SPARKLES, sequins and stage kisses were everywhere on the “night of nights” on the Australian dance calendar, the annual Australian Dance Awards, held at The Playhouse in Canberra, as the audience was treated to performances by the West Australian Ballet, Ghenoa Gela, Broome dancer Dalisa Pigram and a lively number from “Candy Man,” to name a few.Canberra performer and broadcaster Andrea Close hosted the evening, presented by Ausdance and Harlequin Dance Floors, with the support of QL’s Ruth Osborne and Bearcage Productions. Winners were presented with a glass trophy created by artist Matthew Day Perez.
A Welcome to Country from Paul House was followed by a performance of QL2’s “Hit the floor together”, choreographed by Bangarra’s Daniel Riley McKinley. Footage shot at landmarks around Canberra and showcasing local dance talent set the tone for the evening, held in Canberra for the first time in this, its Centenary year.
Ronne Arnold was this year’s recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award. Born in Philadelphia, Arnold came to Australia in 1960 to perform in “West Side Story” and subsequently made Australia his home. He worked as a performer, choreographer and teacher, before founding the Australian Contemporary Dance Company. He developed a love and admiration for indigenous dance during this time and currently works at the Wesley Institute of Arts as a teacher.
In his acceptance speech, Arnold said “This – dance – is what I was born to do” and spoke of how proud he was to have a dance company in Australia. He also said that he was told that if he wanted to get money from the Government he’d better put “Australian” in the name of the company, advice he took on board.
The Ausdance Peggy van Praagh fellowship grant was presented to Kay Armstrong, to pursue her “mid-career choreography”.
“Eight to Eighty” won Outstanding Achievement in Youth or Community Dance, and a visibly moved Jackie Hallahan of the Canberra Dance Development Centre, was presented with the award for Services to Dance Education.
Rafael Bonachela was awarded for Outstanding Achievement in Choreography, for Sydney Dance Company’s “2 One Another” which he said was “purely inspired by the dancers”.
Sue Healey received the award for Outstanding Achievement in Dance on Film or New Media for her feature length documentary “Virtuosi,” before Tap Dogs Creator Dein Perry accepted the award for Outstanding Performance in Musical Theatre or Commercial Dance on behalf of The Company, now in its 19th year.
Shane Carroll was awarded for Services to Dance and despite a declaration that “I don’t exactly know what I do”, she extended her thanks to a “great bunch of do-ers”.
Force Majeure entertained the audience with a snippet of its physical theatre before “Black Project 1” saw Antony Hamilton win Outstanding Achievement in Independent Dance.
Ex-Canberra dancer Paul Knobloch co-presented the award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Dancer to Charmene Yap for “2 One Another”, who, somewhat speechless, accepted her award moments performing an excerpt from “Project Rameau” with The Sydney Dance Company, in a highlight of the evening. The work will be seen in its entirety in Canberra in September.Outstanding Performance by a Male Dancer was taken out by Kimball Wong for his “science-defying” work, “Proximity”. The category was hotly contested by Daniel Riley McKinley for Bangarra’s “Terrain”, Chen Wen for “2 One Another”, Paul White – “Anatomy of an Afternoon” and James O’Hara for the Australian Ballet’s “There’s definitely a Prince Involved”.
Dr Alan Brissenden was inducted into the Hall of Fame by presenters Robyn Archer and artistic director of the Australian Ballet Company, David McAllister, in recognition of his distinguished services to the dance profession through decades of dance criticism and scholarly writings.
Dr Brissenden, who joins the likes of previous inductees including Graeme Murphy and Ross Stretton regaled the audience with stories garnered from his theatre experiences and travels, including the first ballet he saw with wife, Elizabeth, in 1959. He asked whether his induction to the Hall of Fame could mean that “the pen was as powerful as the pointe shoe”.
The final award of the evening was to the Sydney Dance Company’s “2 One Another” for Outstanding Performance by a Company. Rafael Bonachela and dancers in varying stages of undress, having just performed, accepted the award.
The night concluded with an entertaining and energetic performance by Phly Crew with a rockabilly – b-boy style routine, which got everyone toe-tapping and primed for the afterparty.
The full list of nominees was:
OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN YOUTH OR COMMUNITY DANCE
- Dancenorth for Small Dance//Big Stories
- fLing Physical Theatre for The idea of South
- Steps Youth Dance for TRY HARD
- Tracks Dance Company for Eight to Eighty – Architecture of Age
SERVICES TO DANCE EDUCATION
- Dancenorth & Raewyn Hill
- Jackie Hallahan
- Vicki Thompson
OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN CHOREOGRAPHY
- Rafael Bonachela for 2 One Another [Sydney Dance Company]
- Kate Champion for Never Did Me Any Harm [Force Majeure and Sydney Theatre Company]
- Anouk van Dijk for An Act of Now [Chunky Move]
- Antony Hamilton for Black Project 1 [Antony Hamilton Projects]
- Frances Rings for Terrain [Bangarra Dance Theatre]
OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN DANCE ON FILM OR NEW MEDIA
- Richard Allen for Monk: Reloaded
- Peter Greig for Sharing Spaces: A Day In The Life
- Sue Healey for Virtuosi
- Claire Marshall for Pulse
OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE IN COMMERCIAL DANCE OR MUSICAL THEATRE
- Leah Howard for Mary Poppins
- Sian Johnson for A Chorus Line
- The Company for Tap Dogs
SERVICES TO DANCE
- Shane Carroll
- Geoff Cobham
- David McAllister AM
- Michael Pearce
OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN INDEPENDENT DANCE
- Antony Hamilton for Black Project 1
- Sue Healey for Variant
- Jade Dewi Tyas Tunggal for Opal Vapour
- Lisa Wilson for Lake
OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE BY A FEMALE DANCER
- Sue Peacock for Harakiri [STRUT Dance]
- Rachel Rawlins for Swan Lake [The Australian Ballet]
- Vivienne Wong for Warumuk – In the dark night [The Australian Ballet]
- Charmene Yap for 2 One Another [Sydney Dance Company]
OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE BY A MALE DANCER
- Wen Chen for 2 One Another [Sydney Dance Company]
- Daniel Riley McKinley for Terrain [Bangarra Dance Theatre]
- James O’Hara for There’s Definitely a Prince Involved [The Australian Ballet]
- Paul White for Anatomy of an Afternoon [Martin del Amo and Performing Lines]
- Kimball Wong for Proximity [Australian Dance Theatre]
OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE BY A COMPANY
- Australian Dance Theatre for Proximity
- Australian Dance Theatre for Be Your Self
- Bangarra Dance Theatre for Terrain
- Sydney Dance Company for 2 One Another