Clare Dyson, PhD

Clare Dyson is a choreographer, researcher and choreoturg. She creates collaborative dance, theatre and site-specific performance and has toured her works throughout Australia and internationally. Clare has been artist-in-residence with several institutions in Australia and received fellowships and residencies internationally including Cité des Arts in Paris, Tanzfabrik in Berlin and Djerassi in the US. In 2006 she won an Australian Dance Award for Outstanding Achievement in Independent Dance for Churchill’s Black Dog and her work The Voyeur was nominated for best Independent Dance at the 2010 Australian Dance Awards, touring throughout the US. Clare is currently a lecturer at the Queensland University of Technology and researches audience engagement and reflective practice in the creative industries.



Mapping the experiential in contemporary dance

This research questions how a ‘lived experience’ of contemporary dance could be deepened for the audience. It presents a series of choreographic ‘tools’ to create alternative frameworks for presentation that challenge the dominant modes of creation, presentation and meaning making in contemporary dance. The five tools established and applied in this research are: variations of site, liminality, audience agency, audience-performer proximity and performer qualities. These tools are framed as a series of calibrated scales that allow choreographers to map decisions made in the studio in relation to potential audience engagement. The research houses multiple presentation formats from the traditional to the avant-garde and opens up possibilities for analysis of a wide range of artistic dance works. This research presents options for choreographers to map how audiences experience their work and offers opportunities to engage audiences in new and exciting ways.

The ‘authentic dancer’ as a tool for audience engagement

An engagement with performance is an experiential event. To have a lived experience within a performance construct infers that the experience is somehow ‘more live’. This paper situates the body of the audience member as a site of understanding and meaning making, and challenges the role of the traditional ‘passive’ presentation format and ensuing ethical considerations within that assertion. It looks at the relationships between audience experience and a series of creative tools that facilitate subtle shifts in this traditional dance paradigm. Along with the tools of audience agency, liminality, variations of site and proximity – tools that create engagement via physical interactions with the audience – can ‘performer authenticity’ also become a tool of connection with the audience? This paper looks at the overarching field of contemporary dance, with a primary focus on Western contemporary dance and the traditional dance paradigms prevalent in the construction and presentation of that form. It outlines the role of the experiential within this form and highlights established research and creation tools that encourage audience connection via audience interaction. It also looks at the role of the dancer within this construct, citing both current qualitative research into audience responses, as well as current theory and creative practice from an international field of artists creating work with the ‘authentic dancer’.

Variations in proximity as a tool for audience engagement

Clare Dyson illustrates her account of proximity in the relationship of audience and performer with examples from her own intriguing choreographies. How close is close? What does being a member of an audience, as opposed to being an ordinary person in an ordinary place mean?