The Australian Youth Dance Festival experience

In This Article

Taking place in a supportive, non-competitive environment that encourages learning, the Australian Youth Dance Festival (AYDF) allows young people to engage in creative exchange with professional dancers, choreographers, and their peers.

The following collection of festival experiences highlights the social, cultural and educational value of dance for young people, their teachers and choreographic mentors.

Ausdance National created the Australian Youth Dance Festival. At the time, 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).

The AYDF now travels between states approximately every 2–3 years. The festival retains a core structure and purpose at each location; inherent in this is engagement with the local community that hosts the event.

In 2006, Ausdance Victoria hosted the festival in Horsham, Victoria. In 2009, Ausdance WA present 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.


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).

Diedre Atkinson’s 2006 Australian Youth Dance Festival experience

Diedre Atkinson, a teacher at John Curtain College of the Arts, accompanied her students to several Australian Youth Dance Festivals. She described the AYDF as "an irreplaceable experience in the students’ development and discovery of dance. Total immersion in dance through participation in workshops, choreographic process, observation, performances, reflection and evaluation results in an intensive learning experience, and opens eyes wide to so many more possibilities".

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!

Nubrico Youth Dance at the 2006 Australian Youth Dance Festival

Tracey Brown and Sharon Teear, youth dance leaders from UK's Rubicon Dance, discuss their time at the 2006 Australian Youth Dance Festival with their youth dance group Nubrico.

The festival was great in exploring, sharing and learning different dance styles as well as sharing our passion for dance. Having the chance to go to Australia has been a fantastic experience for me and one that I will never forget! – Sophie

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.