Shirley McKechnie’s influence on Australian Dance is extraordinary. Shirley trained with Daisy Purnitzer, a former member of Gertrude Bodenweiser's Company. In 1963, Shirley founded the Contemporary Dance Theatre of Melbourne.
After traveling abroad on a trip funded by the Theatre Board of the Australia Council, Shirley returned, founded and directed the first degree course for dance studies at Rusden College (now Deakin University), in 1975.
She co-founded the Australian Association for Dance Education (A.A.D.E) with Dr. Warren Lett, Dame Peggy van Praagh and Donna Greaves, in 1977. The association was later renamed Ausdance. Ausdance became the peak national body for dance advocacy.
Shirley has been at the forefront of many incredible initiatives that have helped to establish the Australian Dance sector. Including:
Helping found Tasdance in 1981; being the founding chairperson of the Tertiary Dance Council of Australia (1985–86); as a researcher for the National Library of Australia (1980s–90s); National President, Ausdance (1992 – 94); founder of Green Mill Dance Project (1993 – 97); being awarded the first Australian Research Council grant for choreographic research (Unspoken Knowledges, 1998–2000);
Shirley has had a much celebrated career receiving numerous awards including Order of Australia (1987), the Kenneth Myer Medallion for the Performing Arts (1993), the Ausdance 21 Award for outstanding and distinguished service, and two Australian Dance Awards, including that for Outstanding Achievement in Dance Education (2001). Shirley was also elected an honorary fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities in 1998.
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This season produced in partnership with Ausdance Victoria.