New Australian dance book launched

Shaping the Landscape: Celebrating Dance in Australia was launched by high profile Malaysian architect Hijjas Kasturi yesterday at the World Dance Alliance conference in Kuala Lumpur, in the presence of the Australian High Commissioner to Malaysia, Miles Kupa, and other dignatories. Read his speech.

This is a new Routledge publication which I've co-edited with Stephanie Burridge, so it was exciting to see it launched along with the Malaysian edition, Sharing Identities. These volumes are the third and fourth in the Celebrating dance in Asia and the Pacific series.

L to R: Hijjas Kasturi, Julie Dyson, Mohd Anis Mohd Nor, Stephanie Burridge and Australian High Commissioner to Malaysia, Miles Kupa.

The Australian volume was produced with the support of the Australia Council, and the launch was sponsored by the Australia-Malaysia Institute. It featured a short and powerful performance by Australian dancer and choreographer Daniel Jaber and his Malaysian partner Suhaili Micheline, who have spent the last 12 months as artists in residence at Rimbun Dahan, the artists' compound just outside Kuala Lumpur owned by Hijjas Kasturi and his family. Bilqis Hijjas, President of MyDance Alliance in Malaysia, had organised a cake in the shape of a large book with the covers of both the Malaysian and Australian publications reproduced in icing sugar – and the cake was delicious!

It was exciting to see the high profile that Australian dance received during the launch, and we're very proud to have been able to produce such a comprehensive range of writing by our artists, academics and journalists. We're hoping it will become part of every dance student's library in the years to come, and help fill a major gap in knowledge about Australian dance, both here and overseas.

As Professor Shirley McKechnie said, 'The publication is a real triumph and I am very excited about it. ...I think you have produced the most valuable text we have so far on Australian dance.'