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National forum considers future of Australian dance

National forum considers future of Australian dance
March 17, 2011

The Australia Council for the Arts and Ausdance National are combining forces to present the National Dance Forum this weekend in Melbourne.

The first event of its kind for many years, the National Dance Forum gathers together some of Australia's most exciting dancers, choreographers, curators, critics and producers in a lively discussion over two days at the Arts House, North Melbourne Town Hall. It provides a rare opportunity for the dance sector to consider the state of dance practice in Australia and chart a course for the future.

Dance topics to be explored include how to articulate a dance practice, career development, dramaturgy, new media and the digital technologies, hybrid and interdisciplinary practice, dance on film and dance in local communities.

Carin Mistry, Australia Council's Director of Dance explains "we will be asking the hard questions about contemporary Australian dance practice such as is our work good enough and are we ready to engage creatively with the broadband revolution?

"The Australian dance sector is, relatively speaking, quite small, meaning that many artists and companies work in isolation, but dance is fundamentally a collaborative medium and artists inspire and push each other on. Connecting with other artists across the country and across the world in an event like this helps to avoid the danger of our dance practice becoming insular and complacent."

Jeff Khan, Associate Director at Performance Space, Sydney, and former Director of the Next Wave Festival, chairs a session focusing specifically on hybrid solutions; discussing the challenges of creating and presenting work which combines dance with architecture, installation, visual arts, video or theatre.

Acclaimed Queensland choreographer and dancer Brian Lucas leads a session investigating the value of dramaturges and ï¾the outsider's eye' in the development of a dance work; while Chunky Move's Gideon Obarzanek is joined by sound artist Robin Fox and others, asking how the integration of body and technology shifts the relationship between performer and audience.

Mistry adds "technology in dance is commonplace now, as is the crossover with other artforms. It can add new dimension to a performance and the experience of watching dance, but the balance between performance, storytelling, technology and audience connection is a fragile one and this is a crucial focus of the forum."

Keynote discussions will form a highlight of the forum. Force Majeure's Kate Champion features in conversation with Chrissy Sharp, Director of the Wheeler Centre for Books, Writing and Ideas and Chair of the Australia Council's Dance Board. Other conversations include Indigenous dance leader Raymond Blanco in conversation with dance curator, Lee Christofis, and Thai dance artist Pichet Klunchun in conversation with dramaturge, critic and festival organiser Tang Fu Kuen.

The already sold out forum is set amongst the backdrop of Dance Massive, a two-week event in Melbourne that involves over 200 Australian dance artists in performances and workshops. Dance Massive is supported by the Australia Council and is attended by a large group of national and international presenters.

The National Dance Forum is being held at the Arts House, North Melbourne Town Hall on in Melbourne, Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th March 2010.

It is a partnership between the Australia Council for the Arts and Ausdance National.

For more information go to

Image of Ben-Hancock courtesy of Byron Perry Dance.

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