Dirty feet dance in Julia Creek

Unique dance festival in Julia Creek gives bush children a taste

Life & Style
Madeline Murphy is one of the talented junior dancers in Julia Creek. Picture by Jo Thieme.

Madeline Murphy is one of the talented junior dancers in Julia Creek. Picture by Jo Thieme.

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Adjudicators from as far away as Germany have helped judge a combined 227 dance routines in the unique Dirty Feet Outback Dance Festival in Julia Creek.

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Adjudicators from as far away as Germany have helped judge a combined 227 dance routines in the unique Dirty Feet Outback Dance Festival in Julia Creek.

Fast becoming known for challenging the mould of traditional eisteddfods, some 54 dancers from Mackay to Mount Isa and all places in between took part in the second annual weekend event.

The enthusiastic and talented dancers, aged between three and 18, were able to participate and be rewarded thanks to the dedication of Amy Tinning.

Ms Tinning returned to the bush five years ago after training professionally, establishing Branches Performing Arts in the north west community.

It rapidly became an active dance school with eager and talented country kids keen to dance competitively, so Ms Tinning travelled the miles with her students to attend eisteddfods and dance competitions.

Read more: Dancer aims for the bright ballet stars

Seeing that Julia Creek's dancers weren't the only enthusiastic aspiring young dancers who were geographically challenged is what gave her the idea of adding the Dirty Feet Outback Dance Festival to the youth dance calendar, as a way of creating more opportunities for dancers to grow and succeed.

Brisbane-based dance adjudicator Olivia Hill worked all weekend as the dancers performing a variety of styles - classical ballet, contemporary, lyrical, tap, jazz, song and dance in solo, duo, trio and group sections.

Ms Hill's reports were positive, encouraging and constructive, ensuring the dance festival was a valuable learning experience.

"The festival offers some really innovative experiences for young dancers," Ms Tinning said.

"The multiple-round junior and senior scholarships, video judged by an international judge, was a great example of one of the ways in which the festival is unique.

"Tamas Moricz of Germany combined his expertise with Ms Hill to judge the scholarship sections, which challenged the juniors to compete in two rounds, starting with contemporary improvisation."

Dancers were competing for a bursary and it was described as a true showcase of talent, creativity and individuality.

Ms Tinning said audience members were blown away by the creativity of the young dancers, who each chose their own music, created their own choreography, and competed with their personal choice of costuming, some under the age of 11.

Read more: More than just ballet in the bush

At the awards presentation, McKinlay mayor and 'dance mum' Belinda Murphy expressed the gratitude that the entire community had for what Ms Tinning has brought to the community.

She highlighted the continual development that the Dirty Feet Outback Dance Festival made possible.

"I am very touched by the dancers who were grateful for the opportunity to take part in the festival and for all the support we have received," Ms Tinning said.

Junior bursary winner Amity Fietz, from the Mount Isa School of Dance. Picture - Jo Thieme.

Junior bursary winner Amity Fietz, from the Mount Isa School of Dance. Picture - Jo Thieme.

Madeline Murphy, Amity Fietz and Mardi McLure were the three junior finalists, with Amity, from the Mount Isa School of Dance awarded the junior bursary championship.

The seniors had three rounds - improvisation, repertoire, then their own choreography.

"Repertoire is an original piece of contemporary dance choreography," Ms Tinning explained.

"In round two, bursary competitors performed the contemporary piece, Irony of Fate, by Sydney Dance Company's choreographer Rafael Bonachela.

"It's a challenging and intricate piece of choreography that encouraged young dancers to step outside of their comfort zone."

Madison Dolzan, Mattea Smith and Amie Pemble were the three senior finalists, and it was Amie Pemble from the Mount Isa School of Dance who was awarded the senior bursary.

The bursaries were valued at over $1000 each.

Senior bursary winner Amie Pemble, from the Mount Isa School of Dance. Picture - Jo Thieme.

Senior bursary winner Amie Pemble, from the Mount Isa School of Dance. Picture - Jo Thieme.

Other awards designed to commend talent, dedication and to encourage development and acknowledge great spirit were made to Savanna Burford from DiLi Dream It, who won the spirit of the festival award for her entertaining and passionate delivery, and Ellianna Bath from Deejays School of Dance, who was the most promising performer, recognised for her great physique, technique and future potential.

Junior bursary finalist Madeline Murphy of Branches Performing Arts took home the junior encouragement award, while the senior encouragement award went to a young tapper, Ben Fitzpatrick from the Mackay Fame & Talent School.

The dance festival fun continued when Olivia Hill shared her knowledge in dance and drama in upbeat master jazz classes for juniors and seniors.

Organisers hope plenty of people will pencil in the 2020 Dirty Feet Outback Dance Festival next September and help them get to triple attendance figures.

Junior encouragement awardee Madeline Murphy, from Julia Creek.

Junior encouragement awardee Madeline Murphy, from Julia Creek.

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