Careers in dance

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    Have dance makers become timid in our role as storytellers?

    Artists are often at the forefront of new waves of socio-political change. Whether you’re talking about the birth of democracy or the recent #metoo campaign, we’re usually there, agitating or at least sparking discussion. But in a country where arts funding is under near-constant threat and the fight for audience attention is fierce, are we as brave as used to be? In the recent Nick Enright keynote address Australian playwright/provocateur Wesley Enoch made a case for no. Australian artists, he said, were ‘too concerned with upsetting audiences, politicians, sponsors, donors, funders, we have become timid in our role as storytellers.’ So, what about dance? Have we absconded our duty?

    Recommendations arising from the Safe Dance IV research project

    In professional dance, as with all physical and athletic endeavours, there will always be a realistic expectation of some musculoskeletal complaints. The information gathered through the Safe Dance research studies develops a better understanding of the changing profile of professional dancers in Australia and their experience of injury. The findings can be used to assist in the tailoring and evaluation of evidence based injury prevention initiatives with the long-term goal of safely sustaining dancers in their professional dance careers for as long as they choose.

    The Big 4-0!

    The Big 4-0! While turning the big 40 can provoke anxiety, soul-searching and the purchase of sports cars in humans, for an organisation to reach this marker is a cause for unadulterated celebration. This year marks this milestone for Ausdance, Australia’s national body for dance advocacy, education and outreach. First established in 1977 as the Australian Association for Dance Education (AADE) in Melbourne, Ausdance’s mission was to provide a united voice for Australia’s burgeoning dance community. Over these last four decades the accomplishments of Ausdance have been as varied as they have been numerous but the goal has remained the same: to educate, inspire and support the dance community to reach its potential as a dynamic force within local, national and international spheres.

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    Sustainable careers for dance artists

    The dancer’s performing life is highly focused, demanding dedicated vocational training from an early age, and it depends on time-consuming creative and physical regimes. Dance artists, in contrast with other artists, are particularly challenged when it comes to professional career development.

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    2019 Australian Dance Awards

    The annual Australian Dance Awards recognise and honour professional Australian dance artists who have made an outstanding contribution to Australian dance. The Awards:

    • acknowledge the depth and diversity of the dance profession in our society.
    • reward those whose achievements raise the standards, profile and prestige of dance in Australia.
    • present a performance program representing the excellence and diversity of both innovative and established dance in Australia.

    2019 National Dance Forum

    The NDF is the most significant platform for dialogue across the Australian contemporary dance sector. Dancers, makers, researchers, writers, directors, producers, advocates and educators participate in discussions about the inherent concerns and realities affecting current professional practice in Australia.

    2018 Australian Dance Awards

    The annual Australian Dance Awards recognise and honour professional Australian dance artists who have made an outstanding contribution to Australian dance.
    The Awards:

    • acknowledge the depth and diversity of the dance profession in our society.
    • reward those whose achievements raise the standards, profile and prestige of dance in Australia.
    • present a performance program representing the excellence and diversity of both innovative and established dance in Australia.

    Ensure employer-sponsored skilled visa programs advance the Australian dance sector

    International arts appointments can contribute artistic excellence to the Australian dance and cultural sector. 

    We are working to ensure the specific artistic expertise and knowledge contributed by international experience can continue to advance the Australian dance sector.

    We are asking for dance occupations to be moved to the Medium and Long Term Strategic Skills List to support the long-term artistic commitments often required for international engagement of elite dance artists.

    Keith Bain Choreographic Travel Fellowship

    The biennial Keith Bain Choreographic Travel Fellowship supports international travel and experiences by emerging choreographers (under 40 years) across any dance genre.

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    Creative Ageing Forum pack

    On Monday 29 October, Ausdance NSW held the ‘Creative Ageing Forum’. We consulted with our sector and brought together a cross-section of academics, producers and program providers to discuss their current practice and the challenges working within this rapidly growing sector of the Australian population.

    Ausdance National newsletter

    Published every two months, and themed around an event or popular dance topic, our email newsletter reflects on professional dance practice and shares ways for you to get involved.

    Brolga 40

    Articles in this issue explore ideas that relate to improvisation as it has been experienced in a practical, bodily way.

