Brolga 32 an Australian journal about dance

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In This Article


As the last issue of Brolga so vividly showed, the boundaries of dance are constantly being extended, and that theme continues this time, offering different perspectives. Anna Pavlova was the first truly international star of classical ballet, her missionary zeal pushing boundaries geographically and taking her to places that had never seen it before, including Townsville, Rockhampton, Mackay and Bundaberg. Having discussed in Brolga 30 Pavlova’s first, 1926, Australian tour, in this issue Nina Melita investigates audience and critical reaction to her second and last tour in 1929, and its effects on the community; also discussed are aspects of Pavlova’s personality, personal life and views on the place of the arts in Australia.

Although it is sometimes forgotten, Pavlova was among Diaghilev’s dancers who so astonished Paris in 1909. She disagreed with his radical views, however, and appeared again with his company only in London in 1911. Stravinksy’s Rite of Spring would not have been to her taste. Its riot-causing premiere in 1913, however, has resonated ever since, both musically and choreographically, and is essential to Amanda Card’s stimulating essay on American iconoclast Yvonne Rainer, French scientist/choreographer Xavier Le Roy and Sydney dance group The Fondue Set. Card sees the work of Le Roy and The Fondue Set as both paying homage to dance and its history and offering a critique of it.

In a video clip Le Roy describes his work as experimental, and experiment of a different kind led to grand results when the Australian Choreographic Centre in Canberra set up a youth company, Quantum Leap, in 1999.

Five years later Shona Erskine interviewed the Centre’s director, Mark Gordon, and Quantum Leap’s artistic director, Ruth Osborne; her discussion of the program, based on observation of the dancers and staff and conversations with Gordon and Osborne, indicates how a project of this kind can have a direct influence on the community and the public perception of dance, spreading its boundaries ever more widely.
Perception of performers by an audience, and vice versa, is the basis for Clare Dyson’s paper, in which she 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?

Leslie White, a much-admired teacher who died last Boxing Day, was among a group of dancers who introduced ballet to thousands of schoolchildren during the 1970s; his colleague from those days, Christine Courtney, has written a personal reminiscence. Julie Dyson reports on a new World Dance Alliance – Asia Pacific publishing venture, of which the first volume, which celebrates dance in Cambodia, is reviewed by Cheryl Stock—more stretching of geographical boundaries for dance—and this is one of four reviews of books covering a wide field.

As editor I am more than usually grateful to the contributors to this issue, and to David Bonsall, our art editor.


Pavlova’s 1929 Australian tour

Following on from her article in Brolga 30 about Pavlova’s first Australian tour, Nina Melita investigates audience reaction to the second and final tour in 1929. She talks about the effects on the community, aspects of Pavlova’s personality, personal life and Pavlova's views on the arts in Australia.

Homage and critique in contemporary dance

Amanda Card writes about American iconoclast Yvonne Rainer, French scientist/choreographer Xavier Le Roy and Sydney dance group The Fondue Set. According to Card the work of both Le Roy and The Fondue Set pay homage to dance and its history, and she offers a critique of it.

Quantum leaping

Shona Erskine interviews Mark Gordon, director of the Australian Choreographic Centre, and Ruth Osborne, artistic director of the Quantum Leap Youth Choreographic Ensemble in Canberra. This discussion of the program, indicates how this kind of project can have a direct influence on the community and the public perception of dance.