Dance rebooted: initializing the grid

Dance Rebooted: Initializing the Grid brought together five international keynote speakers and 75 delegates from Australia, New Zealand and around the world to focus on the sustainability of dance practice and research.

The conference proceedings include keynote papers by Shirley McKechnie and Sarah Rubidge, with papers by Ann Daly, Janet Lansdale and Susan Kozel. The 27 conference papers covered a range of research issues that address, in different and eclectic ways, the sustainability of dance practice and research. The content represents a broad diversity of methodology and thought about how one might begin to wrestle with the critical issue of sustainability of dance practice and research. The conference elicited a range of responses that, taken together, present a broad range of strategies and approaches for addressing this issue.

Janet Lansdale’s keynote paper addresses sustainability in relation to the organising structures of academia and research. Sarah Rubidge looks at the role of practice–led research in the artist/academy relationship. Ann Daly examines the structures of dance organizations and the attitudes that underlie approaches to commercialisation and marketing. Susan Kozel discusses the impact of technology on practice. Shirley McKechnie reports on the nature of ‘choreographic cognition’ and its relationship to the development of dance in Australia.

The conference papers also address sustainability from a range of viewpoints, examining different kinds of social and economic ‘ecologies’ of dance, educational research, historical perspectives and examinations of specific artists’ practices. The conference also called for papers on any area of research, and encouraged submissions from postgraduate students that described their current research. This collection of papers therefore also includes papers on a range of general dance research topics, and provides something of a ‘mapping’ of current dance research in Australia and New Zealand dance research.

All conference papers have been peer reviewed, and I would like to express my particular thanks to Maggi Phillips and Elizabeth Dempster for their invaluable assistance in the refereeing and editorial processes.

(Dr Kim Vincs, Editor, Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia)

Articles

Booting the tutu: teachers and dance in the classroom

Ralph Buck (National Institute for Creative Arts and Industries, University of Auckland) focuses on how we might develop sustainable dance education practice in the primary school classroom. He emphasises the importance of changing perceptions about dance in terms of the associations with femininity, ability, performance, mastery of skill and elitism.

Visual perception, spatiality, and imagery

Neil Adams (PhD Candidate Victorian College of the Arts Melbourne) talks about his findings regarding human visual perception of space and the possible relevance to choreographic realisation and perception. He then examines the imagistic aspects of the choreographic process and the defining spatial characteristics of movement materials and overarching spatial form in terms of the Incarna project.

Turning inside out

Christine Babinskas (PhD Candidate Victoria University) has been developing a movement practice that draws on various dance techniques, movement work within a drama context, improvisation, and often involving artists from other disciplines. Her movement has shifted from the strictly codified aesthetic of classical ballet, to something more indeterminate, open and unique.

Gendering discourses in modern dance research

Dr Sally Gardner (Deakin University Melbourne) considers some problems of conceptualisation in modern dance studies. She questions the assumptions made about the terms 'dancer' and 'choreographer' and the relationships between them, and wonders how this pair of terms work to structure what gets written or said in contemporary modem dance scholarship.

The risks we take—a model for risk stratification and recognition of competency in dance

Lesley Graham (Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane) seeks to apply the findings of the Sport and Recreation Training Australia Draft Position Paper for the Australian Fitness Industry and the National Fitness Professional/Trainer Registration model, to the dance industry. The implications and appropriateness of these models are discussed with reference to a process of risk stratification in dance teaching.

Success in salsa: students’ evaluation of the use of self-reflection when learning to dance

Both Stephanie J. Hanrahan (Schools of Human Movement Studies and Psychology, University of Queensland) and Rachel A. Mathews (Creative Industries Faculty—Dance, Queensland University of Technology) have seen that both teachers and students can become frustrated when the rate of skills improvement is not satisfying. They had a group of salsa students engage in structured self-reflection and then evaluated the process and outcomes.

Sustaining the dance artist: barriers to communication between educators, artists and researchers

Donna H. Krasnow, M.S.(York University Toronto, Canada) addresses a variety of issues that might currently be preventing a link between dance science research and dance practice. She hopes to create a language of communication between these two worlds, to enhance the viability of the research, and the sustainability of the practitioner.

From grandes changements to grand narratives

Professor Shirley McKechnie (Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne) talks about the disparities that divide and exclude relationships between artists and communities in daily dance experience in her keynote address. What connects the disciplines?; how do we articulate the relationships between dance practices, the audiences we hope to engage, and the supporters that we hope to influence?

Cecil street studio: improvised community and sustainable practices

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.

Choreographing newmedia dance through the creation of the Newmedia Dance Project ‘Ada’

Sarah Neville, (Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane) talks about her choreographic project which was motivated by an attempt to understand some of her creative peers who were computer programmers. Her dance and technology research made her confront the fact that she is a choreographer whose work is deeply connected with, and influenced by, the digital age.

Sustainability in dance practice—the case of the ‘mature artist’

Liz Schwaiger (PhD Candidate, Victoria University of Technology, Melbourne) looks at an underfunded and underresourced Australian dance industry. She talks to dancers about how they perceive the term 'mature dancer' and about how we might creatively develop hybrid microcosms of opportunity in a culture which does not highly value dance.

Choreographic cognition: investigating the psychological processes involved in creating and respondi

Catherine Stevens and Renee Glass (MARCS Auditory Laboratories, University of Western Sydney) describe their different methods and tools of analysis to investigate how the mind works when creating and/or watching dance or movement. Methods include a case study of choreographic cognition and development and application of a psychometric instrument called the Audience Response Tool.

Undisciplined subjects, unregulated practices: dancing in the academy

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.

Connective tissue: the flesh of the network

This is a transcript of the keynote address given by Dr Susan Kozel (Associate Professor, Interactive Arts and Technology, Simon Fraser University, Canada). She talks about connective tissue—in both the concrete and the metaphoric sense—as a way of understanding human networks, technological networks and social networks. She supports the expansion of dance research into other fields of knowledge to include design, new technologies, new philosophies and more.

Redefining the field—expanding the field

Dancer, dance educator, dance maker, dance critic, Hilary Crampton (University of Melbourne) presents her views about the current state of play within the Australian dance sector. She highlights three aspects of the sector: the education and training system; the structure of what the politicians like to refer to as ‘the arts industry' and the policy system that regulates art form practice through artists' reliance on its beneficence.

Scenes from another life

Dianne Reid (Dancehouse, Melbourne) writes poetically and fluently about her working processes and what dance means for her. As a dancer she reflects on the world through the instrument of her body. Her choreography is a montage of her other lives "public and private, past & present, actual & virtual, real & imagined, stage & screen, as live body and televisual body."