Contemporary dance happens here: deploying dance in regional settings

In This Article

Contemporary dance happens here: deploying dance in regional settings is the name of a panel discussion at the 2015 National Dance Forum. The panel features dynamic and diverse representation from some of Australia’s leading voices within the regional arts sector. They will engage you in a debate on notions of excellence, community engagement and being objectified as ‘regional'.

  • Date: 20 March 2015
  • Chair: Annette Carmichael
  • Speakers: Jacob Boehme, Lesley Graham, Britt Guy, Julian Louis


Chair Annette Carmichael briefed panel members prior to the Forum. They were asked to consider the following provocations and encouraged to be provocative in their responses.

  • Why isn't excellence being used in the discussions about regional practice? What does excellence look like?
  • Community engagement is rising in prevalence as a way to grow more exciting work. It allows the audience to interact with contemporary work and have meaningful experiences with the work. But what are the challenges for regional artists?
  • The 'regional' label—its usefulness and its impact in creating a sense of 'other'.


Movement response

Responding to the issues and ideas arising from this discussion, speakers and delegates attending this session created a movement response which they presented at the Open Space session led by Andrew Morrish. Karen Veldhuizen describes the response in the following passage.

Jacob stood at the edge of the space, facing out to the audience. He introduced himself and told the story of his indigenous ancestry. He then stood silently. One by one, we stepped out slowly from the audience. As we moved, we imagined our deceased grandparents or ancestors walking behind us, in solidarity, reminding us who we are. As we approached the dance space, we took off our shoes and found a place to stand behind Jacob. The shape we formed as a group fanned out behind him like the V of flying geese. Silently we broke out and re-formed into a large circle, facing inwards. We all removed our forum name tags, placing them face down. This gesture removed our names and labels and served to unite us and connect us as one. I am as you are.

Open Space session movement response by participants of the session 'Contemporary dance happens here: dance in regional settings’. Images: Will Taylor, Australia Council 2015


Regional Arts Australia Summit: On the Edge of Something Big featuring Federal Arts minister Senator George Brandis, Opera Queensland’s Lindy Hume, MONA FOMA curator Brian Ritchie and Genevieve Grieves, lecturer in the Australian Indigenous Studies Program at the University of Melbourne.

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