    Marchant’s article Dance Improvisation: Why warm up at all? considers what takes place before improvising begins, while warming up. In Improcinemaniac, Reid describes her simultaneous practice of screendance and improvisation. Reid uses language that is deliberately poetic, and deconstructs and reassembles words in order to question or reconfigure meanings, particularly those of conventional dance language. Using improvisational play with light and lens is also described by Wilson who applies a deeply embodied approach, developed over years working as a dancer, to her visual art practice in experimental photography. Millard’s What’s the score? explores the use of scores or verbal propositions as supports for dance improvisation. In Gaps in the Body, Fraser writes of having arrived at an understanding of improvisation that, rather than being about moving, is about ‘attention’. McLeod’s article, The Ethos of the Mover/Witness Dyad, describes the response of an invited public to a performative Authentic Movement event over three evenings.

    Dancehouse Diary

    The Dancehouse Diary aims to bring the independent dance makers’ thinking to wider audiences. It aims at developing rigorous content around their work and triggering new perspectives and connections around their research. It is a catalyst for provoking critical thinking, discourse and a poetic vision of dance and other related arts forms. It is Dancehouse’s mission to cultivate access and appreciation of this art form and for that, the Diary is a less ephemeral and a more in-­depth attempt to make those connections.

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    National Dance Forum 2019

    Led by the dance sector’s peak advocacy organisation—Ausdance National—the fifth National Dance Forum will take place in Darwin on 9 and 10 August 2019. Tracks Dance Company will present the forum alongside the Australian Dance Awards in August 2019. These events will coincide with the Darwin Festival.

    The National Dance Forum brings together makers, educators, producers and presenters to discuss and share knowledge on current practices. The two-day forum focuses on strengthening the dance sector’s capacity and it engages artists in developing and sharing skills.

    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 

    Lewis Major receives Keith Bain Choreographic Travel Fellowship

    At the 21st Australian Dance Awards (8 September 2018), Ausdance National awarded the Keith Bain Choreographic Travel Fellowship to Lewis Major. The fellowship provides financial assistance for an emerging choreographer to travel internationally with the sole purpose of developing and extending their choreographic practice.

    Lewis has designed a program of mentorship and career development activities designed to build his professional networks and further develop skills in dramaturgy, choreography and independent producing in an international context. The program includes activities to strengthen his choreographic and broader artistic development and practice by facilitating face-to-face dialogue and creative output with international artistic collaborators.

    Lewis will travel to Israel, Taiwan and Europe.

    Lewis Major

    Being raised in the rural heart of the Antipodes, there was a scarcity of art being made available to regional audiences as I was growing up. Hence, as an emerging artist, I am passionate about making dance accessible; strongly believing that intelligence in art and its relevance to audiences is fundamental in its power to enact change.

    View recent choreography from Lewis Major on Vimeo.

    Lewis Major in performance

    Lewis Major is an award-winning choreographer, dancer and creative entrepreneur based in the deep south of regional South Australia. Not having set foot in a theatre until his mid-teens, he finds it ironic to now be working in the most maligned and misunderstood sector of the arts industry: contemporary dance.

    He is the only dance artist he’s ever heard of who can both shear a sheep, has danced with Hugh Jackman and travelled to all three axis-of-evil countries. His work is invested in the potential of choreography and performance to inform a cultural discourse of sorts and to enable affective experiences.

    As a performer and dance maker, he has worked with and alongside Akram Khan, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Russell Maliphant, Shaun Parker, Hans van Den Broeck/Cie Soit and Australian Dance Theatre. He was a founding member of Aakash Odedra Company. With an extensive back catalogue of choreographies, he has created and staged his own work on six continents.

    Alongside his choreographic work, Lewis is dedicated to mentoring and supporting young male dancers from regional and less privileged areas of Australia. He has the sole rights in South Australia to Shaun Parker’s outdoor work, TROLLEYS, and has toured it to regional areas in the South East of SA, with a secondee program running alongside for regionally based dancers. He has also initiated collaborations and an exchange program between dance students in Taiwan and South Australia. He is currently setting up a not-for-profit artist in residence creative hub and art hotel in Adelaide, with the profits being funneled back into supporting creative practice in state.

