Community dance

Evoking poetics of memory through performing site

Memory, time and metaphor are central triggers for artists in exploring and shaping their creative work. This paper examines the place of artists as ‘memory-keepers’, and ‘memory-makers’, in particular through engagement with the time-based art of site-specific performance. Naik Naik (Ascent) was a multi-site performance project in the historic setting of Melaka, Malaysia, and is partially recaptured through the presence and voices of its collaborating artists. Distilled from moments recalled, this paper seeks to uncover the poetics of memory to emerge from the project; one steeped in metaphor rather than narrative. It elicits some of the complex and interdependent layers of experience revealed by the artists in Naik Naik; cultural, ancestral, historical, personal, instinctual and embodied memories connected to sound, smell, touch, sensation and light, in a spatiotemporal context for which site is the catalyst. The liminal nature of memory at the heart of Naik Naik, provides a shared experience of past and present and future, performatively interwoven.

Reclaiming the community of Cabelo Seco through dance

Paulo Freire and John Dewey are helping the youth of Cabelo Seco in the southern reaches of the Amazon to reclaim their violated community. Freire (1921–1997) and Dewey (1859–1952) remain alive in Cabelo Seco, identified as one of Brazil’s most dangerous communities. After describing the context of Cabelo Seco, the local community arts projects and the philosophies driving this work, I examine meanings of community dance in Cabelo Seco. Utilising a constructivist methodology that values dialogic interaction to build shared understandings, interviews and observations provide insights into diverse ways that people experience, value and make meaning from dance in community contexts. Dewey, Freire, Eisner, Boal, Zequinha and other arts educators are ever present in Cabelo Seco; understanding a lineage of influence helps to examine current practices and envision future projects. This paper explores the shifting and emerging role of dance in this community, focusing on how dance is helping to reclaim it.

Dance for Parkinson’s in Australia

For people with Parkinson's disease, high quality dance classes led by trained professional teaching artists are becoming internationally acknowledged and valued as both a creative activity and an evidence-based therapeutic intervention. From my own dancer’s perspective, these classes are a beautiful and satisfying way to authentically share my own experience and passion for the art form in way that also connects to community.

Creating health, wellbeing and social change—see how Australian dance companies are doing it!

In 2014, our Australian dance companies have been working on some brave and surprising collaborations that foster health, wellbeing and social change. In 2014 KAGE will premiereTeam of Life at the Melbourne Festival, Bangarra collaborated with beyondblue to create the short film Stories for Keeping Strong—Bangarra Rekindling, Shaun Parker collaborated with multicultural urban youth to create The Yard, which tackles loneliness, competition, survival and bullying, Australian Dance Theatre's work Proximity inspired a new approach to stroke rehabilitation, and BalletLab created a work about AIDS with community participants and the Victorian AIDs Council.

Meet me at Kissing Point

Cheryl Stock, Artistic Director of Dancenorth (1984–1995) talks about a large-scale site-specific community dance project specially devised for the Townsville community in 1994. Originally published in Dancers and communities: a collection of writings about dance as a community art

Dancers and Communities book launch speech

This book tells us about some of the ways community dance evolves. I couldn't put it down. Like a good novel, its characters are fascinating, the stories captivating, and the twists and turns keep one interested, for it's as Shirley McKechnie says in the preface, 'a many faceted story of places, people and artists working together in partnerships concerned with discovery and celebration' (p.vii).

And yet there is no formula for being a successful community artist; every project requires a different approach. Flexibility, sensitivity, spontaneity, enthusiasm, honour, commitment, patience, exhaustion, resilience and pride permeate these pages, as do stories of ordinary people creating magic moments for themselves and others, through the facilitation of this person called a community dancer.

News from Dance Integrated Australia

Creative Director of Dance Integrated Australia talks about Corner Dance Lab and New Works Forum in Hong Kong, which will explore ways of producing inclusive performances for artists with diverse backgrounds and physical abilities.

Dancers and communities: the power of dance to enter individual lives in significant ways

Shirely McKechnie tells us why this collection of writing about community dance is so valuable: 'They speak of the human need to give expression to deeply felt connections and unique situations; but they also ask questions. Whose dances? What is their purpose? Can everyone participate? They convey the diversity of the dance experience and a reassurance of its power to enter individual lives in significant ways.'

Slow touring: longer, slower, deeper

Slow touring expresses a desire (from artists, communities, tour presenters and funding bodies) for audiences to experience a deeper engagement with a touring performance, often through activities such as skill sharing (e.g., workshops, residencies, exchanges and collaborations) and collaboration on creative projects (e.g., recreating the work for/with local audiences). We highlight Shiver by Danielle Micich, a 2012 West Australian dance tour that successfully managed and delivered community engagement activities.

Medico manoeuvres

Skye Murtagh, of SDM Communications describes how movement and music prove a potent therapy for patients in Flinders Medical Centre, Adelaide

Tracks dance company

Co-artistic directors, David McMicken and Tim Newth give us an insight into the rich cultural context and its impact on Tracks Dance Company in Australia’s Northern Territory

Big sticks—masters and apprentices

Dr Katrina Rank, Manager of Education and Training for Ausdance Victoria, outlines the guidelines developed in Australia to support effective and safe dance practice in schools and communities

The rise and rise of community dance

Michelle Silby, independent arts consultant based in Sydney and working in the UK and Australia, sets out some of the current developments in community dance in Australia

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