NSW Public Schools State Dance Festival

Kindergarten to Year 12

The State Dance Festival is held at the Seymour Centre in Sydney and showcases choreographed dance works from NSW public school students. Encompassing different dance styles, items explore the art of dance to achieve high-quality and engaging performances reflecting the diversity of learners across NSW. Items are underpinned by creativity, safe dance practice, technique, confidence, cooperation and respect for one another.

The State Dance Festival provides schools with the experience of performing in a professional performance space, supported by a professional theatrical production. During the festival, schools can engage in student dance workshops and teacher professional learning.

Featuring students from Kindergarten to Year 12, each performance will display the passion, skills and creativity of students and teachers as they explore the art of dance.

Performance of Boy Overboard at the 2019 State Dance Festival

2024 State Dance Festival

The State Dance Festival celebrates classroom dance achievements of students from Kindergarten to Year 12.  The Festival runs across 5 days (6 performances), with students participating from across NSW.


Monday 16 to Friday 20 September 2024 (Term 3 Week 9)

Performance times

Daily performances 7:00 pm


Everest Theatre, Seymour Centre, Chippendale


General admission tickets are available from mid-August; please contact the Seymour Centre Box Office directly at 9061 5344 or refer to their booking information page.


Regional dance festivals

For details on regional dance festivals, please visit Local arts programs.

Nomination guidelines for school items

Nomination guidelines

  • Choreography employs safe dance practice demonstrating movement appropriate to the age and ability of the performers. 
  • Choreography demonstrates a creative response to dance as an art form through the development of a concept/intent or theme that is expressed consistently throughout.
  • Choreography demonstrates an understanding of choreographic principles, processes and structures, including:
    • manipulation and variation of the elements of dance
    • manipulation of the motif (as relevant to the style of dance)
    • use of the performance space including formations and pathways
    • form and structure.
  • Students demonstrate strong performance quality, group cohesion, consistency and commitment.
  • Costumes and music support the concept/intent or theme while being appropriate for the age of the performers and supporting the values of public education.
  • If props are used, they should be integral to supporting and communicating the concept/intent or theme.

Item requirements

  • Schools, including community of schools and regional ensemble programs, may nominate a maximum of 4 items.
  • Ensembles must have a minimum of 6 and a maximum of 30 students.
  • Items should utilise the 10 m x 12 m stage space as relevant to the intent of the work.
  • Schools are encouraged to use teachers or students as choreographers for their item/s.
  • Primary items must not exceed 5 minutes in length; secondary items must not exceed 7 minutes in length.
  • Where possible, schools/ensembles should perform at the area/regional dance festival.
  • Music and lyrics must be relevant to the age and experience of the performers, complement the intent of the item, and be suitable for public performance in a Department of Education setting.
  • Choreography must be original work created in accordance with copyright guidelines. 
  • Copyright information regarding the source of music (CD/iTunes) must be provided for department records. 
  • Items will be recorded and may be published online. Please refer to the publishing guidelines below. 
  • Nominating teachers are responsible for supplying performance footage for nominated items to be considered by the State Dance Festival selection panel.

How to prepare your group 

Schools nominating for the State Dance Festival are strongly encouraged to participate in their local regional dance festival where possible. Participation in your local regional dance festival provides vital performance experience, develops stagecraft and promotes and celebrates dance in your community. 

Selection process for nominated items

The panel will assess items based on choreography, technical skill and performance quality, the overall cohesiveness of the piece in relation to style, geographical representation, age group of performers and the relevance of the piece according to dance curriculum outcomes. The panel carefully considers all applications and liaises with local festival coordinators and Arts Coordination Officers to support inclusion and representation from across NSW. 

Variation to applications

Schools that are unable to be involved in their local regional dance festival or have considerations that fall outside of the above guidelines, please contact the Dance Team on dance.artsunit@det.nsw.edu.au.

Publication of items

Successful items will be recorded and may be published on the Arts Unit website as a resource. In order to be published, items need to comply with the following music copyright guidelines.

Schools may use commercial music in the backing tracks of their performances, but this usage must adhere to the terms of the Schools Music Licence:

  • Music must be commercially available and legally purchased.
  • Music tracks may not be overlapped or mixed together (only hard cuts within or between tracks are allowed).
  • Spoken words may be added over the top of a music track, but these spoken words must not be taken from a sound recording that belongs to another copyright holder that has not granted permission for its use  (for example, lifting a voiceover from a film, television show, podcast, YouTube documentary, etc). Choreographers may write and record their own voiceovers.

For more information about what is allowed under the provisions of the Schools Music Licence, please contact Smartcopying.

Additionally, in order for videos to be published online all students will need to have Authority to film and record.

State Dance Festival 2022 - Q&A with Rafael Bonachela

Rafael Bonachela, Artistic Director, Sydney Dance Company and Dance Program Ambassador for The Arts Unit, answers students' questions and provides insight into the world of dance.

All Arts Unit programs are inclusive. If support is required to participate in the NSW Public Schools State Dance Festival, please email dance.artsunit@det.nsw.edu.au so that we can assist.