Self-determination of Independent Dance Artists bolstered by the Think Tank Dance Assembly

Ausdance-VictoriaAn exciting and experimental artist-led, self-determined and uniquely collaborative model, Think Tank Dance Assembly (TTDA) has received financial support from Ausdance Victoria through Creative Victoria’s Stage 2 funding grant.

Instigated out of a need for independent dance artists to have agency within the dance sector, TTDA is a porous assembly for independent dance artists to discuss shared interests and strategies.

Inclusive of undergraduates through to established dance artists, TTDA is predominantly focused on the dance community in Melbourne/Naarm, but open to artists and discussions from further afield. The group currently has a social media network of 244 artists.

Responsive to the needs and concerns of its members, TTDA activities include research, advocacy, collaboration and development of strategies that can help sustain dance artists, their practice and the artform into the future. TTDA is also producing DAMN Writing – a digital collection of texts that identify issues and needs for the future.

The online platform, catalysed by the COVID lockdown and live performance hiatus, will elaborate on ideas posed during discussions, both within TTDA and the broader sector. DAMN Writing will be made available to anyone interested in learning about issues surrounding independent dance practice.

“TTDA is interested in advocating for independent dance practice across its multiple processes and outcomes, structures and desires,” said TTDA members. “Rather than being at the bottom of the pyramid, we desire to be central to discussions taking place around opportunities for creative research, development of practice and presentation and dispersion of our work.”

“Our focus is on addressing what independent dance artists need now, envisage new models and strategies for the sector’s short- and long-term futures, and push for a seat at the table where decisions are made – decisions that affect our livelihood and careers.”

As a peak body for Dance in the state, Ausdance Victoria is the voice for the many people in the Victorian dance sector impacted by the coronavirus. While the health crisis has affected everyone in the sector, Ausdance Victoria is cognisant of the fact that one of the most affected sub-sectors have been the Independent dance artists.

“In this post pandemic era, Ausdance Victoria recognises the urgency to address immediate sector needs: laying the necessary foundations for fostering greater self-determination, equity, and access among dance practitioners,” said Michelle Silby, Executive Director, Ausdance Victoria. “Through this funding, we will be able to provide practical support for independent dance artists, and administrative and marketing support for TTDA.”

“By bolstering the capacity of an assembly like TTDA, we wish to lay a foundation for a much-needed shift of the power-dynamics within the dance sector, toward greater self-determination and equity, particularly for independent dance practitioners.”

TTDA holds regular meetings and zoom events, centred around All-In Meetings – an opportunity for the community to check in and report back on the activities, thinking and meetings taking place within the wider TTDA community. The group also meets regularly with local dance organisations and peak bodies and delves into more specific issues and topics on an ad-hoc basis through focus groups.

“By supporting TTDA, Ausdance Victoria recognises the contribution and expertise of independent dance artists through paid advice and through the dissemination of artist-led insights into independent dance practice,” adds Michelle.

For more information about the Think Tank Dance Assembly, visit: for details.

Image: artwork by Alice Dixon