    Athol Willoughby OAM to receive the 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award

    The Australian Dance Awards committee has announced the Lifetime Achievement Award for 2018 will be presented to Athol Willoughby, OAM, in recognition of his exceptional contribution to the dance profession in Australia for over 65 years.

    Willoughby has had a long and distinguished career as one of Australia’s leading ballet dancers and teachers, connecting him with significant developments in mid-century Australian ballet and with major figures such as Walter Gore and Valrene Tweedie, and as an adjudicator and examiner for Cecchetti Ballet Australia.

    Athol WilloughbyAthol Willoughby, OAM. Photographer: Michela Dent-Causon

    Willoughby’s introduction to dance came when, as a young boy, he had a job sweeping out a cinema in Hobart prior to weekend screenings. He can still recall the excitement of seeing the stars of Hollywood musicals on screen—Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly were among them. But the real start of his long and illustrious career as a dancer, teacher, examiner, adjudicator and mentor came when, by chance, he was sitting next to a priest in the Theatre Royal in Hobart during a performance by the Borovansky Ballet. The priest arranged a meeting for him with local ballet teacher Beattie Jordan. Willoughby never saw the priest again but Jordan accepted him as a pupil and set him on his career path.  

    Later Willoughby was thrilled by performances in Hobart by the Melbourne-based National Theatre Ballet and made the decision to move to Melbourne where he was taught by esteemed Cecchetti teacher Lucie Saranova. He eventually joined National Theatre Ballet and performed with them, dancing in particular the repertoire of two directors of the company, Walter Gore and Valrene Tweedie. In 1958 Willoughby left for London where he joined Peter Darrell’s Western Theatre Ballet.

    Dancers on stageValrene Tweedie and Athol Willoughby in Le coq d'or. National Theatre Ballet 1955. Photo: Walter Stringer.

    In Melbourne Willoughby had begun teaching and, in the 1950s, had gained Cecchetti qualifications. On his return from England he took up teaching again, largely in regional Victoria. But his work as an educator and mentor began in earnest in 1963 when he bought the Essendon Academy of Ballet, where he was director until his retirement in 1997. He also returned to the stage as a guest artist with The Australian Ballet in Anne Woolliams’ Swan Lake and Graeme Murphy’s Nutcracker.

    The students whose careers the charismatic Willoughby nurtured have gone on to dance across the world, have become teachers and examiners, and have had their lives enriched by his continued service to dance, in particular to the Cecchetti approach to ballet. But he is nevertheless humble enough to say, ‘I was just there to try to teach them classical ballet correctly—I like to see it done correctly—and with discipline.’

    In 2017 Willoughby celebrated his 85th birthday and his Lifetime Achievement award is formal recognition by the dance community of his extraordinary contribution.

    Apply for Sydney Dance Company Pre-Professional Year Program 2019

    Calling all aspiring professional dancers aged 18–24 years, applications are now open for Sydney Dance Company's Pre-Professional Year 2019.

    “Sydney Dance Company’s Pre-Professional Year is an outstanding opportunity for aspiring dancers to gain exposure to Australia’s leading contemporary dance company. Pre-professional dancers will develop all the skills essential for a lifelong career in contemporary dance as well as being provided with unique professional development, networking and mentorship opportunities under the guidance of the artistic staff of Sydney Dance Company.” Rafael Bonachela, Artistic Director, Sydney Dance Company

    Key information

    Applications are
 open to Australian and New Zealand citizens or permanent residents only.

    Application closing date: 
Monday 27 August 2018 

    Audition: The first round of Pre-Professional Year auditions will be an online application process that includes a video submission.

    Successful first round applicants will be invited to a second round in-person audition at Sydney Dance Company Studios on 17 September 2018 between 9am and 6pm.

    For more information please visit 2019 Pre-Professional Year Audition Application.

    Congratulations to the shortlisted nominees of the 21st Australian Dance Awards

    Celebrating 21 years, the Australian Dance Awards is one of the country’s most prestigious performing arts awards. The Awards acknowledge people working in the professional dance sector who have made innovative and exceptional work of national significance, or have made an outstanding and enduring contribution to the dance industry.

