Choreographic development

Documenting the influence of travel on my artistic practice

Gabrielle Nankivell, the inaugural recipient of the Ausdance Keith Bain Choreographic Travel Fellowship, shares her travel story, research notes and workbook from Vienna, Munich, Barcelona and Berlin, where old and new influences shape her practice.

The subject of travel and professional development, and the value this experience offers artistic practice, arises regularly in the dance arena. As artists we seek these experiences because we are hoping to find something other than what we know or perhaps even something that makes us finally feel at home – either way, we are seeking something to ignite our imaginations and to deepen our knowledge and empathy. We hope to meet people, build new relationships and share practice. We imagine it will generate energy and feed our motivation. We take to the road to connect with others and to connect with our selves. To paraphrase the sentiment of many a wanderlust quote, travel opens the mind and makes the heart grow... We know and the philanthropists know. Travel and international exchange is a good thing.

Patrick (Lucky) Lartey receives Keith Bain Choreographic Travel Fellowship

Patrick (Lucky) Lartey is a Sydney-based dancer and choreographer, originally from Ghana, West Africa. In September this year he was awarded the Keith Bain Choreographic Travel Fellowship, which provides financial assistance for an emerging choreographer to travel internationally with the sole purpose of developing and extending their choreographic practice.

Unrooted and rerouted ‘otherness’ in an international nexus

Nerida Matthaei, Australian dancer, choreographer and artistic director of Phluxus2 Dance Collective shares her experience of the World Dance Alliance Korea Choreolab and conference. Nerida received the Chin Lin Award for the best young scholar for her Pecha Kucha presentation at the World Dance Alliance Asia Pacific conference in Korea.

Gaps in the body: attention and improvisation

Fraser writes of having arrived at an understanding of improvisation that, rather than being about moving, is about ‘attention’. Instead of using an (imagined) objective view of a body to generate or create interesting or new movements, he employs a kind of noticing from the inside to move with his body, to cooperate with it as it fluctuates and changes. This noticing is full of ‘gaps’ and his attention is drawn to certain physical sites only to be lost as the noticing of a particular area swells, is dispersed or is replaced by a more immediate physical concern.

What’s the score? Using scores in dance improvisation

Olivia Millard explores the use of scores or verbal propositions in improvising dance. Examining the use of scores in her improvisation practice, she discusses what scores might be and might do and how they relate to the real time composition of dance in the present of its making. To help explore these ideas I refer to the theory of Nelson Goodman and discuss the use of scores by other dance practitioners including Steve Paxton, Yvonne Meier and Anna Halprin.

Dance improvisation: why warm up at all?

This article looks at a particular moment in the practice of improvisation when the individual is still attending to unique or specific needs. In time, it comes before preparations that involve others, or the doing of something that is organised into an ‘exercise’. A practice rarely begins at zero moment with a group of improvisers arriving together with everyone ready to start. An allowance is made for a transition, and what the improviser chooses to do during this time is left up to them. This is the moment I am calling–‘warming up’ or ‘to warm up’. Taken literally the expression ‘to warm up’ indicates actions a dance improviser can do to prepare their body to improvise; a body-based preparation to attend to particular bodily needs in order to be physically ready to do dance improvisation.

Mapping the experiential in contemporary dance

This research questions how a ‘lived experience’ of contemporary dance could be deepened for the audience. It presents a series of choreographic ‘tools’ to create alternative frameworks for presentation that challenge the dominant modes of creation, presentation and meaning making in contemporary dance. The five tools established and applied in this research are: variations of site, liminality, audience agency, audience-performer proximity and performer qualities. These tools are framed as a series of calibrated scales that allow choreographers to map decisions made in the studio in relation to potential audience engagement. The research houses multiple presentation formats from the traditional to the avant-garde and opens up possibilities for analysis of a wide range of artistic dance works. This research presents options for choreographers to map how audiences experience their work and offers opportunities to engage audiences in new and exciting ways.

Linking the tradition to modernity

Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring has inspired a plethora of artists in its hundred years of history. As it transcends geographic barriers, it has also been choreographed by many great dance masters such as Maurice Béjart and Pina Bausch from the West, and Hwai-Min Lin and Helen Lai from the East. In this paper, Ting-Ting Chang focuses on the choreographic aesthetics of versions of The Rite of Spring by choreographers Zhang Xiaoxiong and Shen Wei. Zhang’s version depicts images with references both to the original work of Vaslav Nijinsky, and to aspects of Asian culture in a way that is sensitive to the original music and to his memories as a child living in Cambodia. Shen has been known for his organic movement vocabulary and unique way of using Chinese cultural elements. By tracing their separate creative processes, she discuss how choreographers negotiate tradition and innovation through their different choreographic methods and aesthetic visions through contemporary dance.

