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The Northern Territory boasts one of the most unusual community dance companies in the world.

Tracks performs at venues ranging from Outback ovals to Second World War ruins, from basketball courts to rooftop car parks.

Every performance is unique, created specifically to tell a story relevant to where the dance is performed.

“We’re radically local,” says artistic director David McMicken.

Much of the work is performed in Aboriginal communities in collaboration with elders and schools.

“People are very enthusiastic about what we do. It’s not unusual to have 200 performers – 100 adults and 100 kids. There’s almost 100 percent participation.”

Tracks Dance Company’s best-known performance is Milpirri (Storm Cloud), a much-loved bi-annual event born out of tragedy at Lajamanu, 800 kilometres south of Darwin.

It was inspired by Wanta Jampijinpa following a youth suicide. 

“He couldn’t understand how anybody could become so disconnected from family and community that they wanted to kill themselves,” says Mr McMicken. 

“So we worked with him to create a performance that brings together everyone in the community. 

“The kids perform modern dance – they are not allowed to perform traditional dance until they are initiated. Elders perform traditional dance. It creates a lovely connection between everyone. 

“Teachers see kids who are often troublesome at school behaving themselves and laughing. 

“People are always asking, ‘When is Milpirri on again?’” 

Tracks works in many other communities, including Yirrkala, Coomalie and Alice Springs. 

The company is celebrating its 25th anniversary, although it existed in another form from 1988. 

Mr McMicken, who has training in education, dance, theatre, literature and music, enjoyed a successful career as a performer and director before joining Tracks. 

Tim Newth, who retired as artistic director last year, trained as a visual artist and moved into being a director and works in dance, theatre, and community arts. 

Long-term Tracks choreographer, dancer and collaborator Jess Devereux is Associate Artistic Director. 


Tracks Dance Company 

Harbour View Plaza, Ground Level G03/8 McMinn Street, Darwin City NT 0800 

(08) 8941 1410