Having access to a live studio space (with excellent internet speed!) has meant I have been able to gather a community to share a screen/dance practice. In addition to 14 dance practitioners (7 live in the studio, and 7 via the “Zoomasphere”) there has been another 15 coming to the classes I have been offering in contemporary dance, dance improvisation and yoga. Some known faces (Tanya, Alix, Lisa, Bev and Susie) and then a completely new cohort of dance enthusiasts (untrained) who are spreading the word through their networks. Last Friday afternoon I led nine people, from a mix of ages and backgrounds, through improvisation scores designed to sensitise, to tune into our physical landscapes while opening our awareness to the location and the other diverse bodies in it. The last 30 minutes saw a rich group improvisation that played between watching and moving, considering strategies for joining another’s activity and for affecting the environment being played out upon.
“By giving weight to the transient and significance to the incidental, each artistic encounter, each performance, is a reminder of community, a yearning for touch.” (DR in conversation at Precipice, 2016)
In seeking out ex ADT dancers who are still moving I found myself in an African Dance class led by former ADT dancer (1960’s/70’s) Ibina Cundell. An excellent gathering for over 50’s who want to keep moving and keep connecting with others in real time and space. (Tuesdays 10.30am at the Walkerville RSL)
On Thursday evening I led a contemporary dance class for the ADT Youth Ensemble, showed some footage, and talked about my residency and their potential involvement in the showing outcome on July 1st.
And I filmed and interviewed my last two live participants, Carol Wellman Kelly and Sarah Munn.
Bodies of work
This has been an opportunity to reconnect with colleagues with whom I worked over a decade ago—to bring each other up to date on our practices and what interests us now. Simon Ellis (UK) and I talked about our “bodies of work” as a metaphor, a philosophical idea about bodies constantly updating, transmission, the inability to be fixed, not just the dance aspect, but in the nature of being with things (spaces, cameras, people). Simon and I have met through screendance practice: I documented some of his work, and supported a development of Inert while I was Artistic Director at Dancehouse (2006). Simon, as an editor of the International Journal of Screendance, invited me to contribute alongside himself and Lucy Cash in Vol 2. in 2012.
Now, both of us have a physical practice that includes yoga as the physical maintenance (strength, flexibility, breath and focus) and solo improvisation as the way of attending to the now. Here I am in this body now, which is a different attention to everyday living. We talked about the generational shifts (or repetitions) in screendance practice, how the present day online ‘dance’ videos are being choreographed by the software and what that means for us as screendance practitioners…
“I saw two teenagers in a park doing a highly repetitive dance for their phone. It was really cold, March in London, and they were congregating around their phone the way people might congregate around a fire to keep their bodies warm.” (SE, Zoom discussion, 2 June 2021)
Ami Skånberg Dahlstedt (Sweden) and I met in Melbourne in 2007 just inside the door of Dancehouse. She very warmly welcomed me thinking I had turned up for the Japanese dance class she was offering while visiting from Sweden. I was actually about to teach a contemporary dance class in the upstairs studio, so when no-one showed for her initial class she joined mine. After the class she suggested we have a glass of champagne. It was 11.30am. I instantly liked her! We went on to do each others’ classes and make a short film during her stay. Then in 2009 she found funding for us to collaborate with a Japanese dancer Heidi S. Durning on Wolfcoffee (Vargkaffe) which we made in residence at Ricklundgarden, Saxnas and toured around Southern Lapland.
After our Zoom meeting on 8 June we decided to set up an ongoing shared dance practice via Zoom.
We met again the next day, both in dance studios this time and let our talking (after reviewing a bit of Wolfcoffee)
evolve into dancing for and with each other, playing with our proximity, edges of frame, angle and movement of the frame (laptop).
“It is like no time has passed…and I feel you are dancing in the room with me. We have similar aesthetics and drives to continue working in screen and performance, and we are both also stand up comedians”
(ASD, June 2021)
Elizabeth Cameron Dalman and I danced together 21 years ago as part of Luke Hockley’s choreographic fellowship at The Choreographic Centre, Canberra (2000). Luke was a Dance/Drama student of mine at Deakin University (1996) and his fellowship continued this theme of intergenerational collaboration to include my teacher Elizabeth (at the BA Dance in 1984), a peer of Luke’s from Buzz Dance, Danielle Michich, and two young Quantum Youth Ensemble graduates, Paul O’Keefe and Paul Zivkovich (Paul Zivkovich later became a dancer for ADT). I travelled to her home/studio/retreat accommodation, Mirramu, last weekend to talk to her about her dancing (beginnings and shifts) and to film her dancing now to add to the mix of live bodies filmed so far in Adelaide (most of whom with a connection to ADT). Elizabeth, the national treasure of Australian dance (as dubbed by Mark Gordon), continues to have a busy schedule of projects, performing for stage (4 years recently in Michael Keegan-Dolan’s Swan Lake) and screen, as well as teaching, directing, writing and completing her PhD. It was a little odd to reconnect after such a long time and for her to be directed by me (instead of her directing others which she is doing a lot of currently) and with improvisational scores for camera (rather than with scripts and storyboards). But in her home terrain, in her studio and on the lake where she has performed many times, we were able to dance a duet between bodies, camera and landscape.
The creative development of this work has been kindly supported by Australian Dance Theatre’s Artist in Residence/ICC Program.