Bodies of influence: contemporary dance in Melbourne 1995 – 2005
AuthorMiller, Sarah Elizabeth
AffiliationSchool of Performing Arts
Document TypePhD thesis
Access StatusThis item is embargoed and will be available on 2021-12-13.
© 2016 Dr. Sarah Elizabeth Miller
In the 1990s, prompted by the widely held view that the contemporary Australian dance sector was struggling, the Australia Council began a process of policy change aimed at ensuring the sustainability of contemporary Australian dance. The changes enacted by the Australia Council had a profound effect on the make-up of the Australian dance sector and dramatically changed the nature of contemporary dance practice in Melbourne in particular. In this thesis I examine choreographic works produced in Melbourne in the period 1995 – 2005. Focusing on selected works by key choreographers from this period, I argue that the period 1995 – 2005 marks a clear and fundamental change in the status of the contemporary choreographer. Shaped by an increasing trend towards professionalisation and the requirements of recurrent funding models, the craft of choreography during this time came to rely upon the language of business and mainstream culture to justify its value. At the same time, because contemporary dance became further ensconced within the university sector, it became a critical practice that provided a performance based model for exploring and critiquing social issues and ideas. I present a case study analysis of five Melbourne-based choreographers from which I demonstrate how individual choreographic works reflect the institutional and organisational demands placed on choreographers within this landscape as much as they reflect each choreographer’s personal narrative, formal enquiries, or experiments in embodied expression. I argue that during the period 1995 – 2005 there is an underlying tension between a critique of mainstream culture and the utilisation of its resources, institutions and technologies.
Keywordschoreography; Melbourne contemporary dance; BalletLab; danceworks; chunky move; Kage Physical Theatre; Lucy Guerin Inc.
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