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Get ready to twist and shout: the Ausdance ACT Youth Dance Festival is finally returning to the stage!
As the COVID-19 pandemic tore down the arts and entertainment industry in 2020, young dancers had to step to the sidelines when the Youth Dance Festival was cancelled for the first time in 35 years.
Now in it’s 37th year, the show will go on and Dance Fest is back from 6 until 10 September to help bring dancers from the Canberra region together to showcase their original choreography and share their ideas through dance.
With the theme of ‘Digital Dystopia Utopia’, the festival will present a multimedia delivery of film and live performance at the Canberra Theatre, providing secondary school students with the opportunity to engage in dance film making and to meet the challenges of a world connected by technology.
Dr Cathy Adamek, the Director of Ausdance ACT, says that the theme of the festival’s return was inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic and the role technology has taken in the arts sector.
“The theme came from my own experiences as a mother of a 13 year old and the invention of the iPhone,” says Cathy. “Because I work from home a lot I’m using my phone but it meant my son always saw me at home using my phone and iPad…It’s very much something we’ve had to navigate and there’s both positives and negatives.”
“This theme comes from the reality we live with everyday and what it means to be a young person growing up being mediated by technology.”
Joining the Ausdance team in October 2020 to take on the role of Director, Cathy explains the first thing she said in her new role was “if we can’t perform live we will still go ahead”.
Inspired by progressive use of technology in the performing arts sector, Cathy set out to create a theme that reflected what the young dancers were experiencing in their daily lives.
“We wanted to emphasise multimedia but in the end it also acted as a solution because we had to deal with backstage restrictions,” she says. “The multimedia provides a solution because if you can only have 10 kids perform live, you can have the other 50 on the screen behind them.”
“We upskilled teachers and students so they are able to make dance films, so if we had to, we could live stream.”
Using the dance films as a new, innovative way for students to be involved with the festival, Ausdance have also increased their performance nights to five while backstage restrictions are continued to be enforced.
With 40 high schools and colleges participating from across Canberra, who will present 50 new works and many other students involved in the dance films that will screen in between the live pieces every night, Cathy is excited to see how students interpret a very timely concept.
“You can’t replace the live experience and being able to deliver that and dodge and weave around the restrictions is worth it,” she says.
What: Ausdance ACT Youth Dance Festival
When: 06– 10 September 2021
Where: Canberra Theatre Centre
PHOTOS: Felicity Arts at US SSC Lake Ginninderra and Lanyon High School