National Dance Forum 2017

The 2017 National Dance Forum brought together makers, producers and presenters to discuss and share knowledge on current digital practices and technological developments. The two-day forum focused on strengthening the dance sector’s capacity within the digital domain. It engaged artists in developing and sharing skills in this environment.

The fourth National Dance Forum (NDF2017) took place from 25–26 September 2017 at the Victorian College of the Arts in Melbourne, Victoria.

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Dance in the digital domain. National Dance Forum, 25–26 September 2017, Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne

Artists are asking ‘how can I expand my audiences and get my work out there more? What are the mechanisms?’

We know the sector wants a chance to share, inspire, connect and to be inspired by the whole of dance industry—that includes the broader ecology, from independents to majors—and not remain isolated with static audience numbers.


In recent years, the NDF has been a key event for many artists to touch base with other artists from across Australia to discuss practice, keep up to date on industry trends and extend knowledge. Significantly, the forums have also provided a platform for artists to help understand their positioning within the larger Australian dance context, to strengthen ties across the dance industry, and to have a robust conversation about industry-wide issues. — Elizabeth Vilmanis, co-founder and moderator, Brisbane Dance Artists Hub 


View the National Dance Forum 2017 schedule & directory.

National Dance Forum 2017 program (61 KB PDF).


A key deliverable of the NDF was the development of a digital futures agenda for the dance sector, using the NDF as the impetus and platform for sector-wide conversation and action, led by Ausdance National.

This central theme of NDF2017 investigated how we work in a digital age while exploring the best innovative practice possible to ‘make’ and distribute dance work to a wider audience. The digital age calls for a discussion on ways to provide more access to more Australians to see and experience dance in the virtual realm.

NDF 2017 addressed four key questions:

  • How do we approach or adapt artistic practice to take advantage of new digital technology, and use it to create meaning? Or is technology an art form in its own right?
  • How is work curated and created for digital distribution?
  • How can artists expand their reach to new and existing audiences?
  • What can we take from other industries that have successfully (or unsuccessfully) navigated digital disruption and/or developed an effective digital futures agenda?

Keynote speakers

Keynote speakers: Wesley Enoch, Sue Healey, David Throsby, Kim Vincs, Matt Delbridge

Wesley Enoch

Wesley gave the first keynote address, placing dance in a wide cultural context and providing provocation about the place of dance and dance makers in our cultural landscape.

Wesley Enoch is the Director of the Sydney Festival. He has been a theatre director/writer for over 25 years specialising in Aboriginal Theatre. Wesley has been Artistic Director of Queensland Theatre Company 2010–15, Ilbijerri 2003–06 and Kooemba Jdarra 1994–97; Resident Director at Sydney Theatre Company 2000–01; Associate Artistic Director Company B Belvoir 2007–10, and he worked on the Opening Ceremony of the 2006 Commonwealth Games. Wesley has worked with all the large theatre companies, arts centres and festivals in Australia and won multiple awards. Wesley was a Trustee of the Sydney Opera House 2006–13 and is the Chair of the ATSI Strategy Panel for the Australia Council.

Dr Kim Vincs 

Kim gave the second keynote address which focused on an exploration and scan of the creative technology intersection—from entering into the digital age and beyond.

Kim Vincs is Professor of Interactive Media, and Research Director within the Department of Film and Animation at Swinburne University of Technology. She is a leading creative arts researcher with six Australian Research Council grants, 35+ industry partnerships, and 20+ arts/science collaborations across fields including dance, motion capture, game development, robotics, haptics, app design, 3D stereoscopy, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, augmented reality, cognitive psychology, biomechanics, mathematics, architecture and exercise science. She has been a choreographer for over 20 years, has created 18 dance technology and digital artworks. Her industry partnerships include national and international companies such as Autodesk, Motion Analysis, Act3animation, Iloura, Alt.vfx, Arts Access Victoria, Victorian Opera and Australian Dance Theatre. She has commercial motion capture credits for several computer games, television commercials and film projects, including the Cannes Silver Lion winning Nocturnal Migration. She is currently developing a new centre for Transformative Media Technologies at Swinburne University of Technology with Professor Angela Ngdalianis.

