increasing the visibility of dance in Sydney : past, present and future.
Dancing Sydney : with Critical Path
Sydney based artists explore their own dance archives with assistance from Dancing Sydney, Critical Path and the State Library of NSW.
Archives should be places of transformation and translation, not just sites of accumulation, where bits of ephemera – notes, books, diaries, photos, videos – gather dust. This Dancing Sydney : Mapping Movements : Performing Histories project seeks to address the ephemerality of dance by finding, creating and reinvigorating old and new, public and private dance archives, not only the kind that exist in text and objects, but also those that are produced and maintained within and through someone’s body dancing.
There is a contemporary fascination with the role of the performance archive and the role of the archive in performance. Our project engages in a local dialogue with artists about archives and archiving, asking: how do we not only preserve but also disseminate and invigorate the past for the present, and the present for the future of dance in Sydney?
Our answers place the performing artist and their interests in research and innovation at the centre of the enquiry.
(L to R) Martin del Amo, Lee Wilson (Branch Nebula), Claire Hicks, Anadavalli at the State Library of NSW. Photo: Laura Osweiler
Kay Armstong, “Through the Lens”, exploring then (photographs across a 30 year dance career) and now (from story telling to visual art).
Dancing Sydney : Activating the Archive
Convenor: Amanda Card
Collaborators: Department of Theatre & Performance Studies & School of Literature, Art and Media, University of Sydney
This project is a series of curated symposia presented at the Department of Theatre and Performance Studies.
In 2019 there will be two events, each screening a film of an Australian dance work of historical significance, produced in Sydney. This will be followed by a curated discussion with dancers, choreographers, other creatives, critics and historians exploring the making, reception and impact of the original performance.
Activating the Archive 2: Dinosaur (1985) directed by Rhys Martin and presented by the One Extra Company at Performance Space. This was an influential example of dance theatre/contemporary performance. Artists involved in this work included John Baylis, Scott Blick, Clare Grant, Roz Hervey, Garry Lester, Julie-Anne Long, and Chris Ryan.
Each symposia will be open to an invited audience across the dance, theatre and the performance community. Each event’s discussion will be filmed, and chaired by one of the three academics involved this symposia’s parent project Dancing Sydney : mapping movements : performing histories:
Funding for this project comes from the School of Letters Art and Media, University of Sydney.
IMAGES: Dinosaur (1985) From top: Julie-Anne Long (at microphone) Scott Blick (right) John Baylis (left); Clare Grant and friend; group shot — from left Garry Lester, Chris Ryan, Roz Hervey, Scott Blick, (behind) John Baylis; Julie-Anne Long with spider, Roz Hervey (left), Garry Lester (right)
Dancing Sydney : In Response: Dialogues with RealTime
In Response: Dialogues with RealTime is an exhibition marking the closure of RealTime art magazine and the launch of its archive. RealTime was Australia’s critical guide to national and international contemporary arts 1994-2018 and has played a crucial role in documenting and providing critical commentary on work in dance, performance, sound, music, film, digital media and visual art that carved out new terrain in those fields. Academics at UNSW have been working with the editors of RealTime Keith Gallasch and Virginia Baxter, UNSW Library and the National Library of Australia since 2017 to secure the RealTime archive in both its physical and digital form. The collaboration between UNSW and RealTime is celebrated through this exhibition that contributes to innovations at the interface between performance, the archive and the gallery.
The exhibition features the oeuvres of Martin del Amo, Branch Nebula (Lee Wilson and Mirabelle Wouters) and Vicki Van Hout, Sydney-based artists working across performance, choreography, site-specific work, video art, visual arts and writing. Coverage of the artists’ work in RealTime is presented in the exhibition space through printed and spoken word alongside artefacts from relevant performances, documentation (photographic and audiovisual), and related texts (programs, other media coverage). Throughout the life of the exhibition there will be three public presentations, one each month, where the artists guide us through their gallery room and provide insights into their practice and their relationship with the critical commentary surrounding their work. The exhibition closes with the launch of the RealTime archive and a brief recount of the three presentations.
In Response: Dialogues with RealTime is presented as part of UNSW Library’s Exhibitions Program. The exhibition is co-curated by Dr. Erin Brannigan (Senior Lecturer SAM) and the artists in consultation with Jackson Mann, (Curator, Special Collections and Exhibitions, UNSW Library), RealTime founders and editors, Virginia Baxter and Keith Gallasch, and fellow RealTime Guardians, Dr. Caroline Wake and Gail Priest. The curators thank the RealTime team for their practical support of the project.
The RealTime Archive is a collaboration between Open City Inc., National Library of Australia, the School of the Arts and Media, UNSW and UNSW Library.
Open City, the publisher of RealTime, has been supported by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding body, and by the Visual Arts and Craft Strategy (VACS), an initiative of the Australian, State and Territory Governments.
Interviews by Erin Brannigan with Martin del Amo, Vicki Van Hout and Branch Nebula (and part of exhibition catalogue and the read reviews from RealTime that are a feature of the exhibition) can be found at Arts and Social Science Repository, UNSW.
Images (top to bottom): In Response flier; Martin del Amo performs; audience for Martin Del Amo; Branch Nebula in conversation with each other and their audience (left on chairs Mirabelle Wouters & right Lee Wilson); audience for Branch Nebula write impressions of their work on gallery walls (at Branch Nebula’s request).
