Dance in the Northern Territory

In June we visited Darwin and participated in Monsoon Sessions, a professional development program for local artists. The two dance forums considered a range of issues of particular concern to NT artists, including Indigenous dance opportunities, career pathways, dance policy and the future of Ausdance NT.

One of the forums focused on the Ausdance skill set for Teaching Dance, and we’re hopeful that it may be possible to deliver the skill set in the Territory because of its particular relevance to community dance leaders there.

We met with the NT Arts Minister, Gerald McCarthy, who noted that dance in the Northern Territory is vibrant, diverse and very present in the everyday lives of the large Indigenous and multicultural populations. As a trained teacher, the Minister was also very interested in the delivery of dance in schools.

Dance in NT communities is created, produced and performed in some diverse and sometimes unexpected settings, and the Minister was keen to see the potential of dance in the NT extended into greater opportunities for the Territory’s dance artists.

David McMicken from Tracks with Kristi Renfrey (l) and Saranga Nirudya Alwis rehearsing From Eight to Eighty.

Tracks Dance was rehearsing a new program, Eight to Eighty, so the opportunity to see this piece in rehearsal with the artistic directors David McMicken and Tim Newth was very special. Tracks is a vibrant, connected company, and meeting with the directors and manager Susan Congreve enabled a great exchange of ideas and plans for the future.

Tim Newth from Tracks with Theeradet (Teddy) Suphannabutt (l) & Darren Evans rehearsing for From Eight to Eighty.

And how exciting it was to attend one of Darwin’s major multicultural events, [email protected], a festival of dance, music, food and markets on the famous Mindil Beach.

Images from the Indian dance festival held at the beautiful Mindil beach.  Photo: Julie Dyson

Other meetings were held with ArtsNT director Hania Radvan and project officer Georgia Thomas, ArtBack NT executive officer Louise Partos and, of course, Ausdance NT, which has recently elected a new board. The Chair is Kajaliny Ranjithkumar, a lawyer and Indian dancer, and she is supported by a new group of committed dance people, including long-time Ausdance board member (and former staffer), Janice McEwen.

The board has recently appointed Christine Colton, an experienced arts administrator, as the new Director of Ausdance NT, assisted by volunteers Lizzie Webb and Bryn Wackett. They are working with ArtsNT on the review of dance in the Northern Territory, which will no doubt be informed by the Monsoon Sessions forums.

This five-day visit reaffirmed the importance of Ausdance NT to the Ausdance network as we endeavour to profile the unique dance being produced there, develop our regional programs, and find better ways to support Indigenous and multicultural communities.