Distinguished Professor David Throsby AO

David presented as part the third keynote which focusesed on digital distribution and its impact on attendance at Live events, business models for streaming on demand, YouTube models of content generation and understanding consumer behaviour.

David is a Distinguished Professor in the Department of Economics at Macquarie University. He is internationally known for his work as an economist with specialist interests in the economics of the arts and culture.

David is internationally recognised for his research and writing on the economics of art and culture. His current research interests include the economic circumstances of creative artists, culture in sustainable economic development, heritage economics, the creative industries, and the relationships between economic and cultural policy. His recent books include Economics and Culture (2001) and The Economics of Cultural Policy (2010), both published by Cambridge University Press. In 2004 he was involved in an international research project on dancers’ transition, and published a short monograph Dance in Australia: A Profile.

Associate Professor Matt Delbridge

Matt talked about 'designing creativity' in a session that highlights how the creative process in the digital domain often draws on design thinking, creative catalysts, and even adventures in other dimensions.

Matt is Head of Theatre at the Victorian College of the Arts. He regularly designs for Split Britches (US/UK), consults and delivers masterclasses in Motion Capture and Digital Performance environments in Scandinavia, Europe and Asia, and is an Adjunct Professor in the School of Creative Media, City University Hong Kong. His book 'Motion Capture in Performance: An Introduction' was released in 2015 .

Sue Healey

Sue Healey is a Sydney-based choreographer, filmmaker and installation artist. Her work investigates the potential that lies at the shifting boundaries between disciplines, and the revelations that are sparked at those intersections. Critically, movement is at the heart of each of the works. 

Experimenting with form and perception, Healey creates dance for diverse spaces and contexts: theatres, galleries and the camera. Her work has toured to Asia, USA, UK and throughout Australia and New Zealand. Healey received a Creative Fellowship in 2014 from the Australia Council for Arts, and was made an Honorary Fellow of the Victorian College of the Arts, University of Melbourne 2015. Her films are widely acclaimed and have won awards including five Australian Dance Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Dance on Film/New Media and Independent Dance, winner Reeldance Australia and winner Il Coreografo Elettronico, Napolidanza, Italy. She has created ten major films with cinematographer Judd Overton, her key film collaborator. Her 2017 films include En Route for the new Wynscreen public art project at Wynyard train station and City as Portrait Gallery currently being exhibited at the Customshouse, Circular Quay. Sue is currently filming and creating On View: Asia, a major performance and film installation, produced by West Kowloon Cultural District Authority in Hong Kong and Taiwan in 2017/2019. She recently choreographed for the New Zealand Dance Company ‘Kiss the Sky’ season in Auckland June 2017.

The forum was facilitated by Professor Gene Moyle. 

Advisory panel

An advisory panel assisted in supporting Ausdance National and the NDF curator in the development and delivery of this event. The advisory panel included Gene Moyle (Ausdance National President), Shane Carroll (independent advisor), Michelle Silby (Executive Director, Ausdance VIC), Merindah Donnelly (CEO, BlakDance), Lizzie Vilmanis (Independent Artist/Ausdance QLD), Paul Selwyn-Norton (Director, STRUT Dance WA), Monica Stevens (independent artist/BlakDance Elder) and Julie Dyson (peak body representative, Ausdance National). 

Academic advisors and contributors included Professor Kim Vincs (Swinburne) and Dr Jordan Beth Vincent (Deakin Motion Lab).


The NDF was curated by Helen Simondson who is the current Acting Head of Public and Education Programs at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI). She was supported by Shane Carroll from the advisory panel.

Project partners and funding

Ausdance Victoria produced the NDF2017 event. This project was assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.

National Dance Forum image by Sydney Dance Company. Gideon Obarzanek’s L’Chaim! Photo by Wendell Teodoro.

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