News & Insights

The New Dance Festival

A new dance festival for artists and audiences in Melbourne.

Like its predecessor Dance Massive, this new dance festival is planned as a biennial celebration of dance during March.

That’s where the similarities end.

This new dance festival has more partners, is not geographically bound to Melbourne, and has been designed in collaboration with independent dance artists and organisations from the very beginning.

The Dance Massive model was unsustainable (as explained here), and we have gone through a three-year co-design process to design a new collaborative festival model that has a 10-year ambition and sustainability embedded into its design.

The purpose of this new dance festival is to celebrate and bring together audiences and communities. It’s a public invitation to appreciate dance.

The festival is an opportunity to assemble, compare, discuss, witness, expand, participate and connect with dance. It seeks to represent dance artists from across forms, practices, cultures, histories, lineages, styles, disciplines, aesthetics and experimentations.

The festival is interested in all kinds of dance projects, each of equal importance: shows, talks, films, public programs, sharings and workshops both in-person and online. The festival will welcome new voices, people and networks in each edition. 

The festival will be adaptive and will respond to current conditions in its scale and ambition over a 10-year cycle. It aligns and supports an arts community both recovering from, and preparing for, large-scale shifts in how the arts, climate crisis, and global mobility intersect. The festival upholds values shared by all partners, including self-determination, equity, transparency, accessibility, sustainability and wellbeing, and others as are listed here.

The festival has been created through the collaboration and collective organisation of independent dance artists (through The Curatorium) and organisations (through Festival Partners). These two groups will collaboratively direct and deliver the Festival. You can find the full list of Festival Partners & Curatorium below.

The festival program, for this first pilot year, is being curated in collaboration between the partners and Curatorium through an Expression of Interest (EOI) call out for dance artists to propose ideas and projects for the festival.

The EOIs will be appraised by this independent artistic Curatorium. They will make recommendations to the Festival Partners, who will help realise and present the projects. These EOIs will be evaluated against the priorities outlined in the festival’s Principles & Framework, to which all Festival Partners have signed up.


The Festival Partners & Curatorium

This festival, like its predecessor Dance Massive, is created by the collective will and cooperation of the dance sector, comprising artists, organisations, arts workers, producers, presenters, advocates, communities and stakeholders. The festival has no central operations, no individual governing organisation, no ongoing year-round staff or resources.

There are two important groups that help direct and deliver the Festival:

THE PARTNERS: these are organisations that agree to contribute resources for the creation of the Festival and to produce and present multiple artistic projects.

THE CURATORIUM: these are dance-making artists appointed and paid by the Partners (individually or collectively) with a responsibility to take a festival-wide view. The Curatorium facilitates a call-out for projects and appraises these ideas, identifying gaps, and providing oversight and feedback on the projects to Partners.

The following festival Partners have committed to these Principles and Framework for 2023.

Arts House, City of Melbourne
Bunjil Place
Centre for Projection Art
Chunky Move
Dance House
Darebin Arts Speakeasy, City of Darebin
Lucy Guerin Inc (LGI)
Punctum Inc.
Temperance Hall
The Australian Ballet
The Substation

The following are important partners to the Festival contributing programs and resources but will not consider projects from the festival EOI:

Ausdance VIC
APAM (Australian Performing Arts Market)
Abbotsford Convent
Next Wave

The following independent dance-making artists have been appointed by Arts House to the Curatorium:

Jennifer Ma
Jennifer Ma is a Taiwanese-Australian dancer and choreographer based in Naarm. Jennifer studied at Transit Dance and was a member of youth dance company – Yellow Wheel, street dance crew – Mute Crew, Dancehouse’s Emerging Choreographers Program and a recipient of the City of Melbourne Arts Residency at the Boyd Studio in 2022. Jennifer’s cross-genre dance works have been seen at Melbourne Fringe, Dancehouse and Bunjil Place, alongside multiple short dance films with her collaborators. With a keen interest for dance on film, she choreographed and performed in Accumulating which was commissioned by Bunjil Place and the project had a site-specific iteration presented by Hyphenated Biennial. Jennifer was also a mentor for street dancers of Sister Sessions and ran multiple cross-genre dance workshops with her collaborators in Naarm.

Feras Shaheen
Feras Shaheen’s art practice spans across performance, semiotics, street dance, readymade art and digital media. Shaheen was born in Dubai, to Palestinian parents, and moved to Sydney at the age of 11. Shaheen traverses different roles within the arts, working as a director, performer, teacher, choreographer and digital artist. He holds a Bachelor of Design from Western Sydney University (2014) and in addition to his artistic practice works as a freelance designer, photographer and filmmaker.

Feras is currently working with Marrugeku presenting Jurrungu Ngan-ga, a collaborative production that addresses both local and global issues regarding the fear of cultural difference. In an ongoing capacity, Feras works on a duet titled ‘Klapping’ with Ahilan Ratnamohan, a contemporary project that consists of choreographic research into football, initially commissioned by Campbelltown Arts Centre (2017). In 2021, Feras has conceptualised and designed ‘Forum Q’ – a hybrid art form between public art installation and recreation space for the community in collaboration with CAC and Campbelltown Council. Feras has been awarded The Australian Ballet’s Telstra Emerging Choreographer (TEC) in 2021.

The festival Curatorium comprises artists appointed and supported by the festival Partners. For the 2023 festival, the Curatorium includes: Alisdair MacIndoe, Amos Gebhardt, Antony Hamilton, Feras Shaheen, Jennifer Ma, Jo Lloyd, Joel Bray, Jonathan Homsey, Lilian Steiner, Lucas Jervies, Lucy Guerin, Lz Dunn, Olivia Adams, Phillip Adams, Priya Srinivasan, Rachel Coulson, Victoria Chiu and 2 other members to be appointed.

Image Credit: Le Dernier Appel/The Last Cry by Marrugeku. Presented by Arts House and Marrugeku as part of Dance Massive in Season 1, 2019. Image by Prudence Upton

Related News & Insights:


The story so far

Imagining the new dance festival for Melbourne

Dance Festival Principles & Framework

A renewed dance festival for Melbourne, developed by Arts House & Dancehouse.