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Dancers seize the moment
Elise May in R&J. Picture: Chris Herzfeld.

The celebratory mood of WA's first contemporary dance festival has been capped off by twin triumphs at the Australian Dance Awards, which were held in Perth for the first time on Saturday night.

The nation's dance stars turned out in style at the State Theatre Centre, where former WA Ballet leading lights Barry Moreland and Darryl Brandwood picked up two of the night's 10 awards for Helix, their independent dance show conceived to highlight Brandwood's solo artistry.

Moreland and Brandwood won the award for Outstanding Achievement in Independent Dance while Brandwood received the Outstanding Performance by a Male Dancer award.

Moreland, now an international freelance choreographer, is a former artistic director with WA Ballet, where Brandwood danced for many years before recently joining Natalie Weir's dance company in Brisbane.

Weir, the artistic director of Expressions Dance Company, was acknowledged for her chorography on R&J, a dynamic and innovative interpretation of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.

Expressions dancer Elise May received the best female dancer prize for her performance in R&J, which was described as a brave and memorable showcase of her impressive physical strength.

Bangarra Dance Theatre, which will be touring its latest show to WA in a month's time, won Outstanding Performance by a Company for Belong, which came to Perth in mid-2011.

The Belong double-bill comprised Elma Kris' About, an evocative physical realisation of the winds of the Torres Strait, and Bangarra artistic director Stephen Page's ID, which expressed the complexities of Aboriginal identity.

Other awards went to Sydney's Shaun Parker and Company for The Yard, Bryan Mason and Sophie Hyde for their film about Tanja Liedtke, Northern Territory dance educator Sarah Calver and former Australian Ballet soloist Lucinda Sharp for her dance psychology.

Nanette Hassall, the head of dance at the WA Academy of Performing Arts, received a standing ovation when she was presented with the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award for more than 40 years work as a performer, choreographer, teacher and dance company founder.

The night also included performances from the Australian Ballet, the Australian Dance Theatre and WA's new Ochre Contemporary Dance Company.

THE WINNERS

Lifetime Achievement Award
Nanette Hassall

Services to Dance
Lucinda Sharp

Services to Dance Education
Sarah Calver

Outstanding Achievement in Youth or Community Dance
Shaun Parker and Company for The Yard

Outstanding Achievement in Choreography
Natalie Weir for R&J, Expressions Dance Company

Outstanding Performance by a Company
Bangarra Dance Theatre for Belong

Outstanding Achievement in Independent Dance
Barry Moreland and Daryl Brandwood for Helix

Outstanding Performance by a Female Dancer
Elise May for R&J, Expressions Dance Company

Outstanding Performance by a Male Dancer
Daryl Brandwood for Helix

Outstanding Achievement in Dance on Film
Bryan Mason & Sophie Hyde for Life in Movement