More than 700 people from the architecture and design industry recently came together for a unique event raising an epic $154,000 for ReachOut Australia. The event – Dance for Life – is a dance competition where teams from Australian interior design firms compete against each other for the most creative, hilarious and memorable routine, all in support of young people’s mental health.

The event is organised by a passionate group of people who collaborate across corporate borders to bring their industry together, with two companies at the helm: Business Interiors and ThinkingWorks.

The inaugural Dance for Life was in 2012, when Megan Byrne, Brand Specialist at Business Interiors, and collaborators Amy Tang and Alvin Cruz thought they’d run a small fundraiser. ‘We originally wanted to do a small ‘80s dance comp with 50 or 100 people. And then we had a chat to some of the design companies who said “let’s make this bigger”. They were so excited about the idea,’ says Megan.

‘We have a young industry and that’s why we originally decided to support ReachOut. We wanted something that they could relate to. In just four years the acceptance and awareness of mental health in our industry has increased so much but there’s obviously more that we need to do.’

Dance for Life had a blockbuster second showing in 2013, but since then has lain dormant. ThinkingWorks Marketing Manager Maria Zarotiadou says that 2017 was the time to bring it back to life. ‘The industry was pressing us, asking us “when are we doing it again?!” It’s great fun, they’re raising funds for an important cause they relate to, and interior designers are quite competitive – so it makes sense. They’re so excited that Dance for Life is back.’

Dean Kuch, Managing Director of ThinkingWorks, is delighted to have his company support the event. ‘It’s a good cause and it’s so much fun – and the design companies take it so seriously! These people are creative by nature and some of the things they do are unreal,’ says Dean.

Maria agrees, saying that even though the designers put in long hours at work, their choreography practice in the lead-up to Dance for Life makes them so energised. ‘You have to hear some of them: they want to have glitter guns and smoke machines on stage! They’re loving it. The companies we’re working for embrace it with a lot of love.’

This year, the team smashed their fundraising goal thanks to the dedication of the dance teams and the generosity of their colleagues, companies, friends and families. Megan says, ‘$150k is phenomenal. I never thought we’d get that. I was absolutely blown away by the effort from everyone to achieve this. Everyone involved is so busy and to do the dancing and organising, and to fundraise on top of that – I just can’t believe they did it.

‘We’ve already started organising the next one. It’s going to be circus-themed. We’re going to take it up to a whole new level. Our only concern is how we beat $150k in funds raised! We’ve got a few surprises in store so it’s going to be amazing.’

Dean says he wants to see Dance for Life grow. ‘I want to see this year as the start of Dance for Life being reborn. There’s no way in the world we’re going to let it fall asleep like it did the last couple of years. We’ve got to get other states involved after this year, too. I hope we raise a lot of money – and I think we’re going to!’

ReachOut CEO Jono Nicholas says Dance for Life makes an impact not just through the funds raised for ReachOut, but through the people reached by the event. ‘Dance for Life’s participants and organisers aren’t just raising funds for youth mental health, they’re raising incredibly valuable awareness of our cause.

‘By bringing their energy and creativity to this event, they’re showing Sydney that youth mental health is a really important cause. It’s a powerful message to their friends, families, and the architecture and design industries. We’re so grateful for everyone’s support.’

Make sure you don’t miss Dance for Life 2018 – subscribe to the ReachOut newsletter below and we’ll keep you in the loop.

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