1977 Dance Education Conference Papers edited talks and discussions from the Dance Education Conference 1977

In This Article

The Dance Education Conference was held 12–15 August 1977 in Melbourne at the Melbourne Town House, 701 Swanston Street, Carlton. 

For many of those attending, it was a life-changing experience—such breadth and depth of knowledge of dance in one room!

The Australian Association for Dance Education (AADE), now Ausdance, was launched at this conference in 1977.

The background and experience of its founders is largely reflected in the organisation 40 years later:

  • Dame Peggy van Praagh was founding artistic director of The Australian Ballet
  • Shirley McKechnie was a contemporary dance artist, teacher and choreographer who had recently founded Australia’s first tertiary dance course
  • Hanny Exiner was a former Bodenwieser dancer, teacher and educator
  • Warren Lett was a scholar and dance educator
  • Keith Bain was a former Bodenwieser dancer and Movement Director at NIDA
  • Donna Greaves was the dance officer at the Australia Council. 

The papers are an edited version of the talks and discussions held at the conference. At the time of printing (March 1978) the Australian Association for Dance Education (now Ausdance) was 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.

Published by the Australian Association for Dance Education and edited by Warren Lett and Shirley McKechnie. 

Ausdance acknowledges the contributions of sponsors: The Melbourne Age, the Victorian Arts Ministry, the Australia Council and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, for their generous support for the conference and particularly to the Gulbenkiah Foundation for assisting with this publication.

Ausdance foundersAusdance (Australian Association for Dance Education) founders Hanny Exiner, Warren Lett, Peter Brinson, Shirley McKechnie, Keith Bain.


Section 1: Dance education in Australia.

  1. Major issues—Warren Lett
  2. Dance companies in Australia—Donna Greaves
  3. Description of the status quo—Shirley McKechnie

Section 2

  1. Dance in education: An overview—Peter Brinson


  1. Bringing artists and the community together—Elizabeth Sweating


Section 3: The training of the dance artist

  1. Margaret Scott—Australian Ballet School
  2. Anne Woolliams—Australian Ballet Company
  3. Nanette Hassell—Dance Exchange
  4. Margaret Walker—Dance Concert
  5. Donna Greaves—R.M.I.T.
  6. Ron Becker—Melbourne State Dance Theatre
  7. Peter Brinson—Commentary


Section 4: Dance in the arts curriculum

  1. A View from the field of early childhood—Johanna Exiner
  2. Dance as aesthetic education—Judith Osbourne
  3. Dance in the curriculum—Shirley McKechnie
  4. Dance in the curriculum—Helen Oysten


Section 5: Teacher education in dance and movement

  1. The viewpoint of a classical ballet teacher—Athol Willoughby
  2. Advanced professional training—Garth Welch
  3. Dance and dance education in Queensland—Anne Silvey
  4. Teacher training in the curriculum—Shirley McKechnie


Section 6

  1. Group reports on critical issues
  2. General discussion
  3. Future Directions—Peter Brinson