13th National Rural Health Conference


Darwin Convention Centre, Darwin City

May 25-26, 2015

The National Rural Health Conferance was held in Darwin on May 24-27. Tracks Dance was invited to deliver a presentation on Monday the 25th, and a one hour performance on Tuesday the 26th.

The Monday presentation was suggested by Physiotherapist Owen Allen, who lives in Atherton, near Cairns. Owen has been a practising physiotherapist for more than 30 years and has recently been drawn to the power of dance in physiotherapy. 

Tracks agreed that a smaller performance by the Grey Panthers would be the most suitable vehicle. A remount of Joanna Noonan's Swings and Flings was performed and was added to by a film featuring photographs of the Grey Panthers in their youth. This work was based on the life of the dancers coming from remote and regional areas of the Northern Territory. They hold significant knowledge in thier bodies.

The Grey Panthers have over 25 years of experience, with about half the women residing on Darwin, about a quarter in Outer Darwin and the remaining quarter beyond that. Over the years the women (and man) have often challenged the role of the senior in our society. Our work with the elders of Lajamanu (which has also continued for 25 years) has given us a perspective where elders can have a respected place, and act as beacons for younger generations. They are the living examples of the past that is our pathway into the future.

In discussions with the Grey Panthers over the years they are clearly aware of certain health issues but also talk about the lack of “take up” from younger generations towards the cause. Their constant volunteerism, extra care for others, and making activities that are both relevant and fun is what drives most of these people. Dance is seen as a tool in their arsenal of health, fitness, mental dexterity, socialisation, care and support, entertainment, and visibility. The fact that this group has run continuously since 1988 is a testament to its success.

Creative Team

Director: David McMicken
Tracks Animateur: Kelly Beneforti
Choreographers: David McMicken, Kelly Beneforti, Joanna Noonan, Jess Devereux, Julia Quinn


Monday May 25: NT and Darwin by Dance

Like a number of other genres of art, contemporary dance provides a composition of imagery that subverts the rational linguistic framework that often dominates epistemological (knowing) perspectives. Contemporary dance brings story-based and artistic imagery, and a kinaesthetic experience, valuable for eliciting new perspectives on longstanding challenges, both in the performers and the audience.

The Grey Panthers perform an enquiry into their experience of Darwin and Northern Territory life. The choreography and supportive multimedia is based on the personal stories of culture, lifestyle, empowerment and circumstance. An in depth enquiry asks of the dancers, in the touted multicultural wonderland of Darwin, their experiences of social integrity and workability. Perceptions of chasms, barriers, seclusions or exclusions; overt and covert issues; creating access to integrity; points of failure and success, provokes story from which the elements of time, space, energy, rhythms, and imagery are derived as a basis for the choreography and the multimedia projections.

Other mature aged dance companies have alluded to the empowerment that comes from ‘creating a future for the older person’ (Glen Murray, MADE in Tasmania, Inaugural DANscienCE Festival, Canberra, 2013). Given the health burden of remote Australians, and in the spirit of ‘the message is in the media’, the performance comes with a tacit invitation to look at the development of dance and movement arts in rural Australia as having a significant contribution to the cultural change required for health enhancement: physical and cognitive adaptability; emotional and social resilience; and social discourse. Owen Allen

Swings and Flings - Choreography by Joanna Noonan

Performers: The Grey Panthers:  Jenni Sanderson, Judy Markwell, Lillian Mann, Marg Lee, Marge Duminski, Pam Smith, Shirley Somers. 

Tuesday May 26: Grey Panthers and Friends

The Tuesday was a one hour performance showcasing the Grey Panther repertoire. Performing 12 dances they displayed a range of styles and techniques - exciting the audience with their stamina, charisma, camaraderie, and their interaction with other generations. As 'friends' they were joined by Tracks' Pop Up Dance Mob for two numbers under the direction of Kelly Beneforti.

Sway - Choreography Julia Quinn, David McMicken
Fly Me to the Moon - Choreography David McMicken
Who Can Say Sweet November (Only Time) - Choreography Joanna Noonan
Let's Get Physical - Choreography David McMicken
Cabaret - Choreography Jess Devereux
Fever - Choreography Julia Quinn, David McMicken
Uptown Funk (Pop-up Mob) - Choreography Kelly Beneforti
Ballin' the Jack - Choreography David McMicken
One - Choreography David McMicken
Librarians - Choreography David McMicken
Jump Around (joined by the Tracks Pop Up Dance Mob) - Choreography Kelly Beneforti
60 Shades of Grey - Choreography Kelly Beneforti, David McMicken


Grey Panthers: Antonietta Vanzella, Carmel Alderson, Darryl Butler, Diane Lucas, Dianne Mount, Gwen Varney, Jan Hastings, Jenni Sanderson, Judith Allen, Judy Markwell, Judy McKerr, Lillian Mann, Marg Lee, Marge Duminski, Maria Vlastuin, MaryAnn Hinton, Pam Smith, Patricia O'Neill, Shirley Somers, Val Hristova, Zenaida Ballesteros

Friends: Aallyson Malpartida, Chloe Lauverjon, Christopher Kocksch, Danica Walker, David McMicken, Donna Grossule, Kelly Beneforti, Leanne Eltagonde, Ruttiya McElroy, Tully Doole, Venaska Chelliah


Dreamedia, Southern Cross TV, Darwin International Airport

Funding Bodies

Tracks Inc is assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body; and is proudly sponsored by the Northern Territory Government.

Tracks 2015

Artistic Co-Directors: David McMicken and Tim Newth
General Manager: Susan Congreve
Administrator: Clancy Breasley
Production Manager: Kelly Blumberg
Dance Animateur: Kelly Beneforti
Bookkeeper: Heather Van Anholt
Geek in Residence: Jeffrey Withaya Campbell

Committee Members: Michael Grant (Chairperson), Glenn Bernardin, (Treasurer) David Taylor, Ken Conway, Stephanie Cvirn, Mary Durack. David McMicken, Tim Newth, and Susan Congreve (Ex-Officio Members)

Public Fund Trustees: Rev. Steve Orme, Dr Anita Toth, Ippei Okazaki

Patron: His Honour, The Honourable John Hardy OAM, Administrator of the Northern Territory


Explore Further

Older Adults Home Page

Participation Projects


"I cannot believe how stable they are on their feet, they must have wonderful training" - Conference delegate.

"They don't stop, I'm exhausted watching them!" - Audience member on Tuesday night.

"You managed to grab a crowd and keep them, we are very happy" - Conference organiser.




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