The Wakakirri National Story Festival

Great Stories Inspire Change!

Welcome to Wakakirri, a nationwide initiative for Australian schools that provides a platform for students to express their thoughts, ideas, and aspirations through the art of storytelling and dance. Inspired by the belief that great stories can inspire change, Wakakirri is designed to promote student engagement and well-being in schools through the creation and performance of captivating Story-Dances.

Established in 1992, the Wakakirri Story-Dance Festival is Australia’s largest performing arts event for schools. Held in term 3, this grand celebration showcases the Story-Dances from schools all across the country. With prestigious theatres in major cities and carefully selected regional areas serving as our venues, we ensure that no school is left behind. Even those in remote and regional areas can participate through our innovative Wakakirri Video platform.

At the end of the season, we recognize and honour outstanding schools for their remarkable efforts in promoting positive social change through their Story-Dances.

Join us on this incredible journey of creativity, expression, and inspiration. Together, let’s use the power of storytelling and dance to make a difference in our communities. Experience the magic of Wakakirri and unleash your students’ potential to inspire change.


What is Story-Dance?
A Wakakirri Story-Dance is a 3-7 minute performance where a group of students theatrically tells a story using a combination of dance, creative movement, acting, and pre-recorded music. Primary schools can unleash their creativity by incorporating any combination of dance styles, creative movement, acting, music, props, costumes, sets, and film projections. The possibilities are endless!

  1. Story-Dances can be performed live or submitted via video.
  2. A Story-Dance should be a 3-7 minute performance theatrically telling a story using dance, acting, creative movement, sets, props, costumes, projections, pre-recorded music, and special effects for video entries.
  3. Schools have the freedom to choose any story that is engaging, easy to follow, appropriate, and relevant to the performers. The story should primarily be conveyed through Story-Dancing, which combines dance, creative movement, and acting.
  4. The soundtrack should enhance the story but not solely rely on it for narrative purposes.
    Sets, props, costumes, projections, live singing, and special effects can be incorporated to enhance the storytelling, while considering sustainability and minimising the environmental footprint. We offer special awards to schools excelling in this area.
  5. Schools can choose to incorporate the annual festival motif into their story for an extra challenge, although it’s not compulsory.

What Story can we tell?
At Wakakirri, schools have the freedom to choose any story they wish to tell, guided by our ethos of “great stories inspire change” and the annual festival motif (in 2023, the motif is “CHANGE”). Popular themes include environmental issues, social topics, cultural heritage, health, history, and reconciliation narratives. Each year, hundreds of primary schools across Australia create and perform Story-Dances that reflect their students’ thoughts, ideas, and aspirations.

Ambassadors - website

Which schools can participate?
Every primary, secondary and independent dance/performing arts school are welcome to participate, and group sizes for live events can range from 20 to 120 students. There are no minimum or maximum group size restrictions for video submissions.

Schools have the option to create their own Story-Dance using our online resources, or they can book an Wakakirri Artist in Residence Program, where a Wakakirri specialist facilitator guides the process. Typically, rehearsals span 12 weeks starting in term 2.

Students of all experience levels can participate, with a focus on creative movement and drama rather than technical dance. Our emphasis is on creative storytelling and sustainability, promoting inclusive and imaginative performances without the need for expensive and extravagant productions.

When and where does The Wakakirri National Story Festival take place?
Wakakirri festivals and video screenings take place in Term 3 in major cities and carefully selected regional areas across Australia. Check out our full range of venues and dates here.

Wakakirri celebrates schools that embody the Wakakirri ethos through our ambassadors’ assessments and awards. Outstanding schools that raise awareness, promote community building, and excel in the performing arts are acknowledged with State and National Awards and showcased via our website, local and national media.

Wakakirri photo

Costs and financial assistance
Participation fees for Wakakirri Live are $35 (incl GST) per student which includes pre season workshops, certificates and a streamable copy of your school’s performance. Other costs to consider include props, costumes and transport to the theatre. The fee for Wakakirri Video is $200 (incl GST) per entry. This includes screening, certificates and feedback.

If your school is considering engaging in our Artists in Residence program, we invite you to explore our dedicated Artists in Residence page. There, you will find detailed information about the different programs and their associated costs.

The Wakakirri Inspiration Fund was established to encourage and assist disadvantaged schools to participate in Wakakirri. The fund is filled each year by public donations and grants. Schools can apply for subsidies on participation fees via the fund.

