Locally based, professional dance has all but disappeared from Canberra. True we have a lot of youth and community dance, which has, of course, a place, but not much (scarcely any) dance that is made by mature professional artists who count Canberra as their home, whose choreography is fuelled by experience, and a knowledge of how dance can interact with the other arts, including literature, the visual arts, music and the history of those art forms. The dance we see scarcely ever challenges or expands our horizons. It is rarely is based on any complex skills and so is often uninteresting to watch in a technical sense as well.
It hasn't always been so. There was a period of about 20 years when the city could boast a professional dance company, sometimes more than one at the same time. They were heady times because art attracts art and there was some continuity for audiences to enjoy.
In 2014 I find it hard to choose five dance experiences that demanded my attention, moved me, were sophisticated productions, had some intellectual depth and coherence, and were Canberran in some way. So I have two.
1. Island by independent dancer and choreographer James Batchelor.
2. The Golds, a film by outstanding Sydney-based filmmaker Sue Healey, set in Canberra's unique landscape and performed by the city's mature aged company, the GOLDS.
As for 2015, I hope the funding authorities will look hard at what Canberra dance has been like recently and keep in mind the wider audience who would like to see something more than youth and community dance. For 2015 I'm looking forward to the visit by Sydney Dance Company, which has been touring to Canberra since about 1976.