Research and Development Programs

Research and Development Programs

The Search for Innovation

Tracks creates multiple pathways to engage with relevant Northern Territory choreographic research and development processes; in a place where dance is culturally diverse and there is no available Tertiary dance training. Predominantly studio-based choreographic laboratory work, this is a way of ensuring our cultural future by sourcing and supporting new and emerging dance artists. Broad in its reach, divergent in its content, it is a way to revitalise established dance artists and Tracks creative staff.

We take pride in working with local dance artists and continue to invest in the development and employment of the local arts industry. We believe in an intelligent, vibrant, and thriving local arts sector and want our Northern Territory dance artists to be able to give voice to our own culture. Through our Development Program we allow local dance artists to explore, dream, cultivate, test, improve, theorise, and deepen both their own and other people’s engagement with the creative dance innovator.

Choreographic Development Program (2009 - current)

The Choreographic Program provides an opportunity for emerging movement artists and dance-makers to explore the mechanics and creative scope of choreography in an in-depth and process-led environment. The program encourages participants to develop their individual artistry within the supportive framework of an established company. The program is aimed at the tertiary entrance level.

Across 10 - 14 weeks, the program is facilitated by Tracks Dance Animateurs taking participants through lively dance exploration, experimentation, and creative discussion in twice-weekly workshops, fostering more confident and articulate dance artists. The program begins with a weekend intensive,  followed by an immersive, rich, and playful environment for choreographic creativity.

Caught Falling, Choreographic Program 2017 - Jenelle Saunders, Venaska Cheliah, Sheila Rose and Haylen Duncan. Photo Kelly Beniforti.

The participants gain skills and experience in solo and group choreographic investigations. Working and collaborating in a small-group specialised environment, they explore improvisation, movement tasks, choreographic structures and multi-artform experiments.

Led and supported by the animateurs, participants create a short dance piece for a work-in-progress showing with a public audience.

The first Choreographic Development Programs had a strong youth focus, growing out of there being no Territory Dance training being offered in the Northern Territory. Later programs attached a divercity artists both from differing artform and at different stages in their careers. Explore all past Choreographic Programs.

Space Time Studio Residencies (2013 - current)

Dance artists keep calling for two things: a space to work, and time to experiment. In response to the ongoing challenges of the development of dance practice, we annually offer an opportunity for Northern Territory dance artists to use our dance studio, free of charge. This offer occurs over the build up and wet season, when the heat and rain can make it challenging to work in non-airconditioned spaces. The time is to work on contemporary choreographic development, either through research or development. Additionally, we host dance artists who have a connection to the company from time to time throughout the year.

SPACE TIME has 2 tiers:
Up to 40 hours for dance artists with emerging project ideas
Up to 20 hours for dance artists engaging in open research and practice exploration.

While predominantly used to experiment with new ideas, 2016/17, we have also had professional dancers utilising the residency to develop new work, for example 2014/15.

Studio Resident Jordan Bretherton 2018/19 - Darren Edwards, Mitchell Aldridge and Jordan Bretherton. Photo Duane Preston

Make a Dance in a Week (2014 - current)

A program where young people are supported in the nuts and bolts of making a dance. Run over a week during the school holidays, the program is open to primary, middle and secondary school students. Guided by local choreographers the group create a work which is presented at the end of the week, often in a site-specific location.

In the first Make a Dance in a Week 2014 site-specific works were created for the Post Office. While 2017 had a stronger studio focus, and 2016 worked only with males.

Make a Dance in a Week 2017 - Don Mackenzie Ofiaza, Clarissa Blum, Mitch Robinson, Vicki Nguyen, Dayna Montgomery and Grace Hendry. Photo Mat McHugh

Fresh Tracks (2016 - current)

Fresh Tracks presents choreographic ideas and experiments that are driven by the individual artists' curiosities, physicalities, and artistic sensibilities. Artists are encouraged to utilise the resources at Tracks to develop their practice, present original dance work, and engage in dialogue around their artistry. Artists are supported with mentorship, studio time and curated into a performance season, often presented through the Darwin Fringe Festival.

Fresh Tracks 2016 - Kelly Beneforti - Photo Paz Tassone

Fresh Tracks invests in the continuation of strong dance voices in Darwin through research and development, mentoring, critical feedback and presentation opportunities. Tracks recognises the importance of supporting and celebrating the talent, potential and commitment of our local artists.