Help creating your performance
To assist schools along the way, Wakakirri provides an array of resources, including video tutorials, Zoom masterclasses, and our “secrets to success” guide. We want to ensure that every school feels supported and empowered throughout their Wakakirri journey.

We understand that schools may need assistance, especially if they are under-resourced or their teachers have limited time. That’s why we offer the Wakakirri Artist in Residence program as a solution. Wakakirri can provide a qualified expert Facilitator that will come to your school and help create a story-dance performance for everyone involved!

  • Wakakirri Live: End of Term 1
  • Wakakirri Video: Term 3 Week 9

Dates advertised are subject to change pending sufficient number of schools participating.  


  • Performance Shows: Canberra Theatre 1st – 3rd August 2023
  • Awards Show: Canberra Theatre 12th September 2023


  • Performance Shows: NIDA 7th – 9th August 2023, Riverside Theatres 14th – 17th August 2023
  • Secondary & Dance Schools Awards Shows: NIDA 4th September
  • Primary Schools Awards Shows: 5th – 8th September 2023


  • Performance Show Only: WIN Entertainment Centre 30th August 2023


  • Performance Shows: Logan Entertainment Centre 21st – 24th August 2023
  • Awards Shows: Logan Entertainment Centre 7th – 8th September 2023


  • Performance Show Only: The Events Centre 10th August 2023


  • Performance Shows: Norwood Concert Hall 8th – 10th, 15th – 17th August 2023
  • Award Shows: Norwood Concert Hall 6th – 8th September 2023


  • Performance Shows: Clocktower Centre 1st August – 3rd August 2023, Frankston Arts Centre 15th – 18th August 2023
  • Secondary & Dance schools Awards Shows: Clocktower Centre 1st September 2023
  • Primary Schools Award Shows: Frankston Arts Centre 4th September & Clocktower Centre 8th September 2023


  • Performance Show Only: Perth Concert Hall 7th August 2023
  • Participation fees for Wakakirri Live are $35 (incl GST) per student which includes pre season workshops, certificates and a streamable copy of your school’s performance. 
  • Optional costs to consider include props, costumes and transport to the theatre. 
  • Parents and friends are invited to watch students perform. Tickets prices start at $36
  • Entry fee for Wakakirri Video is $200 per school (incl GST) which includes pre season workshops, and certificates. 
  • The Wakakirri Inspiration Fund was established to encourage and assist disadvantaged schools to participate in Wakakirri. The fund is filled each year by public donations and grants. Schools can apply for funding each year which can be spent on subsidising Wakakirri student participation fees for the Live event or the Wakakirri entry fee for the Video event. Click here to apply.  Applicable to Primary and Secondary schools only. 2023 applications close 15th March.

Schools can choose to tell any story that they wish. Schools’ performances are often inspired by the Wakakirri ethos ‘great stories inspire change’ and the annual festival motif (in 2023 the motif is CHANGE).  Wakakirri acknowledges schools who exemplify the Wakakirri ethos ‘Great Stories Inspire Change’ (schools efforts in raising awareness, community building and excellence in performing arts).  At the end of the season a special selection of schools are showcased on the Wakakirri website.

Reconciliation Australia Award presented by Reconciliation Australia. Awarded for the creation of an inspired Wakakirri Story-Dance AND community work to increase respect, reduce prejudice or strengthen relationships between the wider Australian Community and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.  Reconciliation Australia resources will be made available for registered schools.

Muffin Break Raising Awareness Award presented by Muffin Break, Awarded for the creation of an inspired inspired Wakakirri Story-Dance AND community work to effectively raise awareness about an important community issue.

National Story Award – Awarded for excellence in performing arts and raising awareness in a story category (Environment, Mental Health & Well-Being, Animal Welfare, Society or Cultural Diversity, Human Rights, History


Wakakirri has chosen CHANGE as the motif for 2023.  The world today is experiencing rapid change. This change has endless possibilities, no matter the outcome. Change can allow us to meet new people, create new experiences, knowledge, achieve great feats and transform lives.

Whitefriars Catholic School, SA
Through the smoke
Holy Cross Primary School, NSW
Reach Out
Daramalan College, ACT
A Life Lived in Fear is a Life Half lived
The Ponds High School, NSW
Wednesday at School
Chapel Hill State School, QLD
Turning Heads, Making Waves
Mango Hill State School, QLD
What About The Children?
Northmead Creative Arts High School, NSW
The Leap
Hoppers Crossing Secondary College, VIC
Be Careful What You Whisper

Click the button below to register or to contact us for more information.

Thanks for our partners