Tracks Dance Company is located in Darwin and produces original dance works that celebrate an important part of Australian culture – the frontier of the Northern Territory. A multi-awarded centre of excellence, Tracks is a hub of expertise in community dance built on an extended history of trusted community collaboration. Tracks is an innovator, developing Australian dance that values and utilises a diversity of dance practice.
Tracks Dance Company celebrates: People - their stories, truths and diverse heritage; Place - Darwin with the deserts of Central Australia to the south, and the tropics of South East Asia to the north; Spirit - the vitality of a living culture enriched by traditional and contemporary life.
Bringing people together and adding value to their lives, Tracks offers audiences an opportunity to gain a better understanding of themselves by challenging and exposing them to new experiences – like the Territory itself.
Enter one of our spectacular outdoor theatres; fashioned from WWII ruins, the canopies of giant rain-trees, rooftop car parks, or a basketball court in a remote desert community. See dancers drawn from the unique cultural mix of people who call the Territory home; from head spinning breakers and funky contemporary movers, to showgirl grannies and ochre painted elders. Sometimes a performance may reflect one central focus such as youth, Indigenous, seniors, or diverse cultures, while at others times Tracks explores the way that diversity sits side by side in our world.
Tracks prides itself on working with local artists and investing in the development and employment of the local arts industry through a broad range of opportunities including choreographic development programs, studio residencies and showings, training, mentoring, volunteerism, community performances and signature dance productions.
Tracks Dance Company is a key arts organisation of the Australia Council for the Arts and the Northern Territory Government through Arts NT.
A great strength of Tracks is the artistic talent and collective skills of the current Co-Artistic Directors, Tim Newth AM and David McMicken AM, who have consistently produced excellent work for almost two decades. They approach the making of their work through a multi-arts lens, backing up their skills in dance, visual arts and design, drama, music, and literature. They use performance to inspire a wide range of Territorians of diverse cultural backgrounds: from youth through to the elderly, city to remote community.
David and Tim have an extraordinary ability to work collaboratively, honed over the years. This is a core value of their creative process.
David McMicken has training in education, dance, theatre, literature and music and has had a successful career as a performer and director, founding several companies along the way. He has lived and worked in the Territory since 1991.
Tim Newth trained as a visual artist and moved into being a director who works in dance, theatre, and community arts. Based in Darwin since 1988, Tim is well known for creating spectacular outdoor performances in diverse spaces that connect people, place and culture.
In 1988 two community dance projects - Dance On Darwin, and a tour to the remote community of Lajamanu, brought together the creative skills of Tim Newth - a freelance visual artist and Sarah Calver - the Community Dance Development Officer at Brown's Mart Community Arts, and previous dancer with Feats Unlimited dance company. When David McMicken stepped off the plane from Melbourne at Darwin airport in 1991 he was overwhelmed by the sense of having arrived ‘home’ and he was soon working in collaboration with Tim and Sarah. Now with the addition of a new voice, the journey toward a uniquely Northern Territorian performing arts company continued.
In 1992 David took on the role of Community Dance Officer at Brown’s Mart Community Arts, a role he shared with Sarah, and naturally with Darwin’s cultural makeup, many dance projects and collaborations with local cultural groups followed. In 1993 the community dance program was renamed to Tracks Dance Collective, with five founding members: Sarah Calver, David McMicken , Tim Newth, Berenice Franklin, and Lisa Campbell, (later becoming Tracks Dance Company). In 1997 Tracks ventured on a trip exploring Northern Territory culture and found themselves covered in ‘Sweat, Dust and Romance’. Here was an extraordinary dance performance drawing together professional and community dancers in a show of skill, wit and diversity that celebrated what it was to be local. The rest of the country sat up and took notice as this Tracks' performance - 4WD Sweat Dust and Romance - bush-bashed its way from the local community onto the Australian cultural map. The company’s reputation was established. In 1998 the company was moved from Brown’s Mart Community Arts and in 1999 we incorporated under the name Tracks Inc.
Adopting a new language for speaking about ‘dance’ led to Ignite, the first fully Tracks mainstream youth performance in 2002, performed on a shopping centre rooftop carpark. A cast of emerging dancers, representing many different cultural backgrounds, explored life as they experienced it from living in two or more cultures.
Contemporary narratives have underpinned all the work produced by Tracks and local audiences have come to expect a new take on the Territory every time Tracks puts on a performance. Whether drawing on traditional Indigenous values relevant to all Australians (Milpirri 2005, 2007, 2009 – Lajamanu), exploring Darwin’s war history (Struck 2008), sweltering in the heat of the build-up (Endurance 2009), or peering through the lens of Australia’s colonisation (The Cook, The Queen and the Kelly 2010) Tracks continues to engage with community on all levels and remains the Northern Territory’s premier dance company.
Tracks produces exceptional performances of a high artistic standard and is nationally recognised as an innovative developer of a unique Australian dance idiom.
- Nominated 2000 Northern Territory Human Rights Awards for work with refugees and migrants, Sticks ‘n’ Stones project.
- Awarded 2004 Sidney Myer Performing Arts Award
- Short listed 2007 Australian Dance Awards Services to Dance
- Winner 2009 Australian Dance Award for Outstanding Achievement in Youth or Community Dance. Struck
- Winner 2009 Australian Business Arts Foundation Giving Award: South Australia Northern Territory
- Short listed 2010 Australian Dance Award Outstanding Achievement in Youth or Community Dance. The Cook, The Queen and the Kelly
- Winner 2013 Australian Dance Award for Outstanding Achievement in Youth or Community Dance. Eight to Eighty - the Architecture of Age
- 2014 David McMicken and Tim Newth made Members (AM) in the general division of the Order of Australia.
- Short listed 2014 Australian Dance Award Outstanding Achievement in Youth or Community Dance. Zombies in the Banyan Tree.
- Winner 2015 Australian Dance Award Outstanding Achievement in Community Dance. Milpirri (jarda-warnpa)
Links to presentations and papers
- 1993 Artist's diary notes from residency in the Aboriginal comunity of Angurugu
- 1996 Ngapa Two Cultures One Country - Tim Newth, David McMicken and Steve Jampijinpa Patrick
- 1996 Landformed: An Image of Tim Newth - Maggi Phillips
- 2001-2003 Between Foot and Voice - McMicken and Newth
- 2002 The getting of intercultural wisdom - McMicken and Newth
- 2008 A Cross-Cultural Collaboration - 20 Years In The Making - McMicken and Newth
- 2008 Performance as a Bridge that Joins the Ancient with the Modern - Steve Jampijinpa Patrick
- 2008 Ngurra-kurlu a way of working with Warlpiri people - Steve Jampijinpa Patrick, Miles Holmes and (Lance) Alan Box
- 2010 Dance, a whole of life experience – McMicken and Newth
Co-Artistic Directors: David McMicken and Tim Newth
General Manager: Adelaide Wood
Administrator: Jessica Mellor
Production Manager: Mathew McHugh
Dance Animateur: Kelly Beneforti
Bookkeeper: Noya Chong Wah
Tracks Committee of Management is comprised of highly skilled and talented people, all of whom have a strong commitment to the work and philosophy of Tracks.
Ippei Okazaki, Anita Toth and Rev Steve Orme
His Honour the Honourable John Hardy AO, Administrator of the Northern Territory
Myra Nungarrayi Herbert
Steve Wanta Jampijinpa Patrick
Tracks Dance Company wishes to acknowledge and thank the following Sponsors for their commitment and generosity. Their support enables us to produce exceptional performances built on an extended history of trusted community collaborations. Our performances celebrate an important part of Australian culture – the frontier of the Northern Territory.