Choreographic development

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    The negotiations of relationship—a conversation about dance improvisation

    This paper is a conversation about building depth in our relationships with our bodies and our meeting points with each other. Framed within the context of an improvisational dance practice, the authors, Dianne Reid and Melinda Smith, reflect upon their long-term shared dance practice, their evolving performance work, Dance Interrogations, and the cultural shifts possible as a result of long-term artistic practice. Their unique, long-standing collaboration (over six years and continuing) is unique in Australia and internationally. It is a collaboration which challenges deeply held beliefs around the low expectations of people who have a disability and explores the choreographic potential in the body and artist who experiences Cerebral Palsy—a condition affecting the muscular and skeletal system and which can make voluntary movement such as that in dance, difficult. Their practice itself constantly shifts between artistic formats in both studio and performance contexts, and draws upon a range of technologies familiar within the cultures of screendance and disability. This account is improvisational, an undoing of structure, to encourage other angles and depths of perception.

    Dancing participation: Observations of a long-term group dance improvisation practice

    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.

    Placing knowledge in the body: Western Australian choreographers dancing ‘With a Bullet’

    This research investigates the studio processes of seven Western Australian choreographers to develop case studies that unpack the memories, emotions, and sensations that illuminate creative decision making in experts. These dance professionals participated in Natalie Cursio’s With A Bullet: The Album Project (2006-7; 2013–4) that invites them to recall the first song to which they ever ‘made up a dance’, and to use this piece of music as a springboard for, and soundtrack to, a new piece of choreography.

    The study uses qualitative measures of phenomenological and somatic modes of attention to examine choreographic cognition, with a focus on ‘knowing how’, and other manifestations of ‘feeling’ that a decision is ‘right’, in order to illuminate creative decision making in choreography. I use the choreographers’ memories, emotions, and sensations to interpret their strategies for problem solving in the complex physical, emotional and social space of the studio. Memories and knowledge can take the form of tacit understandings performed during the process of transmission from choreographers to dancers, offering alternative ways of knowing and articulating creative processes.

    Cursio’s With A Bullet offered a unique opportunity for choreographers to reflect on their own development as artists, and the research presented here makes a contribution to the ongoing task of placing embodied knowledge on a par with that expressed through linguistic propositions.

    Overexposed, yet rarely seen. Dance improvisation as performance in the Australian context

    This article details the operations and dynamics of a small yet resilient community of performance practitioners who have been engaged in ‘open improvisation’ as a form for performance. The article also responds to questions about the practice and values of open improvisation. The Melbourne improvisation scene, which has grown up around Cecil Street Studio, fosters a ‘community-oriented’ practice in performance. This practice remains a common, yet often unquestioned one, and defined by an generally accepted set of principles.

    In this article, the particular focus is on a group of dance improvisation practitioners (as a subset of improvised performance activity in Melbourne) who established and presented a monthly performance event called The Little Con from 2005–2011. An examination of this marginal event raises questions about its reach and the aspirations of its participants. Would identifying and understanding the values of open improvised performance as they operate in this scene improve or deepen audience reception in Melbourne, but also in Australia more generally? Is it also possible that individual improvisers within the Melbourne improvisation community do not seek to define sufficiently nuanced practices?  Could then, a differentiated range of practices by individuals lead to a more attributable presence for dance improvisation artists and their work? This article does not find definitive resolution to these questions but seeks to activate them within a defined context of practice—a context that is at the same time impacted by activities, practices and approaches to improvisation in an international arena. 

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    Projects View all

    Keith Bain Choreographic Travel Fellowship

    The biennial Keith Bain Choreographic Travel Fellowship supports international travel and experiences by emerging choreographers (under 40 years) across any dance genre.

    Australian Youth Dance Festival

    The Australian Youth Dance Festival provides creative development opportunities for young people at all skills levels. They work with some of the finest and most exciting dance makers in Australia. The experience provides professional dance artists with creative challenges, professional development and opportunities to work alongside their peers and with Australia's rising youth dance talent. Participants include school students, youth dance company members, full-time dance students and relative beginners in dance, as well as dance teachers, choreographers and youth dance leaders.

    2013 National Dance Forum

    Exploring the unique qualities of dance as an artform and why we choose it as our mode of expression, communication or storytelling, this forum embraced views from multiple perspectives: maker, dancer, educator, audience member and the broader community, while focusing on a central question, 'Why dance?'

    2011 National Dance Forum

    Some of Australia’s most exciting dancers, choreographers, curators, critics and collaborators met to discuss and reflect on the state of dance practice in Australia now, and to chart a course for the future.

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    Publications View all

    Brolga 41

    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.

    Brolga 40

    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.

    Contemporising the past: envisaging the future

    This publication of 31 papers with authors from 13 countries takes as its focus the theme that was the title and driving force of the activities comprising the 2014 WDA Global Summit. The Summit embraced Contemporising the past: envisaging the future in an interconnection between theory and practice, as echoed in the Proceedings through papers by artist/scholars and artist/teachers. The Summit program featured 346 presenters across 38 countries and included: an international conference of 197 presentations; 31 showcase performances featuring 83 dancers; 34 masterclasses with 24 teachers and 650 participants; and a choreolab with mentors Robert Swinston and Germaine Acogny working with 4 emerging international choreographers and 38 dancers. In addition there were evening performances featuring the work of French companies including Robert Swinston’s Event and Olivier Dubois with his controversial work Tragedie. The principal aim of the Summit was to provide a supportive platform for sharing research and creative work, as well as nurturing professional development opportunities. Importantly this gathering was a networking opportunity to forge new partnerships, potential collaborations and to strengthen existing relationships.

    Dancehouse Diary

    The Dancehouse Diary aims to bring the independent dance makers’ thinking to wider audiences. It aims at developing rigorous content around their work and triggering new perspectives and connections around their research. It is a catalyst for provoking critical thinking, discourse and a poetic vision of dance and other related arts forms. It is Dancehouse’s mission to cultivate access and appreciation of this art form and for that, the Diary is a less ephemeral and a more in-­depth attempt to make those connections.

    The Australian Youth Dance Festival experience

    The Australian Youth Dance Festival reflects Ausdance’s philosophy on dance education for young people—it should be non-competitive, accessible, meet educational, ethical and safe dance standards, and have potential to develop audiences of the future.

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    News / Blog / Press Releases / Events View all

    Sir Matthew Bourne auditions male dancers for Melbourne production

    Arts Centre Melbourne, Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures and Re:Bourne, the charitable arm of New Adventures are working towards a major creative project that will culminate in a one week season at Arts Centre Melbourne’s State Theatre in Autumn 2017.

    This project offers an opportunity for Melbourne-based dancers to work for one month with choreographer Sir Matthew Bourne’s leading international dance company. 

    Sir Matthew Bourne and other members of the New Adventures team will be in Melbourne in August 2016 to audition six male dancers to join the company for this one-off project at Arts Centre Melbourne.

    Key information

    • Audition date: Saturday 6 August 2016 (applications required)
    • Recalls: Sunday 7 August 2016
    • Where: Auditions and recalls will be held in a centrally located venue in Melbourne
    • Rehearsals & season: Sunday, 14 August 2016 (workshop) & Monday 13 March – Sunday 9 April 2017
    • For Melbourne-based male dancers with at least three years of professional level training in classical or contemporary dance with a stage appearance age between 14–22.
    • Audition notice and application information on the Arts Centre Melbourne website.
    • Applications close COB Tuesday 12 July 2016.
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