Emerging choreographies: developing new pedagogies in dance

New dance forums in India have evolved recently, allowing performers to identify conflict areas in performative practice. This development has arisen as a consequence of questioning techniques as exercised in classical dance pedagogy. Aastha Gandhi's research looks into different tools of performance provided by Gati Dance Forum in New Delhi to engage with these techniques through different pedagogical approaches. The learning and unlearning of performance skills constantly challenges the dancer’s perception of audience-performer, body-dance and dance-space relations, vis-à-vis the individual choreography-creating process. The need to challenge the body to go beyond the taught and practised language has consequently developed a distinct performative text, which is visual, verbal and embodied. Deriving from a theoretical idea of Paul Ricoeur’s, the performance text is examined at levels of structural explanation and interpretation, where the different components act as ‘discrete units’ to form an arranged whole and the constituent units acquire a signifying function.

Interject: a choreographer’s struggles in one specific site

Interject (a site-specific dance work) was performed on a ledge inside the Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts at the University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand in November 2012. This paper reframes a complex picture of web-like connections and challenges around the relocation and re-envisioning of several site-specific choreographies into one specific site. How do you re-negotiate the dance content in a different site? What are the ramifications of an additional dancer? How do you interact/negotiate with the everyday use of the site? Is it a new work or not? These questions are discussed along with the unpacking and interrogation of my journey and a review of the end product as the choreographer in this process. This reframing will make reference to the past and how it has enriched and informed the expanding field of international site-specific dance (Brown 2010, Kloetzel & Pavlik 2009, Hunter 2005) and this particular project.

The documentation of Anna Teresa de Keersmaeker’s choreography in A Choreographer’s Score

Anna Teresa de Keersmaeker has published three different volumes of A Choreographer’s Score in which she explains her choreographic processes. Each of the volumes contains interviews and parts of the choreography which are recorded on DVDs and published in writing together with the scores. The need for those publications might have been triggered by Beyonce’s use of de Keersmaeker’s choreography in her video Countdown and by a general need to create a legacy for her work. The question that such a publication poses is: what is documented here? Is it based on an idea of the work or a choreographic process or is it an instruction manual for performance? How does de Keersmaeker’s attempt relate to the archive as a place of reinforcing patriarchal law as stated by Jacques Derrida or is it rather an open approach to dance and performance as an art form, able to escape that law as Rebecca Schneider has discussed?

Mindful motion: engagement with the messy vitality of research

The arguments presented in this paper, offer a reminder of ways we might practice research as a mindful endeavor and in the process, seek new comprehension of our world. Sparked by my annual reconsideration of what is important to share as a teacher, I visit ideas that we might underpin nimble thinking and so hone significant change. In this way, the paper offers, a gentle disturbance to the streamlining and consolidation of practice-as-research in the academy. The discussion champions practice that reveals ideas, without rushing to answers. To recognise the opportunities afforded by this place of not knowing, there is need to recognise that our search is to provisionally affirm, rather than finally confirm, order. In grappling with ways to guide researchers, I argue that understanding the consequences of ‘how’ you engage with the potential of knowledge is the significant aspect of practice-as-research that we must protect.

Every World Dance Alliance conference is an eye-opener for my choreographic practice

WDA is free to us at Ausdance, yet so few artists know about this amazing opportunity each year in different locations around the world. Each conference has been an eye-opener for my choreographic practice—understanding the links between it and academic research, studio practice, dance in the rest of the world and most significantly for me, intercultural dance. Every topic is covered: from dancer-choreographer relationships to education to the role of women in dance and politics. Many people have become good friends, and we have formed a strong bond. I love it.

Lina Limosani awarded 2015 Dame Peggy van Praagh Choreographic Fellowship

An original member of Garry Stewart's Australian Dance Theatre (ADT), Lina as been a choreographer since 2000. Her recent work, A Delicate Situation, was shortlisted for the 2015 Australian Dance Award for Outstanding Contribution to Independent Dance. Lina will use her Peggy van Praagh Choreographic Fellowship honing her theatrical devising practices including her approach to constructing narrative and characters and working with the voice, particularly techniques for warm-up, projection, endurance and dynamic range.

Extending Underscore Alchemy

Vahri MacKenzie takes the framework of Nancy Stark Smith’s Underscore—a contact improvisation program developed in the US to promote a “deepening/releasing and sensitising to gravity and support” in bodies that pass and meet each other—to a multi-disciplinary gathering of artists.

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