The son of a stockman who became a choreographer and took charge of an internationally touring Australian dance company based in Adelaide is about to launch a new national festival there. Not only will this festival be a curated snapshot of the state of contemporary dance, but, he says, it will be broad enough to acknowledge that “everyone has a body, everyone moves, everyone dances”.

The Beginning of Nature . Photo © Chris Herzfeld, Camlight Productions

Garry Stewart, Artistic Director of Australian Dance Theatre for 19 years, is wearing a second director’s hat overseeing the inaugural Adelaide Dance Festival, which includes performances, workshops, installations, talks and master classes over two weeks this month, giving Adelaide a new mid-winter arts attraction, away from the city’s crowded late summer calendar.

“It’s almost a festival looking at philosophies of the body,” Stewart tells Limelight. “It’s not just about audiences in theatres, although that’s very important. It’s not just about work that’s conceptual. There is a lot of possibility for community participation.”

Born in Gunnedah in north-eastern NSW but mainly raised much further south in the town of Forbes, Stewart dropped his social work studies after he discovered dance...