    ‘Arriving at the shortlist is a demanding job for the volunteer panel of 13 dance sector professionals representing all states and territories’, said Julie Dyson, nominations coordinator for the 2018 Australian Dance Awards.

    ‘Panel members include educators, independent artists, dance company directors, and writers/reviewers. We receive between 450 and 700 nominations each year. A thorough voting system is in place, with two, sometimes three rounds of voting.’

    Presented by Ausdance National, the 2018 awards will take place on Saturday 8 September at the Brisbane Powerhouse, with tickets on sale from 9 July.

    ‘Ausdance National is honoured to present the 21st Australian Dance Awards in partnership with industry sponsors’, said Kerry Comerford, Executive Director of Ausdance National. ‘The Awards ceremony is the time we acknowledge and celebrate the dance profession’s depth and diversity, both on and off the stage.’

    Presented in an afternoon of performances showcasing some of Australia’s best dance of the past year, the annual Australian Dance Awards rely on the generosity and goodwill of the dance sector. ‘It’s important that the event represents the excellence and diversity of dance in Australia’ said Sandi Woo, 2018 Award’s producer.

    2018 Australian Dance Awards shortlist

    Services to Dance

    • Philippe Charluet
    • Marilyn Miller
    • Philip Piggin
    • Hilary Trotter

    Services to Dance Education

    • Paige Gordon
    • Raewyn Hill
    • Sinsa Mansell
    • Katrina Rank

    Outstanding Achievement in Community Dance

    • Annette Carmichael (choreography), James Gentle (sound design) for The Beauty Index
    • Tracks Dance for Man Made
    • QPAC, The Royal Ballet and Community Groups for We All Dance
    • Sprung!! Integrated Dance Theatre for Share House

    Outstanding Achievement in Youth Dance

    • Austinmer Dance Theatre for UNREAL
    • Co3 for Project next
    • QL2 Dance for This Poisoned Sea
    • Moorambilla Voices for Gundabooka

    Outstanding Performance by a Company

    • Co3 for The Zone
    • Dancenorth Attractor
    • STRUT Dance for William Forsythe's One Flat Thing, Reproduced
    • Queensland Ballet for Raw (triple bill): No Man’s Land, Glass Concerto and Ghost Dances

    Outstanding Achievement in Choreography

    • Lucy Guerin and Gideon Obarzanek for Attractor (Dancenorth and Lucy Guerin Inc)
    • Raewyn Hill for The Zone (Co3)
    • Stephanie Lake for Pile of Bones (Stephanie Lake Company)
    • Stephen Page for Bennelong (2017) (Bangarra Dance Theatre)

    Outstanding Achievement in Independent Dance

    • Martin del Amo for CHAMPIONS
    • Australian Dance Artists for Restraint(s)
    • Michelle Heaven for In Plan
    • Nick Power (choreography), Jack Prest (sound design) for Between Tiny Cities រវាងទីក្រុងតូច

    Outstanding Performance by a Female Dancer

    • Jana Castillo for construct (Australian Dance Theatre)
    • Amber Haines for Spectra (Dancenorth)
    • Ako Kondo for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (The Australian Ballet)
    • Charmene Yap for Ocho (Sydney Dance Company)

    Outstanding Performance by a Male Dancer

    • Richard Causer for Behind Closed Doors (Expressions Dance Company)
    • Nelson Earl for Ocho (Sydney Dance Company)
    • Beau Dean Riley Smith for Bennelong (2017) (Bangarra Dance Theatre)
    • Kimball Wong for construct (Australian Dance Theatre)

    Outstanding Achievement in Commercial Dance, Musicals or Physical Theatre

    • Gravity & Other Myths for BACKBONE
    • Michael Ralph for SELF
    • Andrew Hallsworth for Muriel’s Wedding (Sydney Theatre Company and Global Creatures)
    • Nicola Gunn and Jo Lloyd for Piece for Person and Ghetto Blaster

    Outstanding Achievement in Dance on Film or New Media

    • Richard James Allen for Enchant
    • Sophia Bender for Behind Barres
    • Sue Healey for Eileen
    • Catherine Moore & Jade Lowry for Unstilled

    2018 Australian Dance Awards shortlist media release (50 KB PDF)

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