprehensive recruitment process, the Ausdance National Council is pleased to welcome Kerry Comerford to our Ausdance community.

Kerry is an exceptionally experienced senior executive and CEO who has worked for more than 30 years across the global arts and entertainment industries. She brings a broad range of experiences to the role having worked extensively with small-to-medium arts organisations in Australia through to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Really Useful Group Asia Pacific. 

With an early passion for dance and previous experience working with both the art form and many artists within the sector, Kerry will use her leadership, producing, directing and board experience to work closely with the dance sector and our other arts sector colleagues to best represent and advocate for dance in Australia.’

The appointment of an Executive Director is the first stage in the implementation of Ausdance National’s 2018 Australia Council for the Arts funded project. The project refocuses the work of Ausdance National to better represent and service the dance sector in Australia in 2018 and beyond.

Under Kerry's leadership, and with the support of the Ausdance National Board, Ausdance National will achieve a number of key outcomes that support identified sector priorities including the review and update of Dance Plan 2012 involving sector-wide consultations; advancing advocacy items with key federal politicians, representation and relevant sector submissions; and establishment of a career development project.

For interview contact:

Professor Gene Moyle ARAD MAPS MCSEP GAICD SFHEA
President Ausdance National Council – Ausdance Inc.
Email
Phone: +61 7 3138 3616

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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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Ausdance National Council President’s update – March 2018

It’s been a very busy start to 2018 with quite a number of changes happening at Ausdance National!

Firstly, we ended our 40th year with a fabulous acknowledgment of the important work that Ausdance National undertakes, through critical funding support from the Australia Council for the Arts to assist in supporting the advancement of dance sector priorities. We are very grateful for the opportunity to appoint a new Executive Director to lead a refocused Ausdance National as a future enabler for the sector. We are currently in the final stages of the recruitment process, which has drawn strong applicants from across Australia and Internationally. The Board looks forward to completing this process very soon and actively supporting the incumbent in transitioning into the role.

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Dancenorth winners of a prestigious 2017 Sidney Myer Performing Arts Award

Five Dancenorth dancers walk out of the sea through rough waves.Photo: Amber Haines

North Queensland based and nationally renowned dance company Dancenorth have been awarded the 2017 Sidney Myer Group Award

The winners of the prestigious 2017 Sidney Myer Performing Arts Awards were announced by Carrillo Gantner AO, Chair of the Sidney Myer Fund at the Brisbane Powerhouse as part of the Australian Performing Arts Market on Wednesday 21 February 2018.

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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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Australia Council Arts Project funding to support crucial dance sector priorities

Ausdance National has received $64,860 from the Australia Council’s Arts Projects program to support the position of a new executive director who, in 2018, will work towards achieving outcomes that support identified sector priorities.

Under the leadership of a senior arts professional, and supported by a skills-based board, Ausdance National will advance prioritised national agendas across education, research, health, employment, and sector development.

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Ausdance National Council President’s Report – December 2017

As the end of the year draws closer, it has provided the opportunity to reflect on what a year 2017 has been for Ausdance National.

Firstly, we turned 40! It is incredible and humbling to reflect upon Ausdance National’s achievements over the past 40 years, including the huge number of people that have made significant contributions to supporting, advancing, promoting and celebrating the dance sector. While there were a number of key events and activities that assisted in celebrating this important milestone, a detailed outline of all these achievements can be found on the Ausdance National website.

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