World Dance Alliance Asia–Pacific Dance Bridge 2015 My Singapore date with WDA

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The World Dance Alliance Asia–Pacific Dance Bridge created a dynamic and collegial space for dance makers, thinkers, writers and teachers to come together in Singapore. The Dance Bridge consisted of a symposium, choreolab, workshops, performances, and cultural tours of surrounding areas. It was a packed program which, unfortunately, meant that I often had to make difficult choices about which session I would attend! Here, I have attempted to provide a little taste of my Dance Bridge itinerary.

The symposium addressed many topics, including performative works, policy, community, technology, education, choreography, Asian dance, women in dance, and contemporaneity. The presentations offered many interesting perspectives and approaches, which prompted numerous questions and discussion points. I walked away inspired by the work happening in our field. For ‘newbies’ like me, the emerging researcher sessions (pecha kucha style presentations, and an informal networking session) were valuable elements to the symposium.

I see WDA conferences as being crucial for networking and increasing my awareness of the field. However, the prospect of rubbing shoulders with established scholars can be daunting (I literally shook with fear the first time I presented an academic paper). The emerging researcher sessions helped us ‘newbies’ to find and support each other and to take on roles as contributors in the symposium.

Emerging academics (L–R) Min Zhu, Anja Ali-Haapala, Christos Linou, Naree Vachananda and Lucinda Coleman at 'Asia-Pacific Dance Bridge 2015: Connectivity through Dance' in Singapore'.

The choreolab showing was a delightful insight to the experiences of seven artists who had worked together over 10 days. They created a relaxed atmosphere where their audience (the rest of the conference delegates) were invited to watch, listen, draw, dance, and smell (yes, smell) their practice. Similar to the symposium, many questions followed the showing. The choreolab artists were eager to share their experiences and were articulate with their responses. It was a pleasure to be part of this showing.

Choreolab showing, where audience members were invited to watch, listen, draw, dance, and smell their practice. Choreolab artists: Chiu Yi Chiang, Fauzi Amirudin, Jonny Almario, Eng Kai Er, Meghna Bhardwaj, Sabri Gusmail, Sonoko Prow and Wiing Liu. Photo: Julie Dyson.

The performance program was big: it spanned community, tertiary, independent, and small company dance contexts. The performances were often a mixed bill of performers from different countries, highlighting (on stage) the international exchange that is the Dance Bridge. I enjoyed watching the tertiary dance showcase; a wonderful insight to some of our region’s up and coming artists. On top of that, the Da:ns Festival was running concurrently, presenting further opportunities to watch and participate in dance.

The Dance Bridge was my second WDA conference. By returning, I have been able to reconnect with people that I met at the 2014 WDA Global Summit in Angers, France, as well as form new connections with scholars and practitioners that are closer to home. While we all swap cards, send the odd email, and perhaps even ‘follow’ each other on social media, there isn’t anything quite the same as having a face-to-face encounter. This is the great value of the Dance Bridge, and other WDA conferences, and exactly why you will see me there, in Korea, next year!