2018 & 2019

The Lifetime Achievement Awards honour Australian dance people who have made outstanding contributions to the profession, raising the profile and prestige of dance in Australia for more than 40 years.

 The 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award goes to Jill Sykes AM, and the 2020 Lifetime Achievement Award goes to Janet Karin OAM.

The presentation of the Australian Dance Awards is a highlight of the Australian dance calendar, bringing together all sectors of the dance industry to celebrate the best and brightest of all forms and cultures of dance. The Awards will be presented online on Tuesday 8 December 2020 at 7.30 pm AEDT.


Jill Sykes has been writing about the arts, dance in particular, since 1960 when she began working as a cadet journalist in Adelaide with The Advertiser. She has been freelancing since 1979 and is respected as a dance writer and critic for the breadth of her outlook, which encompasses all forms of dance; for the honesty of her approach; and for the inspiration her reviews and articles generate for her readers.

Growing up in Adelaide, Jill saw her first dance performance when not quite six years old when the British company, Ballet Rambert, brought its production of Giselle to Adelaide. Her love of dance, and the arts in general, began then. Sykes travelled to London in 1965 and joined the reporting staff of The Evening News, eventually becoming one of that newspaper’s dance critics. Back in Australia, she was employed by The Sydney Morning Herald as a news reporter in 1972 and soon became its dance critic as well. Sykes left The Herald’s fulltime staff in 1979.

Since 1979 she has written a wealth of dance reviews and articles, which have appeared in newspapers, including regularly in The Sydney Morning Herald, and in a wide range of other newspapers, dance magazines and journals in Australia and overseas. She is the author of The Sydney Opera House: from the outside in and has contributed to the Currency Press Companion to Theatre in Australia and, most recently, Routledge’s Shaping the Landscape: Celebrating Dance in Australia, published in 2012 and updated in 2020.

Jill also writes about theatre, music and the visual arts and in 1995 was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for her service to the arts. In 1997 she was the recipient of an Australian Dance Award for Services to Dance.


For over 60 years Janet Karin has been a significant force in the world of Australian dance. She has been respected as a dancer, teacher, artistic director, mentor, researcher and academic, and in each of those roles has shown a deep commitment to dance and an intelligent and searching approach to the growth of the art form.

Janet began her performing career with Laurel Martyn’s Victorian Ballet Guild, danced with the Borovansky Ballet in its final season, and joined The Australian Ballet as a founding member in 1962. She was promoted to principal in 1966. Memorable roles with The Australian Ballet include those in Melbourne CupLes Sylphides and Aurora’s Wedding, and she received exceptional reviews for her dramatic interpretation of Myrthe, Queen of the Wilis, in Giselle and Clytemnestra in Robert Helpmann’s Elektra.

After retiring from The Australian Ballet in 1967 Janet moved to Canberra and, with her then husband Bryan Lawrence, established the Bryan Lawrence School of Ballet, later to be renamed as National Capital Ballet School. In Canberra she initiated the Karin System of Ballet Training, which presented dance as both a means of personal enrichment and as an art form. Above all, it was never a static method of teaching and learning but was constantly evolving in response to new developments in science and the arts and in teaching methodology.

In 1997 Janet left Canberra to work for Ross Stretton, a former student who had been appointed as Artistic Director of The Australian Ballet. With Stretton she worked to enable the expansion of The Australian Ballet’s repertoire with new acquisitions from leading choreographers. Karin also taught at The Australian Ballet School from 2001 to 2016, in particular in the area of kinetic studies, where she worked on the application of neuroscience principles to elite ballet training.

Janet has served on the Dance Committee of the Australia Council; as President of the International Association for Dance Medicine and Science (IADMS); the Board of the Australian Society for Performing Arts Healthcare, and has published widely in internationally recognised journals. She was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in 1989; the Australian Dance Award for Services to Dance Education in 2014 and the 2015 IADMS Dance Educator Award.

(Citations prepared by ADA panel member Dr Michelle Potter)


Ausdance NSW is the key support & advocacy body, for the creation, presentation and practice of dance in NSW.

Ausdance NSW is part of the Ausdance National Network.

Ausdance acknowledges and respects the Traditional Custodians of the Lands on which we work and dance and pays respect to elders past, present and emerging. 

Contact Info

10 Hickson Road, Level 3, Arts Exchange Buliding, The Rocks, Sydney 2000
02 9256 4800

ABN 36 824 207 095