Academic papers from our conferences and journals provide an in-depth look at dance topics. Many are peer reviewed.
This is a working paper in process. It is concerned with the changing status of disciplinary knowledges, in dance and performance, in Australian universities. Although I have been working as an academic within the fields of dance and performance studies for some twenty years, it is only relatively recently that I have begun to reflect critically upon the disciplinary identity of dance studies and dance research, and with some more concrete sense of how these endeavours might be engaged differently.
The manipulation of elements in time for the purpose of creating works of art is common to practitioners in both music and dance. This paper discusses the creation of a contemporary dance work and the ways in which the abstraction of images in modes other than verbal language can present challenges for audiences. In music these issues are not usually clouded by notions of representation as they are in dance. The author discusses the manipulation of abstract qualities in music and dance, presents images on screen and asks “What can dances communicate”. Several important themes arise from the documentation in video and daily journals of a three-year research project funded by the Australian Research Council. The most encompassing of these are the ever-changing dynamic relationships that exist between the choreographer, the dancers, and the ideas and actions which are generated by their interchange. Communication in this context occurs in many modes and is central to the creation of the original work discussed in this case study.
The field of community dance literature is an emergent one, with very little written about the processes and ethical issues experienced in the dance class, workshops or stage. This paper explores problems identified during the development of a new community contemporary dance work, My Body is an Etching. The work began with a creative concept, endeavouring to collaborate with participants in the creation of a dance solo that was personal and discretely individual in the performance of everyday actions, yet accessible to people from all walks of life. The processes involved the identification of deeply etched or embodied actions and the development of these actions within a choreographed score.
This paper discusses the creative exploration of the concept (that human bodies are etched by their experiences), within the context of community dance and the issues that arise when working with such a concept amongst a community of individuals. It reveals the creative methods for the identification and retrieval of individual movement and the conceptual difficulties encountered when individual uniqueness is absorbed within a work for the masses. It asks what happens when a participant’s everyday or personal movement is reproduced for reasons outside its regular context and examines notions of ownership and the negotiation of power and control. The paper reveals ethical issues in the treatment of others’ movement, and refers to the literature of psychology and phenomenology in aligning the creative enquiry with an intellectual force that is interested in forms of memory and retrieval beyond the episodic.
Dance is the fastest growing curriculum subject in New Zealand secondary schools. While this is to be celebrated, responding to the diverse needs and interests of students in the classroom is a constant challenge for teachers. In the light of current educational research concerned with student diversity and cultural identity, this paper discusses strategies implemented by one particular teacher to enhance student participation and engagement in her dance class. The focus is on a professional development process and the changes the teacher made in her practice to develop a culturally responsive teaching and learning environment for her students.
This study looks at how incorporating a somatic approach into dance training can provide an aesthetic experience that engages the whole person and establishes the concepts of feeling and artistry as integrated components of dance education. The research advocates for somatic education to be a feature of dance pedagogy by assisting dancers to differentiate between the tone and texture of feelings on a phenomenological level.
Initiated by London-based choreographer Wayne McGregor and arts researcher Scott deLahunta in early 2000, Entity is part of an ongoing interdisciplinary research project aiming to broaden understanding of the unique blend of physical and mental processes that constitute dance and dance making. One of the research objectives is to apply this understanding to the design of software programmes that can augment the choreographer’s creative process. The first of these programs, the Choreographic Language Agent (CLA), is being built to generate unique solutions to choreographic problems, offering McGregor an alternative set of movement decisions to consider in the creation process. The CLA carries on the tradition of other contemporary choreographers, e.g. Merce Cunningham, Trisha Brown and William Forsythe, in exploring the potential of formal procedures for generating unique movement material through their dancers’ interpretations. This essay discusses and contextualises the design work on the early CLA prototypes.
Dance is a set of interconnected knowledges in which we can be fluent and about which we can be literate. Dance offers multiple opportunities for literacy, among them, fluency in the creative practices of dance making and dance writing and bodily and historical understanding of dance traditions. Throughout this paper, I answer the question “Why dance literacy?” envisioning what the concept might mean for the re-valuing of various ways of knowing and for integrating the body, movement, and dancing into education. I also situate dance literacy within current practice in dance, dance education, and dance scholarship.
Stephen Nachmanovitch (1990, p.73) writes, "Practice is…the linkage of inner knowing and action." Traditional university studio training with specialised vocabularies and techniques often focuses on "the material" rather than on what is "under the material." This paper focuses on the "knowing body" that creates and confirms knowledge through psychophysical experience—a body where symbols, signs and abstract thought are grounded in and through kinaesthesia. In the paper, we explore how in technique, improvisation, composition and choreography, artist-teachers can use reflective processing to honour the body in the mind and the mind in the body.
This section presents diverse experiences and concepts to further our understanding of embodied cognition and embodied knowing; incorporating notions of stillness, becoming, sensory awareness, conditions of liminality, kinaesthetic empathy and somatic and therapeutic practices as well as holistic approaches to the theory/practice nexus.
A conversation between dance and visual arts, a collaboration of Japanese traditional with Australian contemporary movement, viewpoints on experimenting with traditional forms and an intercultural project in Malaysia form the basis for papers in this section.