Shaun McLeod is a dancer, choreographer and academic who lectures at Deakin University, Melbourne. He is interested in the affective situation of dance improvisation and performance, as well as exploring alternative audience/performer relationships. As a dancer he danced with Australian Dance Theatre, Danceworks and One Extra Co. His work The weight of the thing left its mark was presented as part of Dance Massive 2011 (Melbourne). He recently completed a practice-led PhD on the engagement of Authentic Movement for performance. The performance component of this PhD, entitled Witness, will be presented by Dancehouse (Melbourne) in August 2016.
This article reflects on a dance improvisation project in which the foundational relationship of the Mover Witness Dyad (MWD), the private exchange between mover and witness (and more commonly known as Authentic Movement) became an ethical and physical paradigm for an improvised performance. The untitled performance (danced by Olivia Millard, Peter Fraser, Jason Marchant, Sophia Cowen and myself) took place over three nights in Melbourne in November 2014. It was specifically informed by the experiences, observations and questions drawn from an extensive studio practice of the MWD by myself and the other dancers. The practice of the MWD is a therapeutic relationship between contemplative mover and attentive witness. Falling within the wider field of Dance Movement Therapy (DMT), the MWD has uses as a therapeutic aid, in personal development and also as a context for exploring dance improvisation.
Shaun McLeod (Deakin University Melbourne) pays tribute to some of the people who have been vital to establishing and sustaining regular meetings for dance artists to practice improvisation as performance. He talks about the groups' activities and some of the values and artistic concerns that meld the disparate individuals and practices into a flexible but functioning community.