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Let’s Get Critical

Conversation Series

Photo by Gregory Lorenzutti for Dancehouse
January 23, February 2 & 3 2019
23 Janurary 6pm
2—3 February 5pm

Free (bookings recommended)

Accessibility: Wheelchair access

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Three panel discussions with leaders from the queer performance communities to discuss and dissect queer culture and its intersections with the social, the political and the performative. These conversations, a regular feature in Dancehouse’s public programs, are presented here in a first-time partnership with Midsumma, Victoria’s premiere LGBTIQ+ festival. Structured in three parts, this series will reflect on the specificities and forces at play in Australian queer culture(s).

Wednesday 23 January, 6-7pm
Midsumma Festival Bar at The Coopers Malthouse
James Welsby, Phillip Adams, Maud Davey and Dennis Altmann in conversation with Angela Bailey

Considering the globalisation and commodification of queer culture, what are the local specificities? Which forms of queerness resist these forces and which choose to embrace them and why? With a focus on the queer histories of Melbourne and Sydney, this conversation unpacks the entanglement of various art forms and queerness since the ’60s.


Saturday 2 February, 5-6pm
Jinghua Qian, Isabella Whāwhai Waru and Nunzio Madden in conversation with Quinn Eades

As queer culture becomes more and more a global phenomena, for both queer and non-queer communities, what does being queer really mean? Is being queer simply what you are or what you do? This discussion will explore what might be lost or gained through such shifts in meaning and how queer histories inform queer futures wholistically.

Sunday 3 February, 5-6pm
Simona Castricum, Mama Alto and Xanthe Dobbie in conversation with Alison Bennett

What can the queer body really do? How can queer culture question and shift oppressive binary norms and power structures? How does it share its influences and invite others in? What are the intersections between queer culture and contemporary society and what tensions arise in relation to religion, class, gender, feminism and censorship?

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Angela Bailey is a curator and photographic artist whose practice is informed from the perspective of the community and the cultural. As a young activist participating in the fight for gay law reform in Queensland in the late 1980s to her work as Director of the Visual Arts for the Midsumma Festival in the late 1990s – all have contributed to her ongoing participation in promoting and interpreting our rich and diverse histories by creating exhibitions, installations, discourse and public programs of engagement. In 2014 Angela curated two exhibitions as part of the International AIDS 2014 Cultural Program in Melbourne and in 2017  curated WE ARE HERE at the State Library of Victoria, which presented contemporary artists exploring their queer cultural heritage and engaging with the collections of the Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives and State Library Victoria. She has a Postgraduate degree in Fine Arts, a Masters of Art Curatorship and is President of the Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives.
Dennis Altmann is the son of Jewish refugees, and a writer and academic who first came to attention with the publication of his book Homosexual: Oppression & Liberation in 1972. Since then Altman has written thirteen books, exploring sexuality, politics and their inter-relationship in Australia, the United States and now globally. These include The Homosexualization of America; AIDS and the New Puritanism; Rehearsals for Change; Gore Vidal’s America and Fifty First State?, as well as a novel (The Comfort of Men)and memoirs(Defying Gravity). His book, Global Sex (Chicago U.P, 2001), has been translated into five languages, including Spanish, Turkish and Japanese. Most recently has co-edited Why Human Security Matters [Allen & Unwin], Thinking Politically about HIV [Routledge] and How to Vote Progressive in Australia [Monash U.P.]. The End of the Homosexual? was published by UQP in 2013, and in 2016 Polity published Queer Wars [co-authored with Jonathan Symons]. Altman is Emeritus Professor and Professorial Fellow in the Institute for Human Security at LaTrobe University in Melbourne.
Phillip Adams‘ career in dance and performance spans over 25 years as a vital contributor to the richness of Australian performing arts. Adams’ works provide a crucial point of differentiation: an alternative modality, fearless choreographic practice and risk-taking approach to creation and presentation. Adams’ process draws on collaboration through hybrid mediums of music, design, fashion, architecture, cinema, visual arts and photography engaging with the unorthodox, queer and popular culture. Phillip’s process defines a model and a psychologically generative, collaborative environment that continually extends the parameters of dance and visual art-based practise to produce bold artistic choreography and artworks. Adams graduated from the Victorian College of the Arts in 1988 and thereafter spent a decade performing and working in New York with many companies and independent choreographers. Adams returned to Australia in 1997 and established his company Phillip Adams BalletLab. Adams has created 18 major works for BalletLab, presented internationally and at leading festivals and venues in the USA, Europe and Asia. Adams works have been presented by Museum of Old New Art, Heide Museum of Modern Art, MPavilion and the National Gallery of Victoria. In late 2016, Phillip Adams BalletLab assumed position as company in residence at South Melbourne’s historic Temperance Hall.  Phillip was awarded the Australia Council Award for Dance in 2018, and the company celebrates its 20th Anniversary in 2019.
Maude Davey trained as an actor at the Victorian College of the Arts (VCA) and has worked as an actor, director and writer ever since, with her primary focus being the creation of new work, particularly in the variety style. Her own neo-variety sci-fi behemoth, Retro Futurismus, has been playing in Melbourne at fortyfivedownstairs since 2015 and has been presented in Brisbane, Sydney, Darwin and Western Australia, earning 6 Green Room Award nominations. She has collaborated frequently with Finucane & Smith over the last two decades, on many projects including as a core member of The Burlesque Hour/Glory Box ensemble from 2004 – 2013. She ‘retired’ her Burlesque acts with her acclaimed autobiographical retrospective, My Life In the Nude (nominated for a Green Room Award: Best Actor), which has been presented in Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth and Hobart. She has appeared regularly on stage, TV and film and teaches Acting and Performance Making at VCA and La Trobe Universities.
James Welsby is a producer, choreographer and performer with a decade of professional experience in contemporary dance and queer performance. He graduated from the VCA School of Dance in 2007 and in 2008 founded Phantom Limbs (winner “Best Dance” Melbourne Fringe 2013 and “Melbourne Festival Discovery Award”). He has performed for numerous companies (Taylor Mac, Finucane and Smith, BRIEFS,) and independent choreographers (Martin Del Amo, Luke George, and Cadi McCarthy). James is the founder and artistic director of critically acclaimed cult cabaret YUMMY, which has been presented in multiple festivals and continues to tour internationally.


Quinn Eades is a Tracey Banivanua Mar Research Fellow and Lecturer in Interdisciplinary Studies in the Gender, Sexuality, and Diversity Studies program at La Trobe University. A writer, researcher, gutter philosopher and poet, his book Rallying was awarded the 2018 Mary Gilmore Award for best first book of poetry. Quinn is the author of all the beginnings: a queer autobiography of the body, and the co-editor of Going Postal: More than ‘Yes’ or ‘No’,and Offshoot: Contemporary Life Writing Methodologies and Practice. When he’