Dancenorth Australia reps regional arts on a national stage

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Internationally acclaimed Townsville-based contemporary dance company Dancenorth Australia has made history as the first regional Queensland arts organisation invited to join the National Performing Arts Partnership Framework (NPAPF).

In a major win for regional arts nationally, Dancenorth will actively shape and contribute to Australia’s performing arts sector as a Partner Organisation with access to greater funding stability, expanded development pathways and a clear approach to prioritising outcomes.

Dancenorth’s invitation to join the new Framework recognises the company’s exceptional national and international artistic reputation, commitment to producing a significant volume of new Australian work, advocacy for artist development and broad engagement and collaboration, including with First Nations artists and communities.

While June’s announcement marked a significant achievement for the leading contemporary dance company, Dancenorth Artistic Director Kyle Page said it also acknowledged a regional arts revolution playing out across the nation.

“Australia is filled with extraordinary, regionally based organisations doing incredible work and we feel immensely fortunate to work alongside our colleagues around the country as ambassadors for regional arts,” Mr Page said.

“What I am most excited about is the expanded focus to include more voices in the national Framework, particularly voices that don’t reside in capital cities. There is this growing sense that ‘regional is the new international’ which is a really beautiful way to crystalise a more thoughtful approach to art-making and inclusion.

“We are deeply committed to engaging with regional artists and audiences, honouring the communities with whom we collaborate and anchoring everything we do in a unique sense of place.”

A champion of North Queensland arts, Dancenorth balances a dynamic regional presence with a commitment to creating compelling contemporary dance with a global reach.

Led by Mr Page, Executive Director Hillary Coyne and Associate Artistic Director Amber Haines, Dancenorth makes significant contributions to the national and international dance sector and has presented work in more than 40 international arts festivals and venues.

Ms Coyne said the inclusion of regionally based organisations within the NPAPF illustrated a genuine shift in the perception of arts and culture in Australia.

“We deeply appreciate the invitation from the State and Federal Governments to join the NPAPF. Such an opportunity will provide us with the stability to carefully plan with deep consideration for what is truly needed by our community,” Ms Coyne said.

“We will move into the coming years with a heightened sense of responsibility and gratitude for being able to do the work that we do. We take seriously our role to support the health and vitality of the Australian arts and cultural sector more broadly by continuing to find ways to offer opportunities to the many independent artists around the country.

“We are thrilled to join the other new companies around the country that have been invited into the NPAPF, all of whom represent a unique and important voice. I am hopeful it will ensure a deeper, richer and more diverse representation in our arts and cultural life.”

Dancenorth has become an epicentre of cultural exchange to support dancemaking in Australia via residencies, secondments and creative developments.

“This year, we are welcoming 70 guest artists and more than 40 secondments to work and spend time with the company,” Mr Page said.

“We are staging six major world premiere works and presenting 11 seasons of work nationally in addition to our ongoing workshops and masterclasses which attract over 6000 participants annually. It’s an extraordinary output for a company of our size.”

Dancenorth is deeply rooted in place, inspired by the lifestyle, community and natural environment of Tropical North Queensland.

Its Community Experience (CE) program dismantles barriers to offer a variety of dance experiences for diverse communities including neurodiverse and differently-abled people, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and those who are culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD).

“People often remark that Townsville feels like an unusual place for a contemporary dance company to exist; for that reason, perhaps, it is the most important place for it to exist,” Mr Page said.

“We honour this place by imbuing the creative process with our environment and previewing all our works in Townsville before they’re seen elsewhere.”

Dancenorth will premiere its new work, CONTROL, at the Australian Festival of Chamber Music, Townsville on 29 July. RED premiered at Melbourne’s inaugural RISING festival on 26 May, before the festival was cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions.

The company is also one of seven collaborating partners producing Dungarri Nya Nya Ngarri Bi Nya for Townsville’s North Australian Festival of Arts (NAFA) in July.

This world premiere production has been two years in the making and brings together six local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander dance groups in a spectacular work of scale.

Peep Dancenorth’s stellar 2021 season HERE.