Maggi Phillips

Associate Professor Maggi Phillips PhD (1944–2015) was coordinator of Research and Creative Practice at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts, a position in which she enabled daily access to the integration of artistic innovation and research. Her life path crossed many disciplines and worldviews, from dancer to a world literature doctorate, from circus ring to university boardroom. She led an Australian Learning and Teaching Council grant, Dancing between Diversity and Consistency: Refining Assessment in Post Graduate Degrees in Dance and has been published in a number of international journals advocating the validity of artistic knowledge.



Brolga 39

In this issue of Brolga, the writers outlay the reaches of what education in various dance contexts may mean. In its formal sense, education spans the time of learning which takes place in institutions such as schools, colleges and universities, whether public or private, or in classrooms and studios. While learning to learn still resonates through the actualities of such institutions, in today’s culture, the pervading principle is centred on vocational ends, on equipping the individual to take a place in employment statistics and the much vaunted economic progress.

Brolga 38

Australians and those who connect with Australian dance experiences in one way or another need to know that their ideas, memories and research are valued as the vibrant electricity to keep the dancing-talking duo spinning on through time. This issue of Brolga, edited by Associate Professor Maggi Phillips gives a sense of the multiple voices and approaches that weave into the repertoire of Australian dance, its history, present and future.


Playing past and future: knowledge as revealed by artist and scholar

History is not often regarded as a location to search for practice-based artistic researchers, since its relatively recent academic acceptance designates this activity as ‘new’ or of a pioneering nature leaping forward from the confines of history. However, the space devoted to Picasso’s 1957 ruminations upon or fierce dialogues with Diego Velasquez’s Las Meninas (1656) at the Museu Picasso, Barcelona, presented evidence of an artist probing into thinking-in-practice. These paintings demonstrate how an artist pursues knowledge about representation that immediately interconnected with memories of Foucault’s (1970) play, in the introduction to Les mots et des choses, of the very same Velasquez art work. In using a classical art work as the touchstone for investigation, both researchers trusted in painterly vision as a viable mode of knowledge. This interrelationship between excavating what came before (Foucault) with what the future may hold (Picasso) is reflected in dance scholarship and its processes and choreographies.

Dancing doctorates down-under?

Assessment frames the focus of this paper, which emerges from our collaborative research, Dancing Between Diversity and Consistency: Refining Assessment in Postgraduate Degrees in Dance, funded by the Australian Learning and Teaching Council (ALTC). We examine the attributes of danced ‘doctorateness’, giving special attention to those factors in the Australian environment, which may endow resilience to concepts of excellence, independent thinking and originality when kinaesthetic knowledge becomes pivotal to research. Have the small pool of examiners and relationships between academia and the professional artistic environment shaped these doctorates in a particular way? Can these perspectives illuminate and forge parameters by which to legitimate danced insight? These and related issues are interrogated giving voice to supervisors, research deans, candidates and industry professionals across Australia who participated in this research project.

‘Crazy link-ups all over the place’

Dance scholar Maggi Phillips has chosen a particular intersection of destinies to illustrate the unpredictable and complex lineages of dance. Her focus here is on three major and influential Perth artists: Boris Kniaseff, Lucette Aldous and Barry Moreland.