by Eation Xiao
Over a September weekend, the best of the Australian dance industry presented dance workshops, performances and dance competitions at Sydney Olympic Park. The Australian Dance Festival 2012 was a part of this year’s Sydney Fringe Festival.
“Dance is a kind of power in our hands, and dancing teaches us confidence,” said Jason Coleman, patron of the event.
On the first night, 15 groups from NSW, the ACT, Western Australia and Queensland, attended the contest ‘Australia’s Best Dance Crew’.
“Historically, we have shied away from introducing a competitive aspect to the event, as we don’t want to be in the business of saying one dance school is better than another. It also means that the judges for the competition will have easier time, as the competing teams will be dancing different styles so that we have a more diverse show,” Angela Lau, the director and founder of this event, said.
After two hours competition, Brent St (NSW) won the ‘Most Entertaining’ category, PAWS (NSW) got the title of ‘Best Choreography’, and Village Performing Arts claimed the ‘Most Technically Excellent’.
“We know that dance is subjective, and it can be controversial to say that one dance crew is better than another, so we are introducing a unique competition where dance teams won’t be competing to come first, second or third,” Angela said.
“My main goal is to educate and give the dancers the most inspiring weekend of their lives. I believe so much in the Australian dance Industry and feel blessed to be apart of this festival which celebrates all styles of dance and unites dancers from all over Australia,” Marko Panzic, the newly appointed artistic director for the 2012 Australian Dance Festival.
On the second afternoon, the Australian Dance Festival held an ‘Open Stage’ to celebrate the diversity of dance styles and body shapes. This is a concept suggested by Jason Coleman as he felt that is was important for every dance school to have the equal opportunity to be on the stage.
“One of the main aims of the Festival is to promote awareness of The Butterfly Foundation and the services it offers to people who suffer from eating disorders and negative body image,” Mr Coleman said.
One of the Festival highlights was the ‘Dance Around the World Solo Competition’ to recognise up and coming talent in the local dance industry. Fifteen dancers, who were chosen from special workshops, danced a 30- second solo on stage. Winner Kate Beattie received a return airfare to Los Angeles and 20 classes at the Edge Performing Arts Centre.
“She is different, she makes a style of her own, she has a big future,” said judge Joshua Horner.