School of Performing Arts - Theses
Now showing items 1-12 of 32
Mind the gap: Jo Ha Kyu [Ma] and the missing teeth: evolutionary practice based on a somatic embodied unfolding of productions, pedagogy and personal events
In this personal case study, I offer an emergent embodied practice derived from a distinct fusion of Asian theatre practices (Chinese-Japanese) and Australian training. Using the principles of Jo Ha Kyu [Ma], I construct and apply an interpretive-analytical framework to describe and map out the interrelated evolutions of productions, pedagogy, and personal events. Eschewing a curatorial narrative, I instead engage experientially in this autobiographical retrospection purposely immersing myself in a construction of five memory rooms, generating ongoing pedagogy, and exploring an embodied research methodology for a performing arts-based Higher Doctorate.
Cueca, tradition and innovation: utilising the traditional Bolivian music form of Cueca as a generative tool in jazz based composition and improvisation
The Cueca is an expression of Latin American culture in the forms of dance, poetry and music. This investigation examines the important elements of the Bolivian Cueca, its history, development and geographical journey alongside a creative element of practice-based research arising from an analysis of my first professional recordings of Cueca that explore African-American jazz-based improvisation leading to new compositions. For this purpose, I will undertake an ethnographic and musical analysis of the Bolivian Cueca (structure, rhythm, harmony, melody and improvisation) from the first pioneers and influential composers and interpreters Simeón Roncal (pianist, 1870-1953) and José Lavadenz (mandolinist, 1883-1967). This includes an autethnographic reflection of my relationship with my cultural identity as a composer, performer and son of the Bolivian composer Gilberto Rojas (1916-1983). My intention is to ground the rationale that integrates my later study of jazz-based improvisational studies within the Cueca tradition. I have included a phenomenological contextual analysis of my 2005 recording of “Chuquisaqueñita” in the CD/DVD “Lunar” and findings from my practice-led research which enabled my understanding of the hitherto unconscious elements that I had adopted from the aforementioned composers to then create and spontaneously engage jazz and improvisation techniques within the Cueca. My creative work includes Cuecas that I composed throughout this study, which was inspired by my personal understanding as a Bolivian currently living within a multicultural context in Melbourne, Australia, highlighting the development process of Australian jazz sensibilities alongside the cross cultural notions of agency we encounter as musicians within globalised jazz.
Contemporary Australian Gothic theatre sound
This practice-based research analyses the significance of sonic dramaturgies in the development and proliferation of contemporary Australian Gothic theatre. Taking an acoustemological approach, I consider the dramaturgical role of sound and argue that it is imperative to the construction and understanding of contemporary Gothic theatre and that academic criticism is emergent in its understanding. By analysing companies and practitioners of contemporary Australian Gothic theatre, I identify and articulate their innovative contributions towards what has been called “the Sonic Turn”. My case studies include Black Lung Theatre and Whaling Firm and practitioner Tamara Saulwick. I argue that the state of Victoria has a particular place in the development of contemporary Gothic theatre and highlight the importance of the influences of Gothic Rock, rock band aesthetics, Nick Cave, and the Gothic myths and legends and specific landscapes of Victoria. I identify dramaturgical languages that describe the function of sound in the work of these practitioners and the crucial emergence of sound as a dominant affective device and its use in representing imagined landscapes of post-colonial Australia. I also analyse sound in relation to concepts of horror and trauma. I position my practice and my work as co-artistic director of the Suitcase Royale within the Sonic Turn and in relation to other Gothic theatre companies and practitioners. Drawing on theories of spectrality and presence, I formulate a theoretical language of the Sonic Gothic as it relates to contemporary Australian theatre. I contend that contemporary Australian Gothic theatre is culturally unique in its preoccupation with sound and that sonic experiments in the Gothic are creating new understandings of the use of sound in theatre. My creative work, a soundscape for theatre entitled Disappearing into Darkness, is submitted as a high-quality Mp3 file accompanying the written dissertation. It was created as an alternative text and will be used as the foundational material for the development of a new work of Australian Gothic dance theatre.
Choreographing time: temporality in choreography from the perspective of a solo improviser
Choreographing Time is a practice-led research project exploring how the temporality of improvisational material can be articulated to affect the attention of the audience. The research investigates how the intersubjectivity between performer and audience affects the regulation of time in solo improvisation and contributes to the performance making process. Focusing on developing the performer’s capacity for attention, the two main areas of research underpinning this investigation are Noh theatre and BodyMind Centering® (BMC), a form of somatic practice. In addition, this research combines practical investigation with the theory of ‘self-other’ in neurophysiology and the phenomenological study of perceptual experience to inform the consideration of temporality in the performance of solo improvisation. The methodology includes practices drawn from Noh Theatre, in particular, the application of the temporal concept of jo-ha-kyū in improvisation, movement exploration derived from BMC, together with methods for critical experimentation and analysis of choreographic strategies including reflective writing, reportage and audience interviews. The theoretical and studio research resulted in the presentation of the new solo work "17 Square Brackets" with its improvisational score speculating on the conditions of the body to generate performative material. This research proposes further investigation that will seek to integrate fields of knowledge within Western and Eastern disciplines to impart new ways of approaching improvised performance making. This is aimed to enable a coherent experience, which is mutually shared between the performer and audience.
Bodies of influence: contemporary dance in Melbourne 1995 – 2005
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.
The embodied imagination: choreographic practice and dancing our way into being
‘The Embodied Imagination: choreographic practice and dancing our way into being’ is a practice led research project completed between 2013 – 2016 at the Victorian College of the Arts. The thesis comprises a performance outcome and a dissertation. This dissertation examines the scope of the imagination and looks at the way we imagine which includes image making but is not exclusive to the realm of mental images. The premise is that the imagination is a vital synthesizing force that animates the world and which can be appropriated in choreographic practice. A wider definition is proposed that attempts to capture the totality of the imaginary as a continuously emerging potential. I will build towards a discussion on the interplay between the real and the imaginary and develop the idea that through performance we open the possibility of perceiving and imagining in new ways. Through this we create the possibility for tiny shifts in how we can be in the world.
Reframing tradition: renegotiating flamenco dance within contemporary contexts
‘Reframing Tradition: Renegotiating Flamenco Dance within Contemporary Contexts’, is a practice-led inquiry undertaken between 2014 – 2016 at the Victorian College of the Arts as a Master of Fine Arts (Dance) by research. There are two parts of the research: a creative performance work and a dissertation. ‘Fragmentos’ (58 min) was performed to a live audience from 9Th – 12Th December 2015 at the Grant Street Theatre, Southbank. A documented record of this event is complementary to this written dissertation. This practice-led research explores first hand the underlying qualities and values within a traditional embodied form and their presence and transformation in contemporary performance settings. Such a process references my individual perspective gained through my experience of dancing flamenco, together with the understanding I have acquired of the theoretical, ideological and historical values embedded in the dance aspect of the form. Alongside this I explore other multidisciplinary approaches to making work that includes foregrounding somatic practice and dramaturgical awareness. By setting up a middle ground where the potential of the transformative process of traditional form to contemporary adaption meet, the creative aspect explores the reflexive relationship and uncovers the latent and the unfulfilled potential of both. The written outcome reviews the convergence of these practices through the practitioner (self), and evaluates the potential of meaning that transpires from it. Coincidently this research has intersected with the impact of my father’s state of decline, diagnosed with the crippling disease of dementia that has ironically energised the essence of these investigations.
Hurdy-gurdy: new articulations
The purpose of this thesis is to expand existing literature concerning the hurdy-gurdy as a contemporary musical instrument. Notably, it addresses the lack of hurdy-gurdy literature in the context of contemporary composition and performance. Research into this subject has been triggered by the author’s experience as a hurdy-gurdy performer and composer and the importance of investigating and documenting the hurdy-gurdy as an instrument capable of performing well outside the idioms of traditional music. This thesis consists of a collection of new works for hurdy-gurdy and investigation of existing literature including reference to the author’s personal experience as a hurdy-gurdy composer and performer. It will catalogue and systematically document a selection of hurdy-gurdy techniques and extended performance techniques, and demonstrate these within the practical context of new music compositions created by the author. This creative work and technique investigation and documentation is a valuable resource for those seeking deeper practical and academic understanding of the hurdy-gurdy within the context of contemporary music making.
An unfinished mindful body meets live choreographies of solo dance
My practice-led research that utilises live solo performances of improvised contemporary dance, explores the notion that the body can be considered as unfinished, unresolved. My research shows that such conceptualisations foster productive links between dance and bodily specificity. Furthermore, how somatic attentiveness, a key element in my praxis, links to values such as human development, and social responsibility, is also explored by this dissertation. These explorations consider the socio-political agency of my work with live performance. This dissertation shows how awareness of bodily specificity clarifies understandings of personal and social response-ability. The consistent application of somatic attentiveness throughout my praxis has provided a sense of continuity between experiences of movement associated with personal, political, cultural, social, and academic actions. A theme returned to repeatedly throughout my thesis is that the personal, the social, the cultural, the political, and the academic are enmeshed. No one precedes the other. Phenomenology as a philosophical approach positions lived experience, and the body, centrally. My research has been significantly supported and furthered through exposure to materials from this field. The work of philosophers such as Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Maxine Sheets-Johnstone, Philipa Rothfield, Elizabeth Behnke and others in response to Husserlian Phenomenology has informed my work. Perspectives which have guided my inquiries have also come from autoethnography, dance theory and performance theory, through the work of theorists and philosophers including Carolyn Ellis, Bojana Cvejić, Danielle Goldman, Susan Leigh Foster and Ann Cooper Albright.
Performer as medium: connecting past and present in improvisation
‘Performer as Medium: Connecting Past and Present in Improvisation’, is a practice-led research project undertaken between 2013-2016 at the Victorian College of the Arts as a Master of Fine Arts (Dance) by research. There are two components of the research: a performance outcome and an exegesis. ‘Moths are Calling’ (38min) was performed and documented in July 2014, and is available for perusal via video format. It is accompanied by this exegesis of 20,000 words. This practice-led inquiry explores performer as medium, and more broadly, performance as a practice connecting past already lived experience, and the present. It is centred in the experience of my solo performance practice that is philosophically concerned with the ontology of the everyday and the ordinary. The inquiry adopts an experiential approach in which the creative and performance practice is sustained, while strategically adopting phenomenological, autobiographic, and ethnographic stances to interrupt, problematize and inform the creative work. This bricolleur approach to methods has a characteristically emergent implication, allowing for unfolding, a degree of plasticity and adaption that is further and continuously informed by an on-going survey of relevant practitioners and literature.
Microsound, spectra, and objectivity: tracing memetics in organised sound
This dissertation proposes a novel memetic framework and creative methodology to probe the mechanism underpinning the transmission of a composer’s intention to an audience, contending that cultural replicators – memes – drive our understanding of a composer’s intention. It is hypothesized that memes catalyse the creation of artefacts which, in turn, act as instigators for memetic replication in brains. Additionally, it is hypothesized that microsound – sound at the edge of perception – may play a key role as memetic instigator. Thinking about these hypotheses and how they might be interrogated through works of organized sound (music, sonic art), yields creative deployment of microsound in primarily scored works. This creative process allows the researcher to arrive at a deeper understanding of memetics and to formalize the conceptual memetic framework and hypotheses described herein. In this way, theory and practice become interlocked in the search for evidence of memes in the creation of works of organized sound, and the role memes play in an audience’s ability to (re)construct the intention of a composer. The scope of this methodology facilitated the creation of a large quantity of creative works throughout candidature, of which four notated/semi-notated musical compositions and one piece of software (made in MaxMSP) are included in the final thesis, with the other related works are included in the appendices and accompanying media. Mozart Variations is an open, graphical score for any number of musicians that assisted in formalising the small- meme stance; silver as a catalyst in organic reactions takes the meme as a metaphor, using existing data structures (a silver atom bonded with a carbon atom) as the source to be ‘read’, akin to genetic replication, and is for solo baroque violin; End to Reattain for violin and electronics is a structured improvisation that plays with microsound and its perceptual bases; It needs a big ‘ow’ sound; ow-nd... ground! for solo low woodwind attempts to trace the lineages of microsound (and by implication, memes) across multiple iterations of music, by ‘tracing’ composer Evan Johnson’s Ground and creating a variation piece that retains key structural information but is otherwise thoroughly transformed, and; Spectral Domain Microsound Amplification Software (SDMAS) is a software prototype to amplify those sounds in a frequency spectrum that are generally inaudible, and was deployed in pieces that are listed in the appendices. All works include a score and recording, or the software, as appropriate.
Writing and dancing the body: from contradiction to complementarity
Mine is an experiential account of writing’s relationship to dance and dancing. I locate some of the relationships between dance writer, the act of dancing and dance performance by displacing the writer into the space usually occupied by the dancer and maker thereby creating ‘episodes of exposure’. Hence I am investigating the complements and antagonisms inherent between these two languages and attempting to locate some of their interstices. I also consider how my participation in the one informs my production of the other. My methodologies include creating parallel written and danced texts, which read together, serve to reveal many of the dispositions underlying my writing on dance. I also directly dance elements of my own text and attempt to physically inhabit the words I have written. Finally, in a dance installation, I seek to synthesise and resolve elements of research and practice, combining live text and movement with video documentation of practice. Conceptually, I refer to the acts of both writing about dance and dancing itself as potentially dialogic in nature; possessing a multiplicity of ‘voices’ that may intersect or clash but which finally explicate one another. For this I look to Mikhail Bakhtin and others. I further argue that the fixity of language and the evaluative nature of some dance writing can be released via a sensing through movement.