For the past 25 years, Olivia has worked as a performer, maker and lecturer of dance. After graduating from the Victorian College of the Arts in 1992, Olivia performed with companies and independent choreographers/directors in Australia and overseas including Rosalind Crisp, Sue Peacock, and Peter Sellars (Salzburg Festival). Olivia has created over 20 dance works, both funded and commissioned, including for the Asian Young Choreographers Project in Kaohsuing, Taiwan, and was the recipient of a Creative Development Fellowship from Arts WA in 2003. Recent performance work includes dance generated in and for particular sites with About Now (Peter Fraser and Shaun McLeod). Olivia taught at WAAPA, Perth from 1999-2006 and has taught at Deakin University since 2007. Olivia’s PhD, from Deakin University, was conferred in April 2013.
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.
Articles in this issue explore ideas that relate to improvisation as it has been experienced in a practical, bodily way.
Marchant’s article Dance Improvisation: Why warm up at all? considers what takes place before improvising begins, while warming up. In Improcinemaniac, Reid describes her simultaneous practice of screendance and improvisation. Reid uses language that is deliberately poetic, and deconstructs and reassembles words in order to question or reconfigure meanings, particularly those of conventional dance language. Using improvisational play with light and lens is also described by Wilson who applies a deeply embodied approach, developed over years working as a dancer, to her visual art practice in experimental photography. Millard’s What’s the score? explores the use of scores or verbal propositions as supports for dance improvisation. In Gaps in the Body, Fraser writes of having arrived at an understanding of improvisation that, rather than being about moving, is about ‘attention’. McLeod’s article, The Ethos of the Mover/Witness Dyad, describes the response of an invited public to a performative Authentic Movement event over three evenings.
This article discusses participation in a group dance improvisation practice over time. Described, is a regular dance practice and how it is the dancing over time itself that is the situation in which something is ‘going on’. Participating or acting in this practice allows ways of thinking, understanding, experiencing, knowing that exist only while or at least because of the participation in this dancing. The term ‘action’ as suggested by Hannah Arendt in her book The Human Condition, is used as a concept with which to think through the dancers’ experience in a shared practice. Other ideas including Claire Bishop’s participatory art and Tim Ingold’s discussion of ‘drawing together’ are explored to define participating in dancing in a studio practice, and to articulate what is happening and how that participation can be observed.
Olivia Millard explores the use of scores or verbal propositions in improvising dance. Examining the use of scores in her improvisation practice, she discusses what scores might be and might do and how they relate to the real time composition of dance in the present of its making. To help explore these ideas I refer to the theory of Nelson Goodman and discuss the use of scores by other dance practitioners including Steve Paxton, Yvonne Meier and Anna Halprin.
Olivia Millard discusses a practice-based research project whereby six individual dancers came to ‘belong’, stylistically, to a group in a project that did not aim explicitly to create or bring about that sense of belonging.