March 2019

March Update

It is a very busy time with an abundance of vibrant dance activity across the country on offer this month. With a range of festivals and events reflecting the diversity of independent practice, the vibrancy of our companies, the celebration of milestones, legacies, and a variety of dance forms.   

Ausdance National is very grateful for the support is has recently received and for more information behind the cancellation of the 2019 Australian Dance Awards, please click here. Please help us to support Australian dance by giving to our Building Momentum fundraising campaign here.  

The Ausdance National AGM will be held in Melbourne, Friday 15 March, 10 - 11 am to rsvp email [email protected] and or more information click here


It is imperative that Ausdance National focuses on building momentum and securing on-going financial support.  Without this, the dance sector will lose an essential national voice to lobby for increased sector support and investment and policy.    

Ausdance National is currently working with other key peak performing arts organisations and calling for a secure future and a vibrant creative vision for Australia. Read more

Ausdance National is currently working with other key peak performing arts organisations and calling for a secure future and a vibrant creative vision for Australia. 

2019 Federal Election

Ausdance National is working with key peak performing arts and calling for all sides of politics: 


  • To support the development of a National Indigenous Arts and Cultural Authority.  
  • To restore the full amounts of money diverted from the Australia Council in 2014 and 2015.  
  • To secure additional committed government support to rebuild stability of the Arts sector through investment in grants, national touring, strategic initiatives and organisations and a new fund to support the development of new major Australian works.  
  • Advance the interconnections between the arts and other portfolios for better public policy outcomes including:
    • Arts in Education (STEAM)
    • Arts & Health
    • Regional resilience and development 
    • Arts and Cultural Tourism
    • Federal/State/Local Government Compact
    • Creative industries and economic development

The organisations that we are working include:

Australian Major Performing Arts Group (AMPAG)
Ausdance National
Live Performance Australia
Music Australia
Performing Arts Connections Australia
Regional Arts Australia
Symphony Services Australia
Theatre Network Australia



Save the Date

HOME - National Dance Forum
Dance of place, disruption and belonging Discussions / Workshops / Debate

National Dance Forum 2019, presented by Ausdance National, Darwin, 9 – 10 August. We are thrilled to be presenting the National Dance Forum with Tracks Dance Company and more information and a call for contributions will be announced in the coming weeks. 

Call for Abstracts

ASPAH 2019 Conference, 30 November to 1 December 2019

Lasting the distance – A lifetime in the performing arts will be held at Melbourne Arts Centre. Keynote speaker this year is Dr Sue Mayes, Principal Physiotherapist of The Australian Ballet since 1997. She is the Director of the company’s world-leading Artistic Health Team and treats the diverse injuries of the professional ballet dancer and other elite athletes. Submissions are invited for papers and workshops addressing issues of injury management and prevention, psychological wellbeing, preparation, education, and support both on and off the stage in the performing arts.
Read on >> 

Call for  Contributions

Royal Academy of Dance Conference – Shaping Bodies, Shaping Minds

Marking the first in a series of events celebrating the Academy's centenary, the Faculty of Education invites contributions for RADAustralia’s next international conference to be held in Melbourne, 18-19 January 2020. 

With a focus on innovations, provocations and insights into the role of dance education, training and interdisciplinary engagement in the shaping of bodies and minds to meet diverse and often challenging dance landscapes, we are looking for contributions which address Shaping Bodies, Shaping Minds themes. We are seeking contributions in the form of lectures, research presentations, practical demonstrations and panel discussions and encourage expressions of interest from Early Career Researchers and postgraduate students wishing to present their work in a supportive environment. 
Read on >>


There is an array of performances taking place across the country in March providing opportunities for artists and collectives such as Phluxus2 Dance Collective to build a three-state tour of their newest work, angel-monster touring to Sydney, Canberra and Brisbane.  Read more 

While the Adelaide Festival features international and Australian artists and companies. Zizanie is an exciting new work for all ages created by Australian dance icon, Meryl Tankard for Adelaide’s own Restless Dance Theatre, celebrates the beauty in difference and reminds us of Grayson Perry’s inimitable words that “weeds are just flowers in the wrong garden.” 
Read on >>

March Dance, Sydney, 1 – 31 March: 94 dance events in 31 days. 

