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.
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.
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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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Anne Scott Wilson, a former professional dancer, discusses how she came to understand embodied processes in her visual art practice using photography.
In this paper, Dianne demonstrates the intersections of her research/practice, mixing live and screen bodies, poetic and academic writing. She is posing an improvisational approach to screendance and an embodied approach to writing as possibilities for seeing, imagining and being in the dancing, researching body. She is interrogating her own embodied knowledge as hybrid site within a live screendance body.
This article looks at a particular moment in the practice of improvisation when the individual is still attending to unique or specific needs. In time, it comes before preparations that involve others, or the doing of something that is organised into an ‘exercise’. A practice rarely begins at zero moment with a group of improvisers arriving together with everyone ready to start. An allowance is made for a transition, and what the improviser chooses to do during this time is left up to them. This is the moment I am calling–‘warming up’ or ‘to warm up’. Taken literally the expression ‘to warm up’ indicates actions a dance improviser can do to prepare their body to improvise; a body-based preparation to attend to particular bodily needs in order to be physically ready to do dance improvisation.
Australian choreographer Lewis Major was one of eight choreographers selected to participate in the International Young Choreographer Project (IYCP) held in southern Taiwan in July/August this year.
This research questions how a ‘lived experience’ of contemporary dance could be deepened for the audience. It presents a series of choreographic ‘tools’ to create alternative frameworks for presentation that challenge the dominant modes of creation, presentation and meaning making in contemporary dance. The five tools established and applied in this research are: variations of site, liminality, audience agency, audience-performer proximity and performer qualities. These tools are framed as a series of calibrated scales that allow choreographers to map decisions made in the studio in relation to potential audience engagement. The research houses multiple presentation formats from the traditional to the avant-garde and opens up possibilities for analysis of a wide range of artistic dance works. This research presents options for choreographers to map how audiences experience their work and offers opportunities to engage audiences in new and exciting ways.
Over the past thirty years, Chinese classical dance has developed in parallel with the explicit social process of the search for and the construction of Chinese modernity. Unlike the dismissal of tradition which tended to characterize the western process of modernization, Chinese dance practitioners embrace Chinese national and cultural characteristics for the purpose of cultural continuity as a matter of principle, subscribing to the political slogan ‘inheritance and development.’ This logic of constant change in the nature of Chinese cultural traditions leads to variation in Chinese dance vocabulary and the hybridisation of different dance styles in contemporary Chinese classical dance works. Therefore, this paper proposes that the idea of a reinvention of tradition, based on the premise of the academic establishment of Chinese classical dance as the ‘invention of tradition’, may produce new understandings about the phenomena of variation and inherent contradiction within contemporary Chinese dance creations.
Dance is a potential asset for peacebuilding, creating opportunities for nonverbal, embodied learning, exploring identity, and relationships. Peace scholars consider identity and relationships to the ‘other’ as key components in transforming conflict. Focusing on a case study in Mindanao, the Philippines, this paper explores the potential of dance in a peacebuilding context through embodied identity and relationships. In Mindanao, deep-seated cultural prejudices contribute to ongoing conflict entwined with identity. The permeable membrane (Cohen, Gutiérrez & Walker, 2011) is the organising framework describing the constant interaction between artists, facilitators, participants, and communities. It expands peace scholar John Paul Lederach’s concept of the moral imagination, requiring the capacity to envisage one’s self within a web of relationships. In this paper multiple methods of qualitative research including personal interviews are used to further the discussion regarding dance’s potential to diversify the nonverbal tools available for peacebuilding.
Memory, time and metaphor are central triggers for artists in exploring and shaping their creative work. This paper examines the place of artists as ‘memory-keepers’, and ‘memory-makers’, in particular through engagement with the time-based art of site-specific performance. Naik Naik (Ascent) was a multi-site performance project in the historic setting of Melaka, Malaysia, and is partially recaptured through the presence and voices of its collaborating artists. Distilled from moments recalled, this paper seeks to uncover the poetics of memory to emerge from the project; one steeped in metaphor rather than narrative. It elicits some of the complex and interdependent layers of experience revealed by the artists in Naik Naik; cultural, ancestral, historical, personal, instinctual and embodied memories connected to sound, smell, touch, sensation and light, in a spatiotemporal context for which site is the catalyst. The liminal nature of memory at the heart of Naik Naik, provides a shared experience of past and present and future, performatively interwoven.
Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring has inspired a plethora of artists in its hundred years of history. As it transcends geographic barriers, it has also been choreographed by many great dance masters such as Maurice Béjart and Pina Bausch from the West, and Hwai-Min Lin and Helen Lai from the East. In this paper, Ting-Ting Chang focuses on the choreographic aesthetics of versions of The Rite of Spring by choreographers Zhang Xiaoxiong and Shen Wei. Zhang’s version depicts images with references both to the original work of Vaslav Nijinsky, and to aspects of Asian culture in a way that is sensitive to the original music and to his memories as a child living in Cambodia. Shen has been known for his organic movement vocabulary and unique way of using Chinese cultural elements. By tracing their separate creative processes, she discuss how choreographers negotiate tradition and innovation through their different choreographic methods and aesthetic visions through contemporary dance.
New dance forums in India have evolved recently, allowing performers to identify conflict areas in performative practice. This development has arisen as a consequence of questioning techniques as exercised in classical dance pedagogy. Aastha Gandhi's research looks into different tools of performance provided by Gati Dance Forum in New Delhi to engage with these techniques through different pedagogical approaches. The learning and unlearning of performance skills constantly challenges the dancer’s perception of audience-performer, body-dance and dance-space relations, vis-à-vis the individual choreography-creating process. The need to challenge the body to go beyond the taught and practised language has consequently developed a distinct performative text, which is visual, verbal and embodied. Deriving from a theoretical idea of Paul Ricoeur’s, the performance text is examined at levels of structural explanation and interpretation, where the different components act as ‘discrete units’ to form an arranged whole and the constituent units acquire a signifying function.