Participation Projects

Participation Projects

Get On The Dance Floor

People dance with Tracks for so many different reasons. Some want to feel alive in their bodies, others feel they have something to say, while some want to be dancers and choreographers as a career. At Tracks we believe that everyone should have the chance to enjoy dancing, making dance, and to creatively participate in the development of their own local culture. The Tracks Participation Program is about engaging in dance as a whole of life activity and presenting it publicly. This program provides diverse opportunities to be involved in a project at Tracks; everything from large-scale one-off participatory performances to smaller pop-up performances, and even the chance to be seen on stage at some of Darwin's largest events.

Tracks Youth Dancers, Vera Tabuzo (front) - Arafura Games Opening. Photo Palm Photographics

Tracks and the Brown's Mart Era

From 1988-1997 Tracks dance was operating as the Brown’s Mart Community Arts Community Dance Program, (taking on the name Tracks in 1994). During this time, we were in close association with the other Brown’s Mart community program areas including Corrugated Iron Youth Theatre, Fringe Festival, Community Arts Projects, Indigenous Residencies, Multicultural Arts, Music Therapy, and the community newspaper Lightning Times. This allowed the Dance Development Officers, (firstly Sarah Calver, and then joined by David McMicken), to work across the various programs and with many different groups. We were also able to maintain our dance specific classes and performances run through the weekly Darwin Dance Mob classes for children, teenagers, adults, and older adults, and Local Troupe for trained dancers. Many performance opportunities were created to allow for full community participation. For most of these, it was about getting as many dancers and groups to present their work in showcase situations.

Dorethea Randall and David McMIcken - Yipirinya After the Rain. Photo Tim Newth

Dance on Darwin saw 41 dance groups perform at the Darwin Performing Arts Centre. While community residencies in Lajamanu (a remote Indigenous Community), Jabiru (a mining town on the edge of Kakadu National Park), and at the Yipirinya indigenous School in Alice Springs gave people outside Darwin chance to join in the fun of dancing.

Many classes and workshops were taught in various schools around Darwin, often leading to short performances at various events, including Open House and Mixtures at the Mart.

Participation Relationship Performance

We often say 'our company is our community'.  We want our company to reflect our community's makeup; be that age, culture, ability, or social interest. Having a whole of life approach to dance and making ourselves actively aware of the many diverse dance voices and languages in Darwin means we actively make sure of this inclusion.

When someone participates in a Tracks activity this is the start of a relationship. It is from this relationship that new performance grows. Most performers within a Tracks show volunteer to perform, exploring their passion to be a part of something. They choose to give up their time to be part of an artistic process, led and shaped by Tracks Artistic Directors and Dance Animateurs. 

Love Vs Gravity - Bradley Alderson (Ben Tyler), Bart Robertson, David Taylor, Glenn Bernardin and Neil Ludvigson. Photo Therese Ritchie

Warlpiri dance from the Tanami desert, Balinese hand and eye movement, street Breakdance, or contemporary forms of release and improvisation are all informers of our making process, and deepen the dance language of a Tracks show. Our diverse community people's personal heritage and lineage shape and drive content. If you are a young person you are an expert at being young, as is a 70-year-old grandmother expert at knowing how an old person moves. When you have the real thing in your neighbourhood, why not work with them to add their story to our living culture.

Early shows like Dance Feast, Tracks and Clusters, and Thru Moves bring together individuals and groups, people who maybe linked by age or culture. Social awareness issues have led to the drawing of participants and artistic vision together in performances like Bodies of Light and Love Vs Gravity, performed on World Aids Day.

Tracks Iconic works grow from participation united with artistic vision.

