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September—November, 2020

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Dancehouse and Arts House, with support from Creative Victoria, have appointed four independent arts practitioners — Mariaa Randall, Luke George, Priya Srinivasan and Tam Nguyen — to lead a community co-design, to explore the potential of a dedicated contemporary dance festival in Melbourne.

The Co-Design team will be leading the sector consultation between September and November 2020.

From the Co-Design Team

In order to understand the current state of dance and what the term “contemporary dance” might mean in Melbourne, we have used a decolonising methodology to guide this artist led dialogue with the sector.

What now? What next? What do we all want next?

Our creative process aims to rethink existing structures by employing an intersectional and dialogic framework to address race, gender, age, sexuality, access and class.

We will be listening in three ways to hear your input:

  1. An online survey
    Open until 31 October.
  2. Focus groups
    Intentionally targeted to bring together diverse voices drawn from our lived experience.
    Nine conversations which includes four intersectional conversations and five conversations for participants who might share commonality in their practice or cultural background. Perspectives invited to take part will include: First Nations artists, culturally diverse artists, independent artists, artists with disability, gender diverse artists, teachers, presenters, street and club artists.
  3. Individual consultation
    Deep listening of elders and pioneers from the selected categories above.
    Each consultant will work individually and collectively to record their findings which will be submitted to Dancehouse and Arts House early November, 2020.

We invite you to have your say by answering the online survey which will be distributed end of September and close 31 October. The Victorian dance sector is extensive.  We don’t presume to know everyone.  Please help us by sharing the survey to your networks and community. The more people we reach the better we can help represent the diverse voices of our dance communities. If you have not received the survey or need a link, please email us.

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Mariaa Randall is a Gidabul, Gulibul and Yaegl dance maker from the Far North Coast of New South Wales (NSW). She is a NAISDA Dance College graduate and more recently a Victorian College of the Arts (VCA) graduate obtaining a Graduate Certificate in Indigenous Arts Management, a Graduate Diploma in Performance Creation and a Masters in Animateuring (by Research). In 2019, Mariaa premiered Same But Different at Dance Massive, presented Footwork/Technique at the Performance Space New York City, performed Painting the Dance at the inaugural Matriarchs Uprising Festival in Vancouver, and has been working with Sinsa Mansell on her new work BlACK in Hobart. She continues to create works that empower Indigenous women which include Divercity that premiered at Dance Massive 2017, HA LF her solo work, and Poetry in Motion created in collaboration with 2nd-year dance students at the VCA. Her most memorable achievements have been choreographing Jacob Boehme’s Blood on the Dance Floor and producing YAPENYA, a new Dja Dja Wurrung ceremony based on old stories. At present, Mariaa is developing her new work, SiStem. SiStem amplifies the Indigenous female warrior, the way in which Randall sees First Nations women. The work aims to showcase their strength, resilience and unwavering presence in the face of adversity.

Luke George creates new choreographic and visual work that engages daring and at times, unorthodox methods to explore new intimacies and connections between artist and audience. He sees dance less as spectacle than as reflexive practice, in which people examine themselves and their values through movement and interaction. He is concerned with relational politics, examining the dynamics of intimacy and collectivity to create ‘safe spaces’ that allow for care as well as risk. Born in lutruwita-Tasmania and based in Naarm-Melbourne, Luke creates and performs work through experimental processes with collaborating artists and the public across Australia, Asia, Europe and North America. Whether as a performer or spectator, performance for Luke takes place in active-reflective space where we witness not only our own way of being, but also that of others, to truly consider someone other than ourselves, and how we coexist. Luke’s sensitivity towards the positions of alterity is informed by queer politics. His artistic practice takes an intersectional approach, whereby people are neither singular nor isolated; bodies of difference can intersect, practice mutual listening, take responsibility for themselves and one another. A highly awarded and commissioned artist, in 2019 Luke received an Australia Council for the Arts Fellowship and his works ‘Bunny’ and ‘Still Lives’ (co-creations with Daniel Kok) were presented in the Venice Biennale and ‘Public Actions’ premiered at Arts House for Dance Massive. In 2020 Luke was appointed Artistic Associate of Temperance Hall.

Dr. Priya Srinivasan is the co-Artistic Director of Sangam: Performing Arts Festival of South Asia and Diaspora which enables a single platform for classical, contemporary and experimental forms. Priya is also the Co-Director of the South Asian Arts Pathways Program commissioned by Bunjil Place and Drum Theatre. She is a choreographer and writer who lives and works in the lands of the Wurundjeri and Boonwurrung people in Narrm, combining theory and practice to work towards social justice issues through art. Priya’s performances prioritise feminist decolonisation processes, making visible minority women’s voices, bodies and histories. Her experimental postcolonial work rooted in South Asian classical dance practice has been presented in major festivals and venues such as universities, museums, galleries, and theatres internationally in the USA, Europe, China, India and Australia. Her intercultural feminist collaborative work with First Nations artists, Churning Waters toured India for Australia Fest. She has curated and choreographed several projects in partnership with Hermitage Museum Amsterdam, Berlin Wall Memorial, Rockbund Art Museum Shanghai, Highways Theatre Los Angeles, Spaces Chennai, Shoonya Bangalore, DCA Darwin, Creative Victoria, MAV, Bunjl Place and Dancehouse. Currently she is developing a full length violence against women work “S3” with a women’s choir, juxtaposing a 3rd century poem about a multi armed weapon wielding warrior goddess with contemporary police reports about the rape and murder of women in the 21st century. In her dual career as artist/scholar Priya has a PhD in Performance Studies from Northwestern University, was an Associate Professor at the University Of California Riverside in Critical Dance Studies, and her award winning book “Sweating Saris: Indian Dance as Transnational Labour” is read and taught widely across the globe as a seminal work for dance studies.

Tam Nguyen has over twenty years of experience in large-scale festival management, documentary film, and the performing arts sectors in the UK, US and Australia. Most recently, she was Creative Producer of the Asia Pacific Triennial of Performing Arts (Asia TOPA). Prior to living in Melbourne, Tam was Festival Producer of the UK’s largest documentary festival and industry conference Doc/Fest; produced feature documentaries for international theatrical and television release for Academy Award nominated documentary film company Chain Camera Pictures (Los Angeles); was Producer for Pace Pictures on the Australia Week Festival (Los Angeles, New York) a joint initiative of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Austrade, Qantas and Tourism Australia. In Melbourne, Tam has been Executive Producer of the Australian Art Orchestra, Executive Producer of the late night programming for MONA FOMA, Producer of the 98th International Society for the Performing Arts (ISPA) World Congress. Tam has held programming roles with the Australian International Documentary Conference, Adelaide Festival of Arts, and the Department of Premier and Cabinet’s Thinkers in Residence program.

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