CONFERENCE // CONTRA: Dance & Conflict

Many thanks to the Dance Studies Association (DSA) for allowing me to present my paper “Choreographed Reconciliation: An Inquiry into Nationalist and Conciliatory Rhetoric in Australian Dance Discourse” at the DSA’s 2018 conference in Valletta, hosted by the University of Malta’s School of Performing Arts from 5-8 July.

See the published programme at: https://s3.amazonaws.com/dance-studies-association/downloads/DSA2018MaltaProgram_6_18_18.pdf

2018 Graduate Research Writing and Publishing Workshop in Prato

Thanks to Monash University’s Faculty of Arts for awarding me a bursary to attend the 2018 Graduate Research Writing and Publishing Workshop in Prato. Monash University explains, “the workshop’s aim is to mentor graduate research candidates in the Faculty to enhance their skills in preparing, writing, and getting an article published in a major academic journal or a chapter published in a book released by a recognised quality commercial or university press publisher. The workshop is comprised of a three-day residency at the Monash University Prato Centre.”

How to Like Dance

It’s a Sunday afternoon in Melbourne’s busy inner-northern suburbs and I’m wandering around empty dance studios at Dancehouse. The lights are switched off throughout Carlton Hall, a former community centre-cum-dance hub, and I can’t spot a sign directing me to the first session of the How to Like Dance workshop. I finally find the facilitator, theatre critic and author Alison Croggon, alone in the back-of-house office, sitting at a conference table and unsuccessfully trying to turn up the volume on her PowerPoint slide show. The six remaining participants are yet to arrive.

How to Like Dance (HTLD) is a collaboration between Dancehouse and the Keir Choreographic Award (KCA), facilitated by online theatre magazine Witness Performance. It’s delivered by Witness founders, Croggon and the theatre all-rounder, Robert Reid. The workshop consists of two three-hour, Sunday afternoon dance appreciation workshops, a ticket to each of the KCA’s two weeknight programmes, a further one-hour discussion group after the second programme, and a free glass of wine.

KCA, now in its third edition, is Australia’s most prestigious (and only) contemporary dance prize, and has quickly asserted its place and mission in the Australian dance field by ‘promoting innovation, experimentation and cross-artform practices in contemporary dance’. It biennially commissions eight new works by Australian dancemakers, and the eight finalists vie for a AUD 30,000 grand prize and AUD 10,000 audience prize.

HTLD forms part of a larger public programme accompanying the KCA, including choreographic workshops for the local dance community led by the KCA’s international jury members Meg Stuart and Eszter Salamon; a dance documentation activity, Scribe, for recording audience reactions; and a range of panel discussions on timely, hot-button topics, featuring academics and local and international dance professionals.

There seems to be a growing interest in dance appreciation and audience engagement and development programming worldwide. For example, Springback editor Sanjoy Roy wrote about his ‘dates with dance’ experiment, and in 2014 I had the opportunity to tailor dance appreciation activities for the festival temps d’images in Düsseldorf, Germany (as part of a small team of dance researchers). Why might this be? My best bet is that as contemporary dance becomes progressively less like normative ideas about dance – that is, virtuosic, codified movement set to music and presented on stage to an audience – spectators are increasingly pondering how to respond, and whether they’re doing it right. Continue reading How to Like Dance

MEDIA // RUNWAY – Australian Experimental Art, No.36

MEDIA // How to Like Dance (1)

PUBLICATION // CONTACT QUARTERLY, Vol.43 No.1

The journal article “Sara Shelton Mann: In the Presence of Action”, orchestrated by Anya Cloud, Karen Schaffman, and Sara Shelton Mann with research and editing assistance from Luke Forbes, was recently published in Contact Quarterly.

Sara Shelton Mann grew up in rural Tennessee. At age 17, arts, politics, and culture collided for her under one roof at Shorter College in Georgia. “I was just a southern hick running away from the people I grew up with. Franziska Boas, a queer German-Jewish woman, a professor who was wanted by the Ku Klux Klan, was my lifeline.” At the advice of Franziska, Sara moved to New York City with $500 in her pocket to study with Alwin Nikolais in order to become, as Sara calls it, “a complete professional.” And she did. At the age of 74, Sara is a blazing force; she is actively and ardently researching, choreographing, performing, and teaching.

To read the article, please click here.

2018 National Library of Australia Norman McCann Summer Scholarship

Many thanks to the National Library of Australia (NLA) and the McCann family for making this period of archival research possible. As stated by the NLA, the

[…] annual summer scholarships support younger scholars undertaking postgraduate research, who require special access to the Library’s collections.

Scholars spend six weeks at the Library, commencing in the second week of January each year. They have privileged access to the Library’s materials and facilities, as well as sustained interaction with Library staff.

Norman McCann Scholarships are offered to those working in Australian history, Australian literature, librarianship, archives administration, and museum studies.

For more information, see the National Library of Australia’s website here.

EXCERPT // Anti-Gravity – Anouk van Dijk (Chunky Move)

Van Dijk’s and Nyen’s exploration of clouds, stability and transience is perhaps most tangible in a brief scene during which a dancer perches himself atop the framed pane of glass and appears to be levitating. Meanwhile, centre stage, two females execute highly physical phrases of movement in unison. The choreography could be described as typical of van Dijk’s artistic practice: in contrast to the illusion of weightlessness beside them, one of each dancer’s feet is always firmly planted on the floor. They use gravity as a productive force, rather than fight against it (as ballet dancers would) to achieve an appearance of lightness. 
– LUKE AARON FORBES
  .
Published by Time Out Melbourne, 20 March 2017.