Core to Our Practice

Tracks incorporated in 1999. We had moved away from Brown's Mart Community Arts and were working from Frog Hollow Centre for the Arts. Very soonafter, we moved to multi-year funding from both the Northern Territory and Federal Governments. We entered a new phase where we were in charge of our own programming. Participation remained a core element of our practice. By 2003 we had our own dance studio for the first time. With the employment of Dance Animateurs from 2001, we were able to create our own participatory classes and workshops, provide pop-up performance opportunities and head into large-scale dance projects such as Big Dance, Tracktivation, and En Masse.

Big Dance CBD Darwin - Kate Dyer, Francisca Kleinebeck and Jenni Sanderson. Photo Duane Preston

In 2018 Tracks moved to Harbour Veiw Plaza giving birth to a new era of partication for the company. New projects like the Dead Singers Dance Society and old ones like the Grey Panthers fill our new studio with people and the joy of dancing with others.

Dead Singers Dance Society

For full fun and large group participation, The Dead Singers Dance Society is the most inclusive secret society there is. A series of four classes and you learn a routine created to a medley of songs from a singer who is no longer with us. By 2020 we had routines made to Prince, Whitney Houston, Donna Summer, George Michael, Michael Hutchins, and Aretha Franklin.

The Dead Singers Dance Society - Photo Duane Preston

The Grey Panthers

Brought together to perform in Dance Feast in 1988, still going today, this is arguably the longest-running Older Adults community dance group in Australia. With a weekly class and many community performances, the Grey Panthers never cease to delight. 

Last Light - Jenni Sanderson, Janine Sutter, Antonietta Vanzella and Maria Vlastuin. Photo Peter Eve

Classes are held in both Darwin and Coomalie regions. All you need to do, is be over 60 years young.



Community residencies in Lajamanu (a remote Indigenous Community), Jabiru (a mining town on the edge of Kakadu National Park), and at the Yipirinya Indigenous School in Alice Springs have given people outside Darwin a chance to join in the fun of dancing.

1989 Lajamanu Residency and Tour - Amos Japangardi Poulson and Tim Newth. Photo Harsh

In Lajamanu there are dancers in families that have been active with the company for over three generations.

Working with Diverse Dancers

The two projects Open House and Gathering Ground ran for three years in the 1990's. Open House was developed to provide performance experience for locals and was set inside the Brown’s Mart Theatre. It was short works, or new dance works in development. Gathering Ground eventuated as a way to fit more groups of dancers people together in a setting that was outdoor, and celebratory. It also allowed Tracks to provide more direction and mentoring to community groups and structuring of the whole event.

Kulay Lupa (Betchay Mondragon and Judith Fenton) - Open House. Photo David McMicken

School Work

In the early days many classes and workshops were taught in various schools around Darwin, often leading to inclusion in short performances at various events, including Open House and Mixtures at the Mart. We also incorporated school students into many community shows.

Landed - Aga Manulid, Bethany White and Don Ofiaza MacKenzie (Casuarina Senior College). Photo David Hancock

More resently schools groups and youth dancers are invited into our major productions though a connection to the work's theme. Other students participate in development projects to extend their dance-making skills.

Come Together

People love coming together in large numbers and dancing together. When invited to participate in the Australian component of the International Big Dance Project, we leapt at the idea. We performed on Darwin's Iconic Mindil Beach with a classic big sky Darwin sunset over the harbour as the backdrop. Our Next Big Dance was performed in a CBD carpark stack. We created our own large-scale participation dance En Masse with a very local Darwin flavour and stormed Darwin's Civic park as a group of marauding tourists.

Big Dance Mindil Beach. Photo Yvonne Webb


In ten weeks of 2018, Tracktivation saw 118 activities and city dance experiences enjoyed by a combined audience and participation of 4,891 people, activating the Darwin CBD. Some of the larger participation events were cancelled due to Cyclone Marcus shutting the city down

Tracktivation (Dance Doctors) - Bryn Wackett, Jordan Bretherton and Kelly Beneforti. Photo David McMicken

Company Partners

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 Dance Company Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia.

Tracks Inc is proudly sponsored by the Northern Territory Government.

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