Dancing Sydney : Dance in the City
resilient creative practices and tactical artistic networks
CREATIVE WORKS devised and facilitated by Julie-Anne Long
The aims and significance of this multimodal creative research program will be to: contribute to contemporary understandings of the relationship between dance, sustainability and the city, through innovative models for curating and producing artistic practice; draw attention to the resilient work practices of the independent dance sector and the strength of its community networks, as unique self-organising systems, adapting and repositioning in times of crisis; contributenew knowledge of creative methods and performance through multimodal understandings of how to nurture and sustain dance practices; increase the visibility of ephemeral time-based dance processes and products in a city where the labour of dance often slips away between performances and events; promote meaningful discussion for artists, policy makers and future researchers that will address critical issues and develop strategies for innovative dance practice, to contribute to the maintenance of a vibrantly diverse culture, at a local, national and international level.
The Creative Works Program consists of two projects planned for 2020-2022: a public participatory performance event, Project Workspace; a large-scale film installation, Trouble: a place in time. These creative projects directly address the major themes of the research: place/space, visibility/invisibility, mapping, community, independence, sustainability, art and labour.
2020: Project Workspace (Lost Weekend)
curated large-scale performance event; resilient creative practices and tactical artistic networks (mapping, community, independence, sustainability, art and labour)
Over the length of a long weekend, from late afternoon Friday until sundown on Sunday, clusters of artists inhabit a space to expose the perennial processes of dance practice. This will provide opportunities for communication of those processes of dance-making to a general audience, revealing altruistic behaviours and creating a space/place for developing relationships with other artists and organizations. This weekend challenges accepted notions of art practice and work for both artists and audience participants. An assumption is often made that ‘real work’ happens ‘on the floor’ in the dance studio. A dance-making process interrupted by periods of seemingly unproductive time (as a result of deficient funding or limited employment) gives the appearance that the artist is inactive during periods when no visible creative outcomes are produced. Project Workspace (Lost Weekend) reveals that these periods of ‘non-productivity’ can be extremely important in maintaining a practice and developing possibilities for future activity. This is enhanced if artists have access to places where face-to-face connections can be made. The weekend includes visceral evidence of dancers working, dancing, talking, rehearsing and training; a long table of multiple computers where artists will be writing grant applications and undertaking research; the smell of coffee; and a conveyor belt of dance ephemera, including bodies as archives.
While this program will be disciplinary specific, the issues it examines are not restricted to dance and the findings will have significance for other art forms – especially those that involve live performance. The aim of Project Workspace is to develop an innovative model for producing and curating dance work and collaborative processes through a public participatory performance event. The model explores the underlying meaning of art as labour to propose solutions for production of artistic dance work and communities of dance practice.
2021-2022 TROUBLE: a place in time
film installation (place/space, visibility/invisibility, mapping, community, independence, sustainability, art and labour)
TROUBLE is a large-scale film installation that explores new modes of production for making dance and performance in response to the time and place we find ourselves in. TROUBLE is generating a community of practice that is in support of self-organising individuals, clusters and networks from within the local independent dance sector. One of the most notable aspects of the dance sector in Sydney is the diversity of practice. It is the ‘unlikeness’ of this state-of-affairs that this film installation privileges, representing as many as 100 artists filmed in a hyper-stylised not-quite-real architectural model.
In the last few decades, dancers have become ‘bodies for hire’ (Card 2006), moving from city to city in response to pick-up project employment. Yet there are a number of significant dance artists who were once based in Sydney and/or still call Sydney home, despite their global mobility. Along with an inclusive cast of dance artists engaged in the Sydney dance sector today, there will also be artists invited to revisit past works for the film: Ros Crisp and Andrew Morrish, Gideon Obarzanek and Garry Stewart, Tess de Quincey, Nicki Heywood and Alan Schacher, Anandavali and Narelle Benjamin, Martin del Amo, Kate Champion, Sue Healey.
Photos: Fraser St Studio by Heidrun Lohr; Omeo studio by Julie-Anne Long
Dancing Sydney : Anatomy of a Dance Work
Editor: Amanda Card
In 2012 Amanda edited an edition of the Australian dance journal Brolga (36) with the subtitle: Anatomy of a Dance Work. This edition concentrated on one work - Anatomy of an Afternoon, choreographed by Martin del Amo for dancer Paul White. Amanda gathered together artists and academics to reflect on the development, presentation and viewing of Anatomy of an Afternoon in its first stage of development at Critical Path (2011) and its presentation at the Sydney Festival (January 2012). Later the work was presented in London.
Under the auspices of Dancing Sydney, Amanda will develop subsequent publications on one dance work under the title Anatomy of a Dance Work. No. 2 is being planned around Cella, choreographed by Narelle Benjamin and performed by Narelle and Paul White (Stuttgart (2017), Sydney (2018), and in 2019 Melbourne).
IMAGE by Heidrun Löhr, of Paul White on the cover of Brolga, No. 36, 2012.
Writing Dancing is a collective of artists, academics, students and writers who have met once a month since the ‘Finding a Language for my Practice’ workshop at UNSW with Stephen Muecke in 2010. We have a responsive, organic and non-outcome focused approach that is centered on writing exercises brought to the group from elsewhere or devised by group members that encourage writing towards, about, around and alongside dancing. Sometimes this involves us in dancing too. We also respond to particular writing briefs that participants put forward (succinct by-lines, responses to live works, feedback on writing), do some shared reading (for example the Language poets), and also discuss current work, programs, pedagogy and politics associated with Dance. Sometimes artists just talk about their current projects. The group is about community as well as work.