A memorable year of dance ahead

Making memories for the young, preserving them for the elderly, dance has diverse powers.

Sandi Woo. Image by Kate Holmes from the No Difference project.

At what point in your life has a dance played an important role to you? Even if you aren’t a professional dancer, you will most likely have a memory of a dance – maybe with someone you loved. It is a question Ausdance Queensland is asking the elderly for the new project, All the dancing I have known, just one of the great projects Ausdance Queensland has on offer this year.

Executive Director Angela Chaplin explains: ‘This project will see us partnering professional dancers with older people, who may be in their homes or aged care facility. We will ask them to tell stories about dance and key moments in their life where dance has played an important part – and see if they can remember the dance that they did in that moment. We will have professional dancers dance with them as part of the process. Our long-term goal is to develop a script and a performance that will incorporate professional dancers, as well as older people in our community.’

Ausdance Queensland is the peak body for the dance industry in the state. Alongside the new project All the dancing I have known is a suite of other community initiatives, as well as professional development opportunities for contemporary dance artists.

‘We have a whole range of activity that engages with people on different levels and in different ways. This means we are there for everybody. It’s always been important to Ausdance Queensland to be there for the full range of its members,’ said Chaplin.

‘We see the community engagement activities complementing Ausdance Queensland’s role as a place for professional development. We are not in any way abandoning our work with professional dancers.’

Prying Eye’s The Inquisition of the Big Bad Wolf. Photo credit: Camile Nathania.

In 2017 the expanded program will allow room for both, beginning with the Queensland Dance Forum (QDF2017) at the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts on Wednesday 22 February 2017.

QDF2017 offers a valuable opportunity for industry members across the state to come together and start a dialogue about the future of dance in Queensland.

‘It’s rare for the dance community to have an opportunity to simply get together and engage with each other. We want to build on the gatherings of the past, including the previous Ausdance Qld engagements with the sector, and QDF 2017 will give us an occasion to do just that. It will be a chance to look to the future and also to celebrate our previous achievements as a sector,’ said Chaplin.

‘We invite anyone with a love of dance – whether you are a professional independent dance artist or a member of a community studio – to come along and participate in what will be a stimulating and fun afternoon.’

‘You also get to stay on for the 2017 Ausdance Queensland launch straight after the Forum!’

Find out more about QDF2017

QDF2017 will be a must for those working in the Queensland dance sector. It kicks off with a discussion on the theme Why Bother? by a panel comprising Kate Champion, Susan Gillingham, Rita Pryce and Sandi Woo. This will be followed by an interactive session called Grand Failures, where participants will be invited to embrace failure with Gavin Webber and Grayson Millwood from The Farm. They will both revel in their professional failures and how these moments informed their careers – because in the end, without failure we don’t grow. Everyone will get to share their failures via the Failure Tarot! Other speakers at the forum include Zaimon Vilmanis from Prying Eye and Expressions Dance Company Artistic Director Natalie Weir – with more speakers yet to be announced. The forum will finish with the ‘Why dance, Dance’. Together all participants will get to dance improvised choreography led by dancers under 10 years old. ‘I wanted to finish the event with us all remembering the joy of simply dancing for fun’ Chaplin remarked.

2017 launch and program

The future of dance in Queensland is set to develop in its diversity as reflected in Ausdance Queensland’s 2017 Program, which impresses with its breadth in potential audience and reach across the state of Queensland.

‘We’re interested in diversity in all its definitions. We are interested in diversity in the genre of dance, so we don’t just focus on one particular type of dance – we look at dance from different cultures, ballet, contemporary, modern dance and of course the dance of the original inhabitants of the land. All of those styles are represented in our membership and we create our program of activities to reflect our diverse membership and community in which we live. In 2017 we are also making sure that we are working in a diverse number of locations. Our definition of diversity extends to encompass different age groups, from the elderly to children.’

2017 marks the 25th anniversary of the incorporation of Ausdance Qld (although Ausdance has informally been in Queensland since 1977) and the organisation is off to a strong start after successfully securing increased core funding from Arts Queensland for the next four years. ‘One of the reasons we were successful in that is because we have a chock-a-block year full of activity and programs that go across the state.’

‘We are doing a lot of work in the regions this year, going up to far north Queensland, down south and towards the centre of Queensland as well. Running workshops in communities for professional dancers and community artists, and for young people,’ said Chaplin.

‘Ausdance Queensland has always been involved in the regions but we are pumping it up [this year], that’s for sure.’

Plans include programs in Townsville, Ingham and across to Mount Isa. The regional activities will include dance workshops for people of all ages and experience, career advice for aspiring professional dancers, and sessions for parents who want to know what they should look for in dance schools and dance workshops for their children.

The program will also bring young dancers into the city. ‘We are also undertaking a project this year called Get Outta of Town that will bring a group of young Indigenous people interested in dance to Brisbane to have a week of full on dance experience,’ said Chaplin.

‘The dance sector in Queensland, like most creative sectors, is made up of people who believe in access and equity. We understand that our differences contribute to the making of great art, and collaboration with the known and unknown is what leads you to new discoveries.’

Ausdance Queensland has also thrown their support behind the upcoming Supercell Dance Festival in Brisbane as a way to provide support for professional dancers. At the Festival, Ausdance Queensland will host a dance master class with internationally acclaimed creator Mate Meszaros with a focus on physicality.

‘We have a lot of professional development workshops this year that take advantage of the opportunity afforded by dance companies who visit Queensland. For example, when Bangarra visits we make sure people have an opportunity to work with Bangarra. Anyone who comes through town that we can grab, we grab – and turn it into a development opportunity for the sector,’ said Chaplin.

Ausdance Qld has a great legacy and we are hoping we can make an even greater future.

Queensland Dance Forum 2017 is on Wednesday 22 February from 12:30pm to 5:30pm at the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts.

Ausdance Qld 2017 Program Launch is on Wednesday 22 February from 5:30pm to 7:30pm (after QDF2017) at the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts.

Brooke Boland
About the Author
Brooke Boland is a freelance writer based on the South Coast of NSW. She has a PhD in literature from the University of NSW. You can find her on Instagram @southcoastwriter.