Q&A with Ruth Osborne

Ruth Osborne is the Artistic Director of QL2 Dance and a pioneer of youth dance practice in Australia: performing, teaching, choreographing, directing and collaborating.

Here we speak with Ruth about the journey to realise the powerful, collaborative film project, Intersecting Journeys.

Congratulations on the film, Intersecting Journeys, which rolls forward a great advocacy message inside of a beautiful aesthetic! What were some key steps in getting the film created and released, and what’s next for its journey? 

After the Australian Youth Dance Festival was cancelled through national lockdowns in 2021 we wanted to create a project that would bring together young people from 8 YDA companies. With Australia Council funding we commissioned Sue Healey to create 2 films that could sit together to focus on the value of youth dance practice and the companies that provide these opportunities. ‘Meeting Place’ brought dancers from Yellow Wheel and Austi Dance & Physical Theatre together in Melbourne; Stompin and ADT Tread to Adelaide; Wagana and NAISDA College to the Blue Mountains; QL2 Dance and Catapult/Flipside to Newcastle. The choice of the four locations was based on the overarching theme of water connecting us all. The second film ‘ALUMNI’ focused on 16 esteemed dance artists who began their dance journey in one of four youth dance companies. We launched the films under the banner ofIntersecting Journeys’ at the National Film & Sound Archives and Sue Healey has submitted the films into some festivals.  We are yet to decide on the next step.

What was one challenge and one joyful surprise from this deeply collaborative, nation-wide process?

One of the many challenges in this project was reconnecting with these diverse dance artists who are spread across the country and the world, and finding archival footage from their company days while they filmed themselves in their present work environment. The joyful surprise in this complex project was that Sue managed to skillfully direct and edit the footage to highlight the artists’ diverse career directions and the importance of their early exposure to this type of youth dance practice that encouraged them to seek careers in dance.

At a recent screening in November, panelists reflected on the influence that youth dance has had on their lives and continued careers in dance. What did you take away from this conversation?

A few of the panellists discussed how as a member of their company they gained confidence in their creativity and ability to collaborate with others, as well as with the choreographers. They gained lifelong friendships and broadened their network of artists they continue to work with today.

– Ruth Osborne, Artistic Director of QL2 Dance.

Ruth has been a pioneer of youth dance practice in Australia: performing, teaching, choreographing, directing and collaborating. She established the Contemporary Dance Centre, lectured at WAAPA, and was founding AD of Steps Youth Dance Company before moving to Canberra to develop unique programs at the Australian Choreographic Centre. She established Quantum Leap Youth Dance Ensemble, nurturing choreographic literacy in young dancers. As AD for QL2 Dance she has presented youth dance in Australia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Jamaica and Scotland. She won an Australian Dance Award for Services to Dance in 2011 “…for her outstanding contribution to dance education and the development of youth dance practice in Australia”. She directed the 2012 and 2013 Australian Dance Awards. In 2017 Ruth was awarded a Churchill Fellowship to research youth dance practice across the UK and supported the establishment Youth Dance Australia as a network of youth dance companies.