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ACT represented in 2014 Australian Dance Awards

The Australian Dance Awards 2014.
Sydney Opera House
Sunday, November 9.

It was a night to remember on Sunday, November 9, when the Australian Dance Awards for 2014 were presented at the Sydney Opera House.

Heading the list of winners, who represented a wide range of dance genres, was the Australian Ballet. The flagship company received the coveted award of Outstanding Performance by a Company for its production of Cinderella, a magical, mesmerising and eccentrically beautiful ballet. It is the most exciting production the company has mounted for several years with choreography by the man of the moment in the world of classical ballet, Alexei Ratmansky, and imaginative designs by Frenchman Jerome Kaplan. In addition, the Australian Ballet's principal artist, Leanne Stojmenov, won the award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Dancer for her performance as Cinderella in the Ratmansky work. 

For Canberra folk in the audience, however, it was a real pleasure to see awards going to artists with strong Canberra links. Leading that list was Janet Karin, currently kinetic educator at the Australian Ballet School, who received the Award for Services to Dance Education. After a distinguished career as a principal with the Australian Ballet, Karin led Canberra's National Capital Ballet School for three decades and during that time trained many dancers from the ACT who went on to have their own distinguished careers. Her students included Ross Stretton, one-time artistic director of the Australian Ballet and later the Royal Ballet, London, and former Australian Ballet principal dancers Joanne Michel and Adam Marchant. 

Karin's passion for exploring what lies at the heart of dance led her to develop a system of training, the Karin Method, focusing on the most efficient use of the body in dance and the development of artistry. Since leaving Canberra, she has pursued an interest in dance medicine in conjunction with her teaching commitments. She is currently president of the International Association for Dance Medicine and Science and has just recently been awarded the title of Clinical Fellow of Australian Catholic University.

The award for Outstanding Achievement in Dance on Film or New Media went again to Sue Healey for her performance installation On View. Healey was artistic director of Vis-a-Vis Dance Canberra between 1993 and 1995 and since then has been working as an independent artist, largely making dance films. She has maintained an interest in dance in Canberra, most recently with a film called The Golds, which features dancers from Canberra's mature-age dance group.

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On View combines live performance with video installation and is a series of filmed portraits of seven dance artists, including Shona Erskine, a former Canberra dancer who trained at the National Capital Ballet School. Healey's citation for her 2014 award reads in part: "For a provocative performance installation that reveals a refined and intelligent gift for translating dance to screen."

In a further link to the Canberra dance scene, Buzz Dance Theatre, located in Perth, received the award for Outstanding Achievement in Youth or Community Dance for its production of Look the Other Way. Until recently, Buzz was directed by Canberra-born Cadi McCarthy Look the Other Way, which explores issues affecting new arrivals to Australia and includes a spectrum of opinions from young people living in Perth and its surrounds, was McCarthy's last show for Buzz, before she returned to the east coast to continue making dance. Her choreography was most recently seen in Canberra in September 2014, when she showed That Place in Between at the Canberra Theatre Centre.

Others who received awards during the evening were Annie Grieg, artistic director of Tasdance (Services to Dance); Stephanie Lake (Outstanding Achievement in Choreography) for Aorta, created for Melbourne's Chunky Move; Dalisa Pigram (Outstanding Achievement in Independent Dance) for Gudirr Gudirr; James Vu Anh Pham, dancer with Chunky Move, (Outstanding Performance by a Male Dancer) for his performance in Aorta; and Red Hot Rhythm (Outstanding Achievement in Commercial Dance or Musical Theatre) for Rhythm Junkies.

The recipient of the Lifetime Achievement award, Leigh Warren, former director of Australian Dance Theatre and Leigh Warren and Dancers, was announced before the awards, as was the inductee into the Hall of Fame, Gailene Stock, who died earlier in 2014 from complications from a brain tumour. Stock was a principal with the Australian Ballet, before directing both Melbourne's National Theatre Ballet School and the Australian Ballet School and then the Royal Ballet School in London. Her induction into the Hall of Fame was an emotional moment in the ceremonies.

The Australian Dance Awards for 2014 were presented by Ausdance NSW, the Sydney Opera House and Harlequin Floors.