Professional Dance

Professional Dance

Opportunities and Responding

Since Cyclone Tracy (1974), dance in Darwin has always had a two-way focus: professional dance opportunities and responding to community needs.

Maggi Phillips

In 1974 a professional dance practitioner, Maggi Phillips moved to Darwin, because her parents had moved there. She gave birth to Anna and was fortunate to be absent for Cyclone Tracey. In 1975 post cyclone Darwin, despite all former intentions to devote herself to motherhood, became involved in teaching jazz as after-school activities for the youngsters around. Maggi involved herself in dance teaching at the YWCA and Brown’s Mart Community Arts. This became the basis of Maggi’s Mob and eventuated into Darwin Dance Mob. From here she created a professional and amateur dance culture that brought many prime Australian dance artists to Darwin to choreograph and perform, such as: Margaret Walker, Andris Topp, Cherryl Stock, Bob Thorneycroft, and Peter Matthews. Works were created and toured through the Arts Council of the Northern Territory.

FEATS Unlimited

In 1984 Maggi formed FEATS Unlimited. Established as a Dance-in-education company, FEATS joined Tasdance (Tasmania) as a company that employed professional dancers, to explore the multiple realms of education, performance, and choreographic development. FEATS toured schools and communities throughout the Northern Territory. Maggi was a trailblazer in her work that responded to the needs of her community. This legacy continued through the Dance Programme at Brown’s Mart and into Tracks.

FEATS Unlimited - Maggi Phillips, Meredith Blackburn, Marita Smith, Sarah Calver and Fanci Hitanaya.

Sarah Calver

Sarah was a 1984 graduate of the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts. She came to Darwin to dance under the direction of Maggi Phillips and joined FEATS Unlimited. She remained with that company until its closure. Sarah was then employed to continue the community dance activities through Brown’s Mart where she established the Communtiy Dance Program.

As a performer, teacher, choreographer, and program director, Sarah developed the program to continue to provide both community dance outputs as well as opportunities for professional and trained dancers, both locally and interstate. She also provided opportunities for dance artists from non-western backgrounds to input into the Darwin dance scene. In the early days, under the Brown's Mart Community Arts umbrella, Sarah and Tim Newth were employed as artists to work on projects like the Lajamanu Community Residencies, dance theatre projects with Corrugated Iron Youth Theatre, and Darwin Theatre Company. Sarah continued to seek opportunities for professional dance artists.

North of the Border - Berenice Franklin, Sarah Calver, Deb Batton, John McCormick and Tim Newth. Photo David McMicken.

Professional Dance Seasons

By 1991 Sarah was able to get project funding to support North of the Border. This fully professional project brought artist from interstate as well as local, created new works and Local Troupe was the name given to the part of the program that developed local professionally trained dancers. They met for classes, provided teaching expertise to the Dance Mob, and created new works. This group, working with local community dance groups and individuals, established a strong professional working with passionate amateurs style of community dance event. It was members of this troupe that first became the members of the Tracks Dance Collective.

It was recognised that in order to maintain levels of professional dance activity, opportunities needed to be created to service the specific needs. Works created in this time all had seasons at Brown’s Mart Theatre, and several toured.

Iconic Works

David McMicken and Tim Newth have a working partnership founded in collaboration and long term relationships. Working together for over 3 decades they have established a dance practice that has led to what is now recognised as Iconic Tracks Works. These dance performances have a few things in common: They come from a melding of the professional dance artist who want a dance career and our volunteer dancers who want to develop skills and be actively involved in thier community. Tracks is committed to the highest quality artistic output matched with high-quality engagement with their community.

The Cook, the Queen and the Kelly - Aaron Lim, Paul Coleman, Nick Power and Andy Lay. Photo Peter Eve.

A New Millenium

After a decade of development, Tracks entered the new Millenium not only recognised for our community work but also adept at providing rich and robust dance experiences for our professional dance sector. Our core stable of artists are drawn from the diverse independent dance sector of Darwin and beyond. These dance artists have to be able to perform, choreograph, teach, liaise with cultural groups, work in schools, work in remote Indigenous communities, in general, they had to be like the 4-Wheel-Drives of the dance world. We always believed that dance in our community had to cover the full gamut of activities, across a wide range of practitioners and service the widest choice of participants.

Global Positioning - Jess Devereux and Venaska Cheliah. Photo Duane Preston.

This model of high-level professionals working alongside the expertise found in the community has continued to the present time, creating the signature work that Tracks is recognised for.

Tracks Dance Company Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia.

Tracks Inc is proudly sponsored by the Northern Territory Government.

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