Dance research

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    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.   

    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.

    Improcinemaniac

    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.

    Peace moves: dance, identity and peacebuilding

    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.

    Evoking poetics of memory through performing site

    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.

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    Projects View all

    2012 National Dance Research Forum

    In 2012, Ausdance National, with the Tertiary Dance Council of Australia (TDCA), hosted a forum for dance researchers at Deakin University and Victorian College of the Arts in Melbourne.

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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.

    Exploring identities in dance

    Proceedings from the 13th World Congress of Dance and the Child International—exploring the theme of identity in dance as it is experienced in formal, non-formal and informal settings of education.

    Dance is part of four recognised artistic areas within arts education, which is acknowledged as a key area within UNESCO’s 21st Century Skills. Dance education in particular puts an emphasis on the role of the body in artistic processes, and the body is in current research in educational studies, psychology and neurophysiology highlighted as being the ‘place’ where experiences, cognition and identity processes are grounded. A person’s identity is multi-faceted and believed to be constantly developing in intertwinement with embodied and cultural experiences, social relations and the various situations that the human being experiences.

    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.

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    News / Blog / Press Releases / Events View all

    World Dance Alliance update March 2017

    This year’s WDA Global Summit will be held from 23–28 July in St John’s, Newfoundland, a beautiful Canadian city on the east coast. Titled ‘Dancing from the Grassroots’, there will be many exciting events—performances, a conference including Pecha Kucha presentations, panel discussions and papers, and of course a Choreolab and master classes. We hope many Australians have made submissions to participate and look forward to once again having great representation from Australia at all events. Registrations will be open shortly.

    Another opportunity available to Australian Ausdance members is the International Young Choreographer Program (ICYP), which offers fellowships to eight young artists: three from Taiwan, three from other Asia Pacific countries, and one each from WDA Europe and WDA Americas.

    This year Australian Scott Ewen has been selected to participate in the ICYP. Scott attended the WDA Choreolab as a a highly regarded choreographer last year in Seoul. Congratulations Scott!

    Ausdance members are automatically members of the WDA through Ausdance National’s partnership arrangement that includes publication of Asia Pacific Channels, access to choreographic fellowships, and discounted event attendance. Make sure you’re an Ausdance member before applying for any of these events.

    2016 Choreolab participantsScott Ewen (front) with dancers and choreographers from the 2016 Choreolab at the WDA festival in Seoul. Choreolab convenor Jin-Wen Yu is kneeling, on the right. Photo: Suling Chou.

    Choreographic Practices journal: call for contributions

    Key information

    • Choreographic Practices is an international peer-reviewed journal.
    • Full article should be approx 6,000 words.
    • Deadline for full essays: 1 June 2016
    • To submit a contribution email [email protected].
    • For questions about the theme or focus of your submission, please email Robert Vesty (associate editor for this special issue).

    This special journal issue of Choreographic Practices—WORDS and DANCE—aims to draw together, contribute to and exemplify debates around the use of spoken word in current and future 21st Century dance practices as well as its place in the contemporary cultural landscape.

    What are the intersections between spoken words (in the form of live narrative, poetry, dialogue or writing) and choreographic practices?
    What is the relationship between the word and the move?
    How can/do spoken words and dance work together, especially in improvisatory practice?
    What implications does the use of voice have in dance practice?

    World Dance Alliance Asia Pacific 2016 conference: call for performances, choreolab and symposium

    In 2016, the Korean chapter of World Dance Alliance Asia Pacific (WDAAP) will host the WDAAP Annual General Meeting and surrounding activities as the event Dance routes—danced roots: connecting the local and the global. It will include showcase performances, an international choreolab and a symposium.

    Key information

    • Conference theme: Dance routes—danced roots: connecting the local and the global
    • Conference location and date: Seoul, Korea, 21–24 July 2016
    • Apply to present: performances, scholarly, performative and Pecha Kucha style presentations
    • Apply to participate in the Choreolab
    • Submission deadline: 10 January 2016
    • Acceptance notification: 28 February 2016
    • For detailed information and to apply, visit the World Dance Alliance website

    Applications are now open for participation in the following events:

    • Showcase Performances
    • International Choreolab
    • Symposium—call for proposals

    The Showcase provides a concert platform for professional choreographers and performers, and pre-professional artists training in dance academies. The performances will take place in the theaters located in the ShangShin Univeristy or Arko Theater and will be open to registered participants of the WDAAP event and the general public.

    The International Choreolab is designed for four emerging and mid-career choreographers to work intensively for almost one week under the mentorship of one Korean established dance artist and one internationally known choreographers (to be announced) resulting in a public showing of works in progress. You can apply to participate in the Choreolab as a choreographer or as a dancer.

    The Symposium theme focuses on the idea of global and local connectivity through dance, looking at roots as well as routes that dance and dancers negotiate in different cultures of the contemporary world. Presentation formats include scholarly, performative and Pecha Kucha style presentations.

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