The stage is set for a dazzling return of one of the highlights of the youth performing arts calendar.
The Youth Dance Festival will feature a mix of live performance and video after the pandemic forced the organisers, Ausdance ACT, to cancel in 2020 and go to a video only format last year.
Gungahlin College year 12 student Bobby Nguyen said it was a great feeling to be performing for live audiences again.
"Stepping on the stage and getting the feel of the light in your face and looking out and seeing the audience, I think it's one of those feelings that you can never really get sick off," he said.
This year's theme of transience and permanence speaks to the tumultuous and unpredictable world the students find themselves in.
Students from 20 secondary schools will perform over two nights at the Canberra Theatre Centre.
Ausdance director Dr Cathy Adamek said almost 600 students would be performing pieces that they've choreographed themselves.
"It's very student-led. It's a non-competitive process. So we put a lot of value on the artistic process and it's very much about the students," Dr Adamek said.
"Dance Fest has always provided really an experience in practical theatre-making and so for a lot of people who've gone on to have a career in tech, backstage tech, stage management, lighting, all those experiences ... say that dance fest had a lot to do with providing that experience."
Ausdance mentors have been visiting schools to provide feedback on how each group can improve their performances.
Gungahlin College year 12 student Emma Sheil said her class was inspired by visual artists, including Vincent Van Gogh and Pablo Picasso.
"We really all connected super quickly with painting and artwork and how paint starts off as something transient, but then can become permanent, something really beautiful that people then can interpret as their own meaningful thing," she said.
Gungahlin College performing arts teacher Emily Appleton said the students worked together to devise the choreography, music, lighting and costumes.
Along the way the students learn about teamwork, communication, time management and creative thinking.
"It's so much more than doing a dance. It's the process and the journey that then builds up to this beautiful product that they can be really proud of," Ms Appleton said.
For the year 12 students, it's a positive way to finish their school journey.
"It just shows when you work really hard with a group of people, amazing results could come out of it," Bobby said.
- Youth Dance Festival 2022 is at 7:30pm Sept 5-6 at Canberra Theatre Centre
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