close icon

Post-production   /  Hilary Balmond

Champion Girls

Three generations of women reveal their vital connection to the national underground dance phenomenon of physie.


Impact areas





  • DIRECTOR Hilary Balmond

  • PRODUCER Merran Lang



The national underground dance phenomenon of physie has been quietly empowering the nation’s women for over a century. From country halls to the sell out National Finals at the Sydney Opera House, our characters aged 8 - 88, take us beyond the fake tan, and into an unknown world that spans city and country, generations and class. But as the lycra is hand washed and the fishnets are rolled away, they reveal just how vital their connection to this unusual dance sport and community is.

Support this project

17.70% funded
  • $30,000.00

  • $5,310.00

  • November 2019

  • 4

Minimum amount is $ Maximum amount is $





Nicole Burton $20.00
Nicole Burton $30.00
Carmen Smith $20.00

Issue Summary

A short summary of the issue the documentary is addressing

At a time when we are becoming more secular and it’s all about ‘me’ – it is important to have inspiring examples of strong communities that work. With the female only sport of Physical Culture (‘Physie’) at its core - our film explores explores the joy of dance and dancing together, body image, teenage transgressions, the loss and finding of confidence, exercise and mental health, the challenges of motherhood, dealing with ageing, and intergenerational relationships among women.


What is the impact vision statement of the documentary?

The film reinforces the benefits of healthy active aging and the importance of belonging.
We also aim to raise awareness about the existence of activities that promote body positivity and resilience for girls and women and to encourage participation. It broadens the media’s representation of what strong, healthy girls and women look like - introducing a more realistic portrayal of women to counteract non-realistic and damaging depictions that girls and women are bombarded with daily.


What outcomes does the project hope to achieve from making this documentary?

The sport of Physie crosses many divides – it is good for people old and young for their general health and sense of community. In the short term, we aim to increase awareness of how how being part of such a community can help girls and women overcome physical and emotional challenges that they may face as they navigate life. We also hope to challenge the audience’s perception of who can dance and at what age or shape you should stop dancing (or wearing a leotard!).

Physical Culture (Physie, for short) was originally taught in schools in Sydney, Melbourne and Hobart (before PE was introduced). The exercises are thought through in terms of maximum co-ordination and equal body movements. It exercises your brain and is a potential therapy for those who may not have considered it before. Champion Girls may be of interest to health organisations and practitioners who work in the areas of physical and mental health wellbeing and development in children right through to the elderly.


How will this documentary achieve its outcomes?

Champion Girls has already secured a festival screening in October 2019 and a television broadcast for 2020. The film will now reach a wide audience which will include those that have a particular interest in physical and mental wellbeing. These could be PDHPE teachers, mental health practitioners, pre-school or nursing home activities co-ordinators or even local councillors.

The Bjelke Petersen School of Physical Culture remains true to its original moto of ‘A Sound Mind in a Sound Body’. The women of physie have had the courage to keep their sport alive despite some ridicule that it may have attracted over its time. By portraying this unique sport on screen for the first time we hope to set up a sense of admiration for these women rather than ridicule.

We also hope that by girls and women seeing themselves reflected on screen they are encouraged to join activities and supportive communities such as physie.


How will partnerships with this project help inform the project development?

We are yet to form relationships with organisations other than Australia’s largest physical Culture School - The Bjelke Petersen School of Physical Culture. They have been advocates of the film and have helped promote the project through their extensive network.

As the film touches on areas of mental health and disability we would like to have representatives from local health organisations in our audiences or have information to hand about local facilities and resources that audience members can take away with them.

Audience Engagement and Social Impact

What actions does this project hope for its viewers after seeing this film?

We hope that viewers may consider joining their local physie club or a similar dance group – regardless of their age, fitness level or socio economic situation (physie is a financially accessible sport for most people). Information cards may be handed out at screenings by local clubs.

There is also potential for targeted exercise programs/films to be developed in collaboration with physical culture schools where an area of need within a community is identified. This may be discovered at a post screening discussion or via conversations on the Champion Girls Facebook page.

Viewers who are isolated in a community may also be encouraged to join physie to help their mental and physical wellbeing and sense of belonging.

Measurement and Evaluation

What is the projects indicators for success?

During crowdfunding, we had an engaged Facebook audience of 51,696. Our success indicators are via the comments on our Facebook page (see below) and via the Physical Culture schools who keep data on their membership. Currently, the largest growth area within physie is women returning to the sport once they have established their careers and families. Similar data could be accessed from other dance organisations in the towns where the film screens. The success indicator would be that demand for adult, senior or disability classes has increased.

“I first went to Physie when I was 5 in 1949 at Annandale Loved it. Am 72 now and have just discovered there is a club at Yandina Qld 40 minutes drive from where I live. Guess who is going back to Physie next year? I have put myself through a tough time over the last six years, but I know Physie will give me back my confidence. I believe it helps girls gain strength and a belief in themselves which they carry throughout their lives."