Australian Dance Theatre celebrates 50th anniversary

Australian Dance Theatre will celebrate another milestone tonight with the launch of their 50th anniversary program.

Australian Dance Theatre celebrates another milestone tonight with the launch of their 50th anniversary program, which in 2015 will see the Adelaide based company reflect on its rich history while continuing to chase new opportunities. Speaking today ahead of the launch, Artistic Director Garry Stewart was excited to welcome back founding Artistic Director Dr Elizabeth Cameron Dalman OAM as Patron for this diamond anniversary year. “We’re acknowledging the history of the company, and at the centre of it is Liz,” Stewart explains. “She set up a template, a way of thinking about dance and engaging with contemporary culture and society that’s informed later directors,” he says. Founded in 1965, ADT was Australia’s first professional contemporary dance company. The company remains proudly Adelaide-based, fending off attempts by various levels of government over the years to lure the company interstate. “They pressured me to take it to Sydney and I went, ‘why?’,” Dalman laughs. “It’s extraordinary,” Stewart says, “there’s this incredible tenacity and resilience in the company, and Liz had amazing foresight in keeping it in Adelaide.” According to Dalman it was the early 1970s when the company really hit its stride, achieving recognition overseas and at home. “We were applauded overseas in those times because we had an Australian flavour,” she says. “It was something different from Europe, different from America, like a window opening into Australia’s identity, and people were hungry for that kind of thing.” “In 1971 we had a very successful tour to eight different countries in South East Asia, and of course once all the reports came back we were met at the tarmac and thrown a party by [then Premier] Don Dunstan,” she recalls. Now in his fifteenth year at the helm, Stewart is excited about the company’s future in 2015 and beyond. Along with a 50th Anniversary Gala, exhibition and commemorative book produced in collaboration with Wakefield Press and author Maggie Tonkin, his team are working especially hard to bring their work to new audiences and environments. “It’s a really exciting time for dance,” he says. “The internet, reality TV and YouTube have come together in a cultural moment to place dance in a really interesting position in the community – it’s demystified dance.” “In this day and age people are really receptive to dance and performance, and taking it outside the theatre to locations you wouldn’t normally find dance,” he said. Fittingly, the 2015 program features initiatives like a 24-hour dance marathon, and most intriguingly the construction of a large clear cube to be used as a “hermetically sealed” portable performance space. They will also be expanding their international horizons, touring through new markets and territories in South American and Asia. “It is interesting having the moniker Australian Dance Theatre, because the company is stamped with the country’s name and we’re representing the country audiences want to see us because they’re curious what Australian dance is like,” Stewart says. 2015 Australian Dance Theatre Program 50th Anniversary Gala Thursday July 16-Saturday July 18 Dunstan Playhouse, Adelaide Festival Centre Founders’ Celebration Wednesday June 10 Adelaide Arcade Exhibition Friday September 11 – November Festival Theatre Foyer, Adelaide Festival Centre Commemorative Book November via Wakefield Press Australian Dance Awards Saturday September 12 Her Majesty’s Theatre, Adelaide For more information and the full 2015 program visit Archival image of Elizabeth Cameron Dalman courtesy Jan Dalmon.

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