Canberra gets ready to pump up the jam during dance week
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Canberra gets ready to pump up the jam during dance week

Whether ballroom mainstays, ravers or lycra-clad Zumba enthusiasts, Canberrans are set to have an an extra reason to don their dance shoes and get their boogie on this winter.

Ausdance ACT launched its 2015 Dance Week festivities at Westside Acton Park on Wednesday, coinciding with International Dance Day.

From left, Calwell High school year 10 students, Jacob Brown, 15, of Gilmore and Grace Forbes, 15, of Jerrabomberra take part in the outdoor dance jam held at the Westside Acton Park for the launch of Ausdance ACT Australian dance week in Canberra.

From left, Calwell High school year 10 students, Jacob Brown, 15, of Gilmore and Grace Forbes, 15, of Jerrabomberra take part in the outdoor dance jam held at the Westside Acton Park for the launch of Ausdance ACT Australian dance week in Canberra.Credit:Melissa Adams

Australian Dance Week began in 1982 and has grown into a nationwide annual celebration, with states and territories across Australia running their own performances and classes.

ACT's Dance Week, which stretches over 10 days, features a variety of free performances and classes. Highlights include a Dance on the Edge performance at Belconnen Arts Centre, The Good Morning Rave with No Lights No Lycra South Canberra at Gorman House Arts Centre and a performance by the Sydney Dance Company at Canberra Theatre Centre.

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Canberrans take part in the outdoor dance jam held at the Westside Acton Park for the launch of Ausdance ACT Australian dance week in Canberra.

Canberrans take part in the outdoor dance jam held at the Westside Acton Park for the launch of Ausdance ACT Australian dance week in Canberra.Credit:Melissa Adams

ACT Dance Week was launched by Arts Minister Joy Burch at Westside Acton Park to an audience of dancers, VIPs and organisers. Ms Burch encouraged Canberrans to participate.

"My challenge to everyone, not only those here but those across the community, is to try something new," she said.

The week's activities kicked off immediately after the launch with Canberra's Biggest Dance Jam.

Local dance performer, creator and teacher Jamie Winbank led the jam. It was attended by about 75 people. "There was lots of energy, lots of enthusiasm," he said.

"[The jam] was a way to promote the idea that anybody and everybody can dance."

While the jam was mainly attended by high school students, it drew a number of others to the park, including a "couple of people" who'd just happened to notice the event on Facebook, Mr Winbank said.

In attendance were Calwell High School student Jacob Brown and Riggs Whaling, a dancer at Bom Funk studio and founder of J4 Crew.

Jacob was looking forward to doing something outside of his comfort zone during Dance Week, while Mr Whaling said dancing was his love and helped him feel happy and relaxed. "I couldn't picture a day without dance," he said.

Ausdance ACT president Lauren Honcope described the ACT dance scene as "diverse". "We have people who are just walking – literally – doing 'tiny tots' classes," she said. But Canberra was also home to the Silver Treads Senior Tap Dancing Group for over 50s and was hosting the GOLDS (Growing Old Disgracefully) dance group, said Ms Honcope.

Ms Honcope hoped Dance Week provided opportunities to both showcase local dance talent and encouraged Canberrans to take part in dancing to enhance their health and wellbeing.

Dance Week will run from April 29 to May 10. The full program can be downloaded from the Ausdance ACT website.

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