What’s one of the biggest mass participation exercises in the ACT? What sort of physical exercise is performed by young and old alike, across multiple different forms and from every imaginable background and on every night of the week in this multicultural city of ours?
It’s dance. Participation rates in the art form are higher here than almost anywhere else in the country. Across Canberra, suburban halls, concert venues, studios and community halls are bursting at the seams with locals who are tapping, rocking, hip-hopping, swinging and rocking and rolling.
Dance Week, launched by Arts Minister Gordon Ramsay, happens this week and for Alison Plevey from the contemporary Australian Dance Party, it couldn’t be a better time to use art in the service of the community.
“Dance for us is really about communicating and connecting with an audience beyond the everyday art-going crowd,” she says. “It’s about using art to engage in contemporary issues and ideas. We use it to celebrate, analyse and contemplate.
“Canberra is a perfect place to do that contemplation through dance. We are very fortunate that we have a really rich dance community, incredibly diverse from Indian to swing to tap and contemporary dance and an incredible number of young people and dance styles active and thriving in the ACT.”
Plevey and the Australian Dance Party have used dance as a means to discuss everything from reducing plastic use to performing on a huge pink truck for the Art, Not Apart festival recently.
Among other local groups, Mirramu Creative Arts Centre is celebrating their 30-year anniversary and Dance on the Edge by the Belconnen Arts Centre is celebrating their 10th year of production.
The Sydney Dance Company will also be sharing their 50th anniversary with the ACT through a performance at the Canberra Theatre, featuring local artist Melanie Lane.
Dance Week celebrations include performances and classes throughout the week. Minister for the Arts and Cultural Events Gordon Ramsay said at the Ausdance launch that Dance Week, presented by Ausdance ACT, is “a spectacular celebration of all forms of dance by professional, community and social dancers of all ages. The ACT Government proudly supports Canberra’s arts organisations, including Ausdance ACT”.
“To me, dance is a universal language and has the power to change us,” Plevey says. “Dance Week 2019 is about celebration and connection – celebration of this incredible art form together as a community, in all its diversity.” Alison will perform with Australian Dance Party throughout the week, including at Belconnen Art Centre’s Dance on the Edge.
Dance Week performer, dance artist and teacher Gretel Burgess says, “I love the healing that dance can provide. Dance Week is a celebration of all bodies moving in and out of all dance forms.” Gretel’s work ‘Liability’ will be performed during Dance on the Edge at Belconnen Arts Centre.
Dance Week runs from 29 April to 5 May 2019. For more information about how to get involved, visit the Ausdance ACT Dance Week calendar.