Creating dance

Articles

Fusion of Australian contemporary dance and Mobius Kiryuho

This paper discusses the exploration of cultural diversity and the creation of common ground and understanding through choreographic practice in a cross-cultural, international collaboration between Mirramu Dance Company (Australia) and Kyoko Sato from the Mobius Kiryuho Institute (Japan). The paper explores the differences and the similarities discovered in each of our culturally specific movement practices, during the creative process of a dance production, Silk, and discusses how these discoveries influenced the choreographic content of the performance.

Dancing into belonging: towards co-presence in place

The paper advocates for the possibilities of dance in community development and place-making contexts through its proposition of a ‘phenomenology of belonging’. From her vantage as facilitator/director of video series Dancing Place, the author observes sensory interactions between participants’ bodies and the sites in which they performed, as enhancing relationality between participants and place.

Conceived as part of an ARC Discovery Project exploring potentials of artistic methods to challenge neighbourhood-based stigma, led by sociologist Deborah Warr, and employing the expertise of screendance artist Dianne Reid to create the video works, Dancing Place invited diverse residents of Wyndham, Victoria, to dance to their favourite music in their favourite local sites. Through reflection upon the project, the author teases out issues of visibility, embodiment, identity, marginalisation and changing relationships to place.

The participants of varied cultural and social backgrounds, age, gender and levels of dance training, inevitably chose to dance in very different styles and places. The paper explores some political and social ramifications of (being represented via video) dancing in relation to place for particular groups and individuals, and outlines the facilitating artist’s motivations for the project’s structural framework. Rather than presuming or contriving a unified ‘community’, the nine distinctively discrete videos were presented side by side, which collectively evoked a sense of co-presence, or parallel belonging.   

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. 

The Big 4-0!

The Big 4-0! While turning the big 40 can provoke anxiety, soul-searching and the purchase of sports cars in humans, for an organisation to reach this marker is a cause for unadulterated celebration. This year marks this milestone for Ausdance, Australia’s national body for dance advocacy, education and outreach. First established in 1977 as the Australian Association for Dance Education (AADE) in Melbourne, Ausdance’s mission was to provide a united voice for Australia’s burgeoning dance community. Over these last four decades the accomplishments of Ausdance have been as varied as they have been numerous but the goal has remained the same: to educate, inspire and support the dance community to reach its potential as a dynamic force within local, national and international spheres.

Creating Pathways keynote speech by Raymond Blanco

What is contemporary Indigenous dance? When did this term become associated with our culture, our dance? Or is it Indigenous Contemporary? Have we an Historical Dance Culture or are we living a Dance Culture History? Do we make now from then or is it from then now? For some of us exposure to contemporary Indigenous dance came from television. If we were really lucky we had a group of dancers come to our town and teach and perform at our schools, and for the unlucky our only exposure came from Bangarra.

Creating Pathways—a collective vision and direction for the future of Indigenous dance

Lydia Miller discusses ongoing vision of successive generations of Indigenous artists. The cultural renaissance in Indigenous arts and culture began in the 1980s with the emergence of a critical mass of young, vibrant Indigenous artists who took to the stages and the galleries with the electric energy that is synonymous with Indigenous artists. Dance, theatre, music and visual arts emerged onto the national arts landscape with the edginess, candour, vibrancy and challenge of these young Indigenous minds, bodies, and spirits.

Documenting the influence of travel on my artistic practice

Gabrielle Nankivell, the inaugural recipient of the Ausdance Keith Bain Choreographic Travel Fellowship, shares her travel story, research notes and workbook from Vienna, Munich, Barcelona and Berlin, where old and new influences shape her practice.

The subject of travel and professional development, and the value this experience offers artistic practice, arises regularly in the dance arena. As artists we seek these experiences because we are hoping to find something other than what we know or perhaps even something that makes us finally feel at home – either way, we are seeking something to ignite our imaginations and to deepen our knowledge and empathy. We hope to meet people, build new relationships and share practice. We imagine it will generate energy and feed our motivation. We take to the road to connect with others and to connect with our selves. To paraphrase the sentiment of many a wanderlust quote, travel opens the mind and makes the heart grow... We know and the philanthropists know. Travel and international exchange is a good thing.

Patrick (Lucky) Lartey receives Keith Bain Choreographic Travel Fellowship

Patrick (Lucky) Lartey is a Sydney-based dancer and choreographer, originally from Ghana, West Africa. In September this year he was awarded the Keith Bain Choreographic Travel Fellowship, which provides financial assistance for an emerging choreographer to travel internationally with the sole purpose of developing and extending their choreographic practice.

Unrooted and rerouted ‘otherness’ in an international nexus

Nerida Matthaei, Australian dancer, choreographer and artistic director of Phluxus2 Dance Collective shares her experience of the World Dance Alliance Korea Choreolab and conference. Nerida received the Chin Lin Award for the best young scholar for her Pecha Kucha presentation at the World Dance Alliance Asia Pacific conference in Korea.

Gaps in the body: attention and improvisation

Fraser writes of having arrived at an understanding of improvisation that, rather than being about moving, is about ‘attention’. Instead of using an (imagined) objective view of a body to generate or create interesting or new movements, he employs a kind of noticing from the inside to move with his body, to cooperate with it as it fluctuates and changes. This noticing is full of ‘gaps’ and his attention is drawn to certain physical sites only to be lost as the noticing of a particular area swells, is dispersed or is replaced by a more immediate physical concern.

The ethos of the mover/witness dyad: an experimental frame for participatory performance

This article reflects on a dance improvisation project in which the foundational relationship of the Mover Witness Dyad (MWD), the private exchange between mover and witness (and more commonly known as Authentic Movement) became an ethical and physical paradigm for an improvised performance. The untitled performance (danced by Olivia Millard, Peter Fraser, Jason Marchant, Sophia Cowen and myself) took place over three nights in Melbourne in November 2014. It was specifically informed by the experiences, observations and questions drawn from an extensive studio practice of the MWD by myself and the other dancers. The practice of the MWD is a therapeutic relationship between contemplative mover and attentive witness. Falling within the wider field of Dance Movement Therapy (DMT), the MWD has uses as a therapeutic aid, in personal development and also as a context for exploring dance improvisation.

What’s the score? Using scores in dance improvisation

Olivia Millard explores the use of scores or verbal propositions in improvising dance. Examining the use of scores in her improvisation practice, she discusses what scores might be and might do and how they relate to the real time composition of dance in the present of its making. To help explore these ideas I refer to the theory of Nelson Goodman and discuss the use of scores by other dance practitioners including Steve Paxton, Yvonne Meier and Anna Halprin.

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