Community dance

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    Dancing into belonging: towards co-presence in place

    The paper advocates for the possibilities of dance in community development and place-making contexts through its proposition of a ‘phenomenology of belonging’. From her vantage as facilitator/director of video series Dancing Place, the author observes sensory interactions between participants’ bodies and the sites in which they performed, as enhancing relationality between participants and place.

    Conceived as part of an ARC Discovery Project exploring potentials of artistic methods to challenge neighbourhood-based stigma, led by sociologist Deborah Warr, and employing the expertise of screendance artist Dianne Reid to create the video works, Dancing Place invited diverse residents of Wyndham, Victoria, to dance to their favourite music in their favourite local sites. Through reflection upon the project, the author teases out issues of visibility, embodiment, identity, marginalisation and changing relationships to place.

    The participants of varied cultural and social backgrounds, age, gender and levels of dance training, inevitably chose to dance in very different styles and places. The paper explores some political and social ramifications of (being represented via video) dancing in relation to place for particular groups and individuals, and outlines the facilitating artist’s motivations for the project’s structural framework. Rather than presuming or contriving a unified ‘community’, the nine distinctively discrete videos were presented side by side, which collectively evoked a sense of co-presence, or parallel belonging.   

    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.

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    Australian Dance Week

    The Ausdance network celebrates and promotes dance in all its forms every year during Australian Dance Week which aims to raise awareness of professional dance and dance in the community, and to celebrate its diversity.

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    Brolga 41

    In Australia, the social and aesthetic contexts of ‘live’ contemporary dance (practice and performance), and the networks these contexts facilitate, remain diverse even if they are sometimes fragile or unexpected. This issue of Brolga—an Australian journal about dance aims to give some visibility or clarity to a select few of these diverse practices, primarily as they have been understood by the dance practitioners themselves. Networks create links between things. The variable ways such connections are created, valued and understood are outlined in this issue in a series of physical engagements which articulate acts of opening or becoming, acts of social activation, acts engendering community identity, or acts of private interpersonal collaboration.

    Dancers and communities: a collection of writings about dance as a community art

    The stories in this book illustrate the rich exchange that takes place between dancers and communities. Dance can be an accessible and empowering creative tool for individuals and groups to express their identity, feelings, histories and aspirations. People of all ages and from all walks of life are represented in this book, participating in ongoing dance projects, celebratory events, and performances. Locations range from work places to detention centres to natural environments. The artists represented in this collection are committed and experienced, sharing a common enthusiasm to practise their art with communities. Their words and those of the participants are inspiring, challenging and thought provoking, making this book a unique contribution to the practice of dance in Australian communities.

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    News / Blog / Press Releases / Events View all

    Big Dance 2018

    Date: 29 April 2018

    2018 sees Australia take the leading role for this global event, with Ausdance NSW and Victoria presenting the 2018 Big Dance.

    You will have the opportunity to learn the Big Dance—choreographed by Frances Rings and Craig Bary—and perform it at one of many Big Dance events in Australia.

    Ausdance Victoria and NSW will host events in Sydney, Melbourne, regional Victoria and New South Wales. They will support events in every state and territory. 

    Visit the Big Dance website for information about the workshops and event.

    Watch National Dance Forum 2015 panel discussions

    National Dance Forum 2015 (19–21 March) addressed the inherent concerns and realities affecting current professional practice in Australia. It was framed by three specific lines of focus:

    • Transforming the form: changing structures and their effects
    • The subtleties and nuances of innovation.
    • Discourse: How is dance written about, spoken about and communicated?

    A partnership between the Australia Council for the Arts and Ausdance National, the NDF is a biennial gathering for the Australian professional contemporary dance sector. It fosters the artistic development of dance in Australia by providing a platform for discussion between Australian choreographers, dancers, independent artists, artistic directors, educators, researchers and dance producers.

    Communities making dance in Tasmania

    Tasmanian Regional Arts (TRA) is leading The Dance Project in partnership with Mature Artists Dance Experience (MADE), Bust a Move and Tasdance.

    This community dance project is happening in three Tasmanian regions—the North East, North West and the South—to develop and present three new contemporary dance works with, by and about communities. Evolving from the heart of each community, these works explore place, kinship and identity as experienced by the residents of these regions.

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