Fresh Tracks seasons since its conception have been performed in Brown's Mart Theatre - Fresh Tracks 2016. With COVID-19 in 2020 it compelled us to think differently, together, about how we might connect with the independent dance community in Darwin, this led to Fresh Tracks - Homebodies.

Youth Dance Leaders (2002-2007)

The first Youth Dancer Leaders program began with six young people being mentored into the company's activities. Over the following years, new youth entered into the program. They were involved in performing as part of Tracks major Darwin festival seasons, working with guest choreographers, attending the Australian Youth Dance Festival, working alongside Tracks core artists to run workshops, be they in jails, Indigneous communities, schools or with the Grey Panthers (Tracks 60+ performance troupe). To work in the Northern Territory as a dance artist you need to be robust and gutsy, and this training aims to impart this.

The program was run in 2003,  200420052006  and 2007.

Nauiyu Nambiyu (Daly River) Residency - Daniel Baker and Marko Tapo. Photo Tim Newth

Youth dance leaders included: Kristy Rickert, Marko Taopo, Erwin Fenis, Josh Mu, Tim Omaji (Timomatic), Cristina Pantazis, Tara Robertson, Lydia Szczyglowski, Byron Low, Tara Robertson, Jessica Rosewarne, Kelly Beneforti, Imanuel Dado, Karajayne Handberg, Corina Nichols, Vera Tabuzo, Karajayne Handberg, Kathryn Lawrence, Ricky Borg, John Rigas, Caleb Japanangka Patrick and Gerard Japanangka Scobie.

Research into Performance

Tracks dance artists also engage in ongoing research and development.

Indigenous Contemporary

Between Foot and Voice. This research project took place over several years and grew from our attempt to both understand, and convince funding bodies, that work in Indigenous contexts is still contemporary work - that what is often labelled Traditional is actually very current. This led to the Yawulyu dancers of Lajamanu creating an entirely new song and dance cycle based on their experiences with Miss Pink.

Fierce the Story of Olive Pink - Maisie Kajanarra Napangardi Granites, Gladys Napangardi Tasman, Alice Napaljarri Kelly and Molly Napurrula Tasman. Photo Yoris Wilson

Rainstorm Dreaming

Travelling with Warlipiri elders the 12000 km Rainstorm Dreaming path between Alice Springs led to the Ngapa - One Country, Two Cultures. Stories from that country in the Tanami desert introduced us to Miss Olive Pink  "the fiercest white woman in captivity" with led to Shades of Pink, and Fierce, the meeting of Olive Pink.

Ngapa - Henry Jakamarra Cooke, Tim Newth and David McMicken. Photo Yoris Wilson

Side by Side

Darwin Theatre Company's project Side by Side supported three Darwin artists to research and develop new scripts, Tim Newth being one. This led to dance, puppetry and text being utilized in the production Outside the Camp. Based on archival material about Channel Island (in Darwin Harbour and visible from the city) which was a Leprosarium (1931 - 1955).

Outside the Camp - Stanley Stanislaus, David McMicken, Tania Lieman and Ali Mills. Photo Elka Kerkhofs.


Zombies in the Banyan Tree grow out Tracks' long term relationship with Darwin-based Balinese dance artist Putu Desak Wati. The Artistic Co-Directors travelled with Putu to her home village of Pengosekan in Ubud, Bali. The result was a production that combined Balinese, Hip Hop and Contemporary dance styles with a soundtrack performed by a live Kecak Dance Choir and Beatboxer.

Zombies in the Banyan Tree - Keely Sheppard. Photo Jess Devereux.

Snakes and Gods

An Asia Link Residency between Tracks Artistic Director and the Vishawapadma Sansadaya (the Universal Lotus Society) in Peradeniya just outside Kandy, Sri Lanka led to a show with live fully grown Pythons. Snakes, Gods and Deities featured Sri Lankan based Sama Ballet alongside local dance artists.

Snakes, Gods and Deities - Erwin Fenis. Photo Mark Marcelis.

Mapping Our Diversity

The Cultural Mapping Project project allowed Tracks to identify the current artistic and cultural energy in our Culturally and Linguistically Diverse community and to present ideas ion a forum setting. This led to the Hidden Meaning performances and forums.

Hidden Meaning - Teng jie (centre). Photo Mathew McHugh.


Artists such as Jordan Bretherton, Katy Moir, Aaron Lim, Bec Reid, Julia Gray, Jess Devereux, Kelly Beneforti and Emma Porteus have all instigated self-funded mentorships with the company. 

Kelly Beneforti -  Structured Mentorship 2015

Mentorship 2016 - Aaron Lim. Photo Peter Eve

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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