Taking place for the first time in 2019 March Dance will bring together the diversity of ongoing independent dance practice in Sydney; opening these activities to a wide audience.  

March Dance will see 96 artists and 15 organisations in Sydney presenting new dance works, engaging in workshops, dance classes, residencies, sharings, screenings, forums and talks throughout the entire month. Showcasing the dynamic ongoing work of dance artists and organisations and in a range of spaces and contexts.
Read on  >>

Dance Massive,  Melbourne 12 – 24 March

People from across the planet come together to explore the future of Australian dance every two years, and that time is now. A consortium of three core organisations presents dance Massive – Arts House, Dancehouse and Malthouse – which has been building the festival’s reputation and impact, diversified the types of works presented and grown enthusiastic and informed audiences while maintaining a boutique and friendly festival dynamic.
Read on >>

The Bold Festival, Canberra, 13 – 17 March  

The BOLD Festival draws on the legacies of our cultural elders, celebrates the changes that come with age. The Festival is unique in Australia and provides a platform for the work of older and still practising artists to celebrate their longevity and the health impacts of dance and creativity. BOLD also celebrates the cross-generational exchange of ideas and experiences and how cultural legacies inspire emerging artists. Read more. 
Read on >> 

Sydney Dance Company, 26 March – 13 April

Sydney Dance Company’s 50th Anniversary bursts into life with a formidable triple bill from Rafael Bonachela, Gabrielle Nankivell and Melanie Lane, each having carved their own unique style, pushing at the possibilities of movement. In a season premiering in Sydney before touring nationally, audiences will see three thrilling works share the one stage for the first time.
Read on >> 

Supercell, Festival of Contemporary Dance, Brisbane 30 March -  7 April 

Supercell Festival of Contemporary Dance is a celebration of people and place through vibrant and exquisite contemporary dance. A program, full of colour and dynamic dance from innovative local, national and international artists. 
Read on >>


Arts Education 

NAAE - Update by Julie Dyson 

The National Advocates for Arts Education (NAAE) celebrates its 30thanniversary this year and has adopted a five-point strategy for future action. 

Founded in 1989 by representatives of five national peak arts organisations, it has achieved significant progress in the fields of dance, drama, music, media arts and visual arts education. In particular, it secured the inclusion of the arts as a mandatory part of the current national curriculum for schools. For dance, this has been an extraordinary step forward, bringing the subject into line with all other art forms in the curriculum.

NAAE has also consulted widely with federal and state Ministers and MPs, made submissions, produced publications, position papers and arts curriculum for the Early Years Learning Framework, as well as being consultants in the ACARA processes of producing The Australian Curriculum: The Arts.

To mark its significant milestone, NAAE met in Sydney recently to develop a new strategic plan that would provide leadership in advocating for the arts in education and continue its active support for arts educators across Australia.

Five strategies for action:

  • Advocacy: NAAE will continue to advise and meet with federal decision makers to improve arts curriculum at all levels of education. It also will make submissions to parliamentary inquiries and curriculum reviews.
  • Research: NAAE will work with research partners on issues such as creativity, curriculum policy, implementation and evaluation, PISA rankings etc.
  • Collaboration: NAAE will build on its strength in collaborating with other key organisations such as ACARA, Australian Primary Principals’ Association, the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership, Australian Council for Deans of Education, Australian Alliance of Associations in Educationand the Australia Council to achieve positive outcomes for arts education.
  • Communication: NAAE’s new website will be a communication hub that will encourage sector engagement with NAAE’s actions, publications, media releases, current research, case studies of exemplary practice in arts education and its archives.
  • Governance: NAAE is revising its constitution to bring it up to date with current practice.


In the past few weeks, we have seen the passing of leading dance educators that have made significant contributions to the Australian dance landscape.

Dr Warren Lett, by Jule Dyson and Shirley McKechnie  

Dr Warren Lett, a founding member of the Australian Association for Dance Education (AADE, now Ausdance), has died in Melbourne at the age of 84.

Warren’s role in establishing Ausdance was as a dance educator, who, along with his friends Shirley McKechnie AO and Dame Peggy van Praagh, recognised the vital links between dance education and dance practice during the four University of New England Summer Schools of Dance between 1967 and 1976. The seeds of the AADE were first sown at these summer schools, where Warren, Shirley and Keith Bain were members of the faculty, and Dame Peggy presided over some of the celebrated choreographic workshops. During this decade, Warren also led the Victorian component of the National Inquiry into Arts in Education, sponsored by the Australia Council. Read more 

At AADE’s inaugural conference in 1977, Warren presented a paper on dance education in Australia entitled Major Issues, where he canvassed ideas such as the need to find a ‘new articulation of dance to the broader community’. Other issues included finding and acknowledging innovation in dance, the further education of dancers and dance teachers, dancers’ transition, defining the role of performing arts companies, and the need to ensure the diversity of dance in schools. All of these became core goals of AADE, central to the organisation’s political advocacy and its representation to decision makers.

In his Editor’s Note in the 1977 conference papers, Warren reported that ‘At the time of printing (March 1978) the AADE is alive and flourishing with a National Committee and a Committee in every State and Territory of the country, with a general membership of approximately 600.’ As the first National President, Warren had contributed significantly to this impressive early progress.

Warren later became a very influential President of AADE Victoria from 1984–1990. In his 1987 introduction to the 10th-anniversary edition of Kinesis(the Victorian newsletter), Warren wrote that ‘The AADE has achieved a national dance network which is unique in its vision and representation, and outstanding for its commitment and hard work’. He was a strong advocate for keeping the word ‘education’ in the organisation’s name when it changed to Ausdance in 1992 because he considered education in its broadest sense as its core business. However, he did eventually accept the name change to Ausdance (suggested by Keith Bain).

Warren had a 25-year career at La Trobe University from 1971-1996, where he became Dean of Education and introduced the graduate counsellor training program for counsellors and counselling psychologists. He worked as a counsellor in private practice, as a consultant to organisations, and was a Director of the Melbourne Institute for Experiential and Creative Arts Therapy (MIECAT). 

Warren’sresearch output was enormous and included a seminal paper presented at the 1982 AADE conference, Dance in Schools and Communities: The Inescapable Connection, which neatly summed up many of his earlier observations and his dance education research. He also produced a book called How the Arts Make a Difference in Therapy, published by Ausdance Victoria in 1993.

The links between teaching, training, research, writing, counselling practice and innovation was always a feature of Warren’s professional work, and his lifelong vision and commitment to dance and dance education will be a permanent legacy.

Dame Margaret Scott AC, DBE, OBE, was the founding director of The Australian Ballet School. Maggie, as she preferred to be known, steered the development of the School from 1964, with the arrival of the first intake of students, until 1990. The Australian Ballet and The Australian Ballet School will be farewelling Dame Margaret at a memorial at 12 pm, Friday 15 March, at Arts Centre Melbourne, State Theatre.  A number of speakers – including Graeme Murphy, Marilyn Rowe, David McAllister, Lisa Pavane and Colin Peasley – will pay tribute to Dame Margaret; there will also be short performances by the company and the school.

Over 27 years she planned curriculum, auditioned students, selected teachers, agonised over student welfare, encouraged emerging choreographers, and thrived on what she called “creative change”. 
Read on >>

Prudence Bowen - Former RAD examiner, registered teacher and the life member
Prue was a dedicated and gifted teacher who trained RAD students for many years through her well-known schools Ecole Classique School of Classical Ballet and Atelier Australia. She has greatly contributed to the Royal Academy of Dance and to dance, both in Australia and internationally.
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