Australian Youth Dance Festival

The Australian Youth Dance Festival provides creative development opportunities for young people at all skills levels. They work with some of the finest and most exciting dance makers in Australia. The experience provides professional dance artists with creative challenges, professional development and opportunities to work alongside their peers and with Australia's rising youth dance talent. Participants include school students, youth dance company members, full-time dance students and relative beginners in dance, as well as dance teachers, choreographers and youth dance leaders.

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'The Australian Youth Dance Festival is such a fantastic opportunity for dancers all over the country to come together in a non-competitive environment where they can meet other people, share their passion and learn from the country's best.' —2014 AYDF Artistic Director Adam Wheeler.

The 2019 Australia Youth Dance Festival 

Ausdance Victoria, in partnership with Youth Dance Australia, presents the Australian Youth Dance Festival – International 2019 (AYDF) in Melbourne, Australia, 7–12 July 2019.

For more information about the festival program and registration, please visit the AYDF website.

Previous Australian Youth Dance Festivals

The Australian Youth Dance Festival was created by Ausdance National. It was the nation’s first dance-specific festival for youth. Ausdance National devised and produced the first four festivals held in Darwin NT(1997), Townsville Qld (1999) and Armidale, NSW (2001 and 2004).

In 2006, Ausdance Victoria hosted the festival in Horsham, Victoria. In 2009, Ausdance WA presented the festival in Mandurah, WA. In 2012, Ausdance NSW hosted the festival in Gosford, NSW. And in 2014, Ausdance SA presented the festival in Renmark, SA. In 2017 the festival was held Melbourne and was produced by Ausdance Victoria.

The festival retains a core structure and purpose at each location; inherent in this is engagement with the local community that hosts the event.

The Australian Youth Dance Festival's unique structure allows young people to engage in creative exchange in a supportive, non-competitive environment that encourages participation and learning.

Ausdance: Australian Youth dance Festival 2014 on Vimeo.

Young people aged between 15 and 19 years from across Australia and overseas join together for a week of forums, workshops, choreographic activities and performances. The festival is led by a team of professional choreographers, artistic facilitators and dancers who coach the young people in a range of dance styles and choreographic processes.

This festival project provides important choreographic development opportunities for festival participants as well as the tutor/choreographers who are selected to mentor a collaborative site-specific project. Festival participants and choreographers work together each day of the festival to investigate ways of making performance celebrating various perspectives of the festival's place and environment. The process includes discussion, workshops in storytelling, performance making and Indigenous protocols.

Typical structure


  • Group presentations & discussion
  • Technique and taster classes (am)


  • Choreographic workshops to develop a large outdoor site-specific dance theatre work
  • Afternoon debrief


  • Performances by Australian youth dance companies and groups in the town's professional theatre.
  • On the final evening, the site-specific work is performed in front of a local audience.

Artistic and creative personnel

This festival depends heavily on the combined choreographic skills and experience of all participating tutors/mentors who lead participants in daily classes and the site-specific choreographic development project. An experienced festival facilitator oversees the entire festival and artistic directors facilitate the creation of a site-specific dance work.

  • 2017—Artistic directior Adam Wheeler
  • 2014—Artistic director and lead choreographer: Adam Wheeler. Composer: Alexander Waite Mitchell. Choreographic workshop leaders: Kristina Chan, Katrina Lazaroff, Larissa McGowan, Kialea Nadine-Williams, Frankie Snowdon, Sani Townson
  • 2012—Artistic director: Rowan Marchingo. Choreographers: Philip Channels, Vicki Van Hout, Kay Armstrong, Lee Pemberton, Ingrid Kleinig.
  • 2009—Artistic director: Claudia Alessi; choreographic and production team: Brooke Leeder, Sete Tele, Jacob Lehrer, Justina Truscott, Sophie Yesberg, Robert Griffin, Shannon Bott, Alexander Harrison, Marko Panzic, Adam Wheeler, Daniel Daw. Production manager: Andrew Chambers. Musician/composer: Kingsley Reeve.
  • 2006—Facilitator: Bec Reid (co-artistic director of Stompin Youth Dance Company). Artistic director for site-specific dance work: Mahony Maia Kiely. Associate facilitators/directors: David McMicken, Tim Newth (Tracks Dance Company) Composers: Tim Humphrey and Madeleine Flynn
  • 2004—Facilitator: Andrew Morrish. Choreographic advisers: Tim Newth and David McMicken (Tracks Dance Company). Choreographic mentors: Gerard Veltre, Morganics, Michael Hennessy, Jeanette Fabila, Darren Green, Bernie Bernard, Mariaa Randall, Bec Reid, Ruth Osborne and Kylie Ball. Cultural advisor: Fay Ball

Related Articles

AYDF 2012 video diary

If you’ve ever wondered what happens each day of the festival, this video diary from the last AYDF gives you a taste of the festival experience. How does it feel to perform in a professional theatre before your peers? What type of dance will we make with the choreographic mentors? What are the other dancers like? What will I learn? What is site-specific performance? What is it like being a choreographic mentor? Young dancers and their choreographic mentors answer these questions and more.

Festival participants and choreographic mentors discuss movement, meaning, collaboration and site-specific performance.

Foreshore dancing at the 2009 AYDF

It's standard Aussie holiday fare—families line the grassy foreshore, and picnics, cricket games and shrieking children abound. However, there are a few surprises in store along the foreshore on this particular Saturday. Scattered along the promenade are tents, caravans and campervans from a variety of eras, and 160 young dancers who dance in and around these temporary homes. This is Foreshore Cruisin', the performance that is the culmination of the 2009 Australian Youth Dance Festival (AYDF).

Chris Mason’s 2006 AYDF experience

Chris Mason was a student at Indooroopilly State High School in Brisbane when he attended the 2006 Australian Youth Dance Festival in Horsham, Victoria. He shares how the experience gave him 'interpretive ideas about how dance can be used to represent daily life' and allowed him to learn 'how to turn emotions into movements, and find ways to bring movement together to create a montage that represents who I am in relation to the rest of the world, and what I myself bring to it'. At the time of writing, he believed that the Festival experience made him more independent and confident, and contributed to clearer life goals.

Erin-Louise Nash’s 2006 AYDF diary

As soon as the lights and music started, I had this amazing feeling rush over me. It was then that I really knew that I was a part of something huge! Here I was, hours away from home, performing in a new town, right next to dancers from all over the country! Not only that, but I was dancing beside people from all different dance backgrounds and skill levels.

Both performances went so well that it was hard to believe we’d only choreographed the pieces a few days earlier. The show looked like we had been rehearsing together for months!