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AUSTRALIAN DANCE LEAPS INTO US MARKET

Australian dance artists hoping to break into the tough US market will benefit from growing demand for international acts from US venues – in particular universities, according to US expert Martin Wollesen.

Martin Wollesen, a leading performing arts presenter and University of California, San Diego, Artistic Director who was in Australia recently for discussions with 30 dance artists and companies, says US universities are at the forefront of supporting dance to add value to arts education and stimulate community participation. ‘Universities have an active interest in connecting artists, students and community. More university presenters are looking internationally, so Australian companies have a greater opportunity to access the US touring circuit,’ he added.

Capitalising on these opportunities will be a priority for a delegation, led by the Australia Council for the Arts, that is attending the world’s largest performing arts market, the Arts Presenters Conference in New York, from 21-24 January 2006. The annual event attracts more than 4000 international performing arts presenters.

Phillip Adams, Artistic Director of Melbourne’s Balletlab hopes his company will be high on the talent scouts’ agenda. Balletlab is one of nine companies to be profiled through the Australia Council for the Arts’ Dance Down Under promotion, which also includes Chunky Move (Vic.), Dance Works (Vic.), Expressions Dance Company (Qld), Helen Herbertson (Vic.), Leigh Warren and Dancers (SA), Liz Lea (NSW), Lucy Guerin Inc. (Vic.) and Ros Warby (Vic.).

During the market, Balletlab will present Amplification at PS122, one of New York’s leading venues. Adams says: ‘Since its world premiere in 1998, Amplification has enjoyed amazing international touring success. PS122 will be the first to present and introduce BalletLab in the US, and we hope to continue the hype, and excite New York audiences with Amplification‘s US premiere. Our aim is to secure some fantastic further touring opportunities to continue BalletLab’s presence in the US, and to strengthen existing relationships with American presenters.’

Dance Down Under has promoted export-ready Australian dance at the Arts Presenters Conference for the past three years resulting in significant breakthroughs for Australian companies. Australian Dance Theatre initiated its collaboration with photographer Lois Greenfield to develop HELD at the conference in 2003. The company also negotiated an extensive tour of the US through contacts made at the event.

In addition, Chunky Move and Sydney Dance Company will tour throughout the US as part of a landmark three-year partnership between the Australia Council for the Arts and Boston-based New England Foundation for the Arts’ (NEFA) National Dance Project. The partnership will support commissioning and touring Australian productions in the US from 2006 to 2008, and open doors for exporting many more Australian companies in the future.

Australia Council for the Arts Acting CEO, Cathy Brown-Watt, says this year’s participants would wow US presenters and audiences alike with the fresh appeal and artistic quality of their performances ‘The US is a huge market for the performing arts. The strong physicality and adventurous nature of Australian dance gives our artists a distinctiveness that US presenters are looking for.’

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