Dance in Proximity: World Dance Alliance Asia Pacific Conference & AGM

Taipei National University of the Arts, 10–11 November 2017

There were some special moments at the Dance in Proximity conference, hosted in Taiwan by the Taipei National University of the Arts in November, and organised by a wonderful team of artists, choreographers and teachers, led by Yunyu Wang.

dancer spinningMunguntsetseg Munkhbadrakh demonstrating traditional Mongolian dance movements during the Cross-cultural Dance Education session. Photo Julie Dyson

It wasn’t possible to attend all sessions at the conference, but the keynote speech by Argentinian political theorist and anthropologist Marta Savigliano took a complex look at ‘Dancerly Divides: Culture Translation and Proximity from a World Dance perspective’. Marta explored many questions raised by opening the old world of dance to revitalisation in a world previously bounded by a dance world ruled by ‘the’ dance: ballet, modern, postmodern and ‘above all, by choreography’.

Urmimala Sarkar Munsi spoke about ‘Dance and Dispossession: Market led bodies of Bollywood’ in a confronting speech that exposed the world of global Bollywood that

‘relentelessly uses mediated images of hyper-gendered female dancing bodies …’. ‘Female bodies come as price-labelled commodities and for buyers (producers/directors) beauty and dance come as a package where buying beauty means automatically expecting to get the skills of dance for free …’.

Conference speakers seated onstage, in front of a projector screen showing speaker's job titlesCross-cultural Dance Education panel (from left): Moderator Ya-Ping Chen, Xiao-Xiong Zhang, Munguntsetseg Munkhbadrakh, translator, Leigh Warren, translator, Maria Savigliano. Photo Julie Dyson

In the Cross-cultural Dance Education session we heard visiting professor Leigh Warren and choreographer Xiao-Xiong Zhang—both well known in Australia—on a fascinating panel with Marta Savigliano and Mongolian performer Munguntsetseg Munkhbadrakh. Leigh’s entertaining and insightful speech demonstrated the vast cultural and language differences encountered by Western teachers working in Asian cultures; Xiao-Xiong Zhang was equally eloquent about working with Western techniques in a multicultural context. We also saw some beautiful movement demonstration of ‘lost gestures’ in performance by Munguntsetseg Munkhbadrakh.

The showcase program was well produced and beautifully danced by a range of performers from countries in the region, and especially from Taiwan.

The Annual General Meeting of the WDAAP was held on 11 November. With terms expiring for the President, Yunyu Wang, nominations were called for this and all other Executive Board positions (except those of Secretary and Treasurer, appointed by the Board).

meeting at a boardroom tableWorld Dance Alliance Asia Pacific meeting, Taipei (from left): Sal Murgiyanto (Indonesia), Urmimala Sarkar (India), Yunyu Wang (Taiwan), Julie Dyson (Australia), Anis  Mohd Nor (Malaysia), Lubna Marium (Bangladesh), Jun Hong Jo (Korea) and Shiu-Chin You (Taiwan).

Yunyu is well known in Australia, especially for the opportunities she has given young Australian choreographers over the last decade through her International Young Choreographers’ Program, funded by the Chin Lin Foundation. Yunyu has also hosted Australian teachers, choreographers and researchers at the Taipai National University of the Arts, including current visiting professor Leigh Warren.

WDA membership is automatically extended to all Ausdance members across Australia, providing access to networks, performance and speaking opportunities, discounts to conferences and other events, and peer reviewed publications for emerging and practising artist/academics.

The AGM focused on providing opportunities for younger members to take on positions of responsibility with the organisation, and to contribute to the vision and implementation of projects important to the future of the networks.

The leadership team now is: