World Dance Alliance August 2017 update

‘Dancing from the Grassroots’ was the title of the World Dance Alliance Global Summit, held last month at the Memorial University, St John’s, Newfoundland.

Professor Beverley Diamond, professor of ethnomusicology at Memorial University, delivered a fascinating keynote address on the first day, 'Time and the body: Where music and dance meet – sometimes'. The opening was also graced with a wonderful welcome by Eastern Owl, 'a unique group of women who blend the styles of First Nations drum music and contemporary folk to create their innovative sound'.

Australians attending the 2017 WDA Global SummitAustralians attending the WDA Global Summit: Julie Dyson, Anja Ali-Haapala, John Utans (with his performers from HK Academy of Performing Arts), Sonia York-Pryce, Lucinda Coleman and Ellen Avery (WAAPA), and Rosemary Bennett.

Australia was well represented in various presentations, including two by Sonia York-Pryce about ageism and the mature dancer. Sonia’s film, featuring ageing dancers, was shown as part of a panel entitled The Digital Concert moderated by Zihao Li, who also presented a fascinating paper called 'Guangchangwu: A Study in Sustainable Community Dance Practices in Public Spaces'. He demonstrated that age was no barrier to the use of technology by the elderly in China, and warned that we must all be prepared to acknowledge its incredible value to those in our communities who want to dance.

Anja Ali-Haapala presented her early research into Australian ballet audiences in the 1940s–1960s; Rosemary Bennett presented a paper on sustaining creativity and imagination through music and dance in the home and primary school environments, and Lucinda Coleman presented 'Remnants of Us: Collective Dance Making as Multi-Art Form Praxis'. Cheryl Stock was, unfortunately, a late withdrawal due to illness, but several New Zealanders, including Barbara Snook and Sarah Knox, presented their research through papers and workshops.

Also featured were Choreolabs, a health series panel, dance education studies, and papers and performances from a range of diverse cultures and artists. The ‘grassroots’ theme was extremely well represented by speakers, workshop leaders and choreographers, making this a fascinating and challenging WDA Global Summit.

The full program can be found here. Our thanks go to the organisers, especially Mary Jane Warner, president of WDA Americas, and Linda Caldwell and Ann Kipling Brown for their curation of scholarly papers, and to the wonderful team of volunteers.

The Global Summit also hosted the WDA AGM led by Secretary General Anis Mohd Nor, and network meetings for Creation & Presentation, Research & Documentation and Education & Training. Reports from these meetings will be available shortly. Julie Dyson, Ausdance National's WDA representative, was re-elected to the Global Executive.

Four performers onstage singing and playing percussive instruments.Eastern Owl performers at the opening of the WDA Gobal Summit in St John’s, Newfoundland. Photos: Julie Dyson