Welcome to Dancehouse,

Dancehouse is Australia's premier centre for independent dance. We are a site for developing challenging, invigorating and socially engaged moving art. Our role is threefold: to advance independent dance artists, to build dance audiences, and to develop the art form itself. Our programs generate a kaleidoscope of opportunities and sit at a confluence of circulations: of makers, ideas, spaces, contexts, publics, disciplines and territories.





What does independent dance mean to you?

Recently, we wanted to do this little video thing (see above) about Dancehouse, about what it is. It ended up being about what it does.  And what it does is support independent dance. Inevitably, we started by asking this question: what might it mean to be an independent dance artist today?

How does one become independent? By choice or by fact? In this age of hyper-connectivity, what is it that an artist is independent of? If independence were to be about financial autonomy, then how much autonomy is possible, when artists cannot realistically or sustainably operate outside funding, fundraising or self-supported systems? What agency is available when art as practice is rarely acknowledged as a viable agent of change or value?

Also, what is independence in/of the body when our bodies are so inscribed with what has been and what is, all of which is inherently in the muscles and surreptitiously in the mind, both constantly colonised and cannibalised, by history, capitalism, alternative facts, fake news and other brave new trumping agents?

Obviously, independence in performance-making and in general cannot be defined with academic rigour; rather it is a nimble beast always unleashed within a milieu, at once economic, social, political, cultural as well as kinaesthetic.

Let us not forget then, that corporeality is always politicised. What if independence were an act of resistance against modes of commodification and appropriation of labour, a space to defeat the death of the author and defy the rise of the market; the choice of remaining an artist and not becoming a marketeer; the freedom to challenge the kingdoms of curators, of producers, of entertainers; the site to be an active participator because who is the spectator today anyway? Understanding privilege is another story we will talk about some other time.

What if independence were less about surfing on systems of power and more about apprehending the institution as an organ-isation, a living organ with its flows and flaws, and seek its heart rather than attack its brain?

What if independence is thinking dance still has a meaning, for those who dance it and those who see it, even if meaning has migrated from the body to author to spectacle to mass forms of entertainment and needs to be re-located back IN the body not ON the body. Because dance is the best way of bodying our worlds, it is about doing and in doing it, is becoming and so it holds the past, the now and the next, and let us not be fooled, there is a lot of inter-dependence going on there. Independence may not imply individualism.

What if independence is really about focusing on dance as a force, on what it does or can do to the world, to take this as a responsibility of activating those forces of bodily becoming that can awaken our atrophied sense of sensitivity. What makes us not care is what we have perhaps lost in imagination, politics, ethics, being together.

Perhaps, supporting independent dance today is to offer the site, the space, the time and the resources to scrutinise and digest, to critique and to conquer, to re-shape and to re-define all these facets of what independent dance making is, here and now. We hope to be a place and time today that connects and enables those communities of artists and thinkers to generate new forms of agency, to re-activate urgency, rekindle imagination, to remake forms of sociality.

If independence is to be all this, our endeavours lie beyond who we are today.

-- Angela Conquet & Dancehouse