In an evening that celebrated the best in Australian dance, the 2015 Australian Dance Awards brought together some of Australia’s best dancers, dance companies and dance elders to present 13 awards and welcome two new members to the Hall of Fame.
Big winners on the night were Queensland Ballet, winning Outstanding Performance by a Company for Romeo and Juliet, and South Australia’s Michelle Ryan with Torque Show, winning Outstanding Achievement in Independent Dance for Intimacy.
The Australian Ballet’s Lucinda Dunn OAM was awarded Outstanding Performance by a Female Dancer for her stunning farewell performances in Manon, and Waangenga Blanco of Bangarra Dance Theatre was awarded Outstanding Performance by a Male Dancer for Patyegarang.
Marilyn Jones OBE and Dr. Elizabeth Cameron Dalman OAM were formally inducted into the Hall of Fame for their distinguished contributions to dance, to loud and long applause, in front of representatives from Australia’s professional dance companies. The Lifetime Achievement Award was given to Marilyn Rowe, who was unable to attend due to an illness. The award was received on her behalf by Leigh Rowles of The Australian Ballet School.
The Ausdance Peggy van Praagh Choreographic Fellowship, a bequest from the founder of The Australian Ballet Dame Peggy van Praagh, was made to delighted South Australian Lina Limosani, who promised to put it to very good use.
Performances included Dancenorth, who flew in direct from Townsville on Saturday to perform, with two former ADT stars Kyle Page and Amber Haines performing a section of their new work, Syncing Feeling; Melbourne City Ballet came off tour from Sydney with the pas de deux from Helena & Demetrius; and the doyen of ADT, Dr. Elizabeth Cameron Dalman OAM, delayed a trip to Taiwan so she could restage early ADT work Creation with the current company.
Also joining in were Queensland Ballet Principal Dancer Clare Morehen; Leigh Rowles, Kenneth Watkins and Jasmine Mosely of The Australian Ballet; Kim Walker of NAISDA; Thomas Bradley from Sydney Dance Company; Jesse Rasmussen of The Tap Pack; David McMicken and Tim Newth from Tracks Dance Company of Darwin; Paige Gordon from Perth; and principal sponsor Guy Dagger, managing director of British Harlequin, who expressed his appreciation of the range of Australian talent on display.
The Australian Dance Awards were presented by Ausdance, with Harlequin Floors and the Adelaide Festival Centre. Dance Informa was the proud media sponsor.
And the 2015 winners were…
Lifetime Achievement – Marilyn Rowe OBE
“After an outstanding career as an internationally acclaimed principal artist with The Australian Ballet, Marilyn dedicated her life to The Australian Ballet School and its students, helping shape the future of young dancers through her leadership, vision and innovative education programs…”
Outstanding Achievement in Youth Dance – STEPS Youth Dance Company for Fights & Flights
“For a well-constructed work that was polished, powerful, poignant and a real celebration of youth dance, and for a confident, impressive performance by a cohesive ensemble.”
Services to Dance Education – Tanya Pearson OAM
“For her dedication to excellent teaching for over 50 years, for expanding her students’ vision through exposure to the international classical ballet world, and for a truly lasting legacy.”
Outstanding Achievement in Commercial Dance, Musicals or Physical Theatre – Gravity & Other Myths for A Simple Space
“For a thrilling hour of daring feats of balance, strength and skill, impressive teamwork and creativity, astounding acrobatics, and some dangerous and original choreography.”
Outstanding Achievement in Dance on Film or New Media – Claire Marshall for Ward of State
“For a bold and engaging collaboration of dance and music with wonderful choreography and outstanding editing, direction and production.”
Outstanding Achievement in Choreography – Narelle Benjamin for Hiding in Plain Sight
“For beautifully sculpted and clever choreography presenting a fascinating exploration of identity, displacement, loss and mortality, and for a wonderful blend of film, photography, lighting and dance.”
Outstanding Achievement in Community Dance – Tracks Dance Company for Milpirri (Jarda–Warnpa)
“For a large-scale, captivating, cross-cultural dance performance fusing contemporary and traditional dance, championing reconciliation and uniting people in a wonderful celebration of dance and community.”
Services to Dance – Jeff Busby
“For his generosity and extraordinary talent in capturing the spirit of dance and dancers through his brilliant photographs, and his skill in collaborating and discovering new ways to present dance through visual media.”
Outstanding Achievement in Independent Dance – Torque Show and Michelle Ryan with Lavender vs Rose for Intimacy
“For an exquisite, compelling and immersive production exploring intimacy and human relationships within disability in a personal, honest and provocative dance theatre performance.”
Outstanding Performance by a Female Dancer – Lucinda Dunn OAM for Manon [The Australian Ballet]
“For an outstanding and radiant performance that showed flawless technique, artistry and intelligence; a masterful portrayal of the metamorphosis from innocent to fallen woman.”
Outstanding Performance by a Male Dancer – Waangenga Blanco for Patyegarang [Bangarra Dance Theatre]
“For his impressive physicality, exceptional dance technique, powerful characterisation and a magnetism and integrity that commands attention.”
Outstanding Performance by a Company – Queensland Ballet for Romeo & Juliet
“For a captivating production that demonstrated excellent solo and ensemble work, brilliant costumes, sets and designs, and a unified company performance that was of an international standard. “
Hall of Fame
Congratulations to the 2015 Hall of Fame inductees:
Marilyn Jones OBE
Marilyn Jones OBE, Australia’s first new prima ballerina of The Australian Ballet, is an iconic figure of dance. From her first season with the company to her last, she sustained an innately lyrical aesthetic. Marilyn’s warmth and humility in such classics as Swan Lake, Raymonda, Sleeping Beauty and, perhaps above all, Giselle with her (then) husband Garth Welch, made her a favourite with audiences nationally and abroad.
Following her performance career, Marilyn taught at the National Theatre Ballet School and was artistic director of The Australian Ballet (1979-1982), where she established the Dancers Company involving final year students of The Australian Ballet School. In 1995, she became Artistic Director of the National Theatre School, and later, Senior Lecturer and Coordinator of Classical Dance at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts.
Today, Marilyn is the artistic director of the Australian Institute of Classical Dance, which she established to produce a new Australian ballet-training syllabus. In 1996, she launched the much-valued Dance Creation competition for emerging choreographers. Marilyn continues to lead the Institute’s valuable work, which comprises workshops for students, teachers’ seminars, examinations, scholarship competitions and residencies at the Royal New Zealand Ballet School and the Houston Ballet School in Texas, USA.
One of our greatest classical dancers, Marilyn has inspired and influenced generations of young dancers throughout her distinguished life in dance.
Dr. Elizabeth Cameron Dalman OAM
Nationally and internationally renowned as a choreographer, teacher and performer, Elizabeth has been passionate and dedicated to dance and the arts for her entire life. Part of a generation of artists seeking a spiritual and holistic way of expressing themselves, she has helped to define Australia’s cultural identity and expression in the modern world and has made a significant and lasting impact on the development of Australian contemporary dance.
Originally trained in Adelaide, Elizabeth left to study with remarkable choreographers before returning to found and lead Australian Dance Theatre, following which she taught and choreographed in Europe before returning to the freelance life in Australia and founding Mirramu Creative Arts Centre in New South Wales. She continues to dance, teach and choreograph around the world.
A visionary as well as a pioneer, Elizabeth has always been an advocate of human rights — as expressed in her many creative works — actively supporting Aboriginal rights, women’s rights, the environment and contemporary arts. Leading a generation of artists who were seeking a spiritual and holistic pathway through their art in order to communicate and explore ways to interpret the world, she has contributed to defining Australia’s diverse cultural identity and has made a significant and lasting impact on the development of Australian contemporary dance.
By Chelsea Thomas of Dance Informa.
Photo (top): Lucinda Dunn & Adam Bull in ‘Manon’, The Australian Ballet. Photo supplied by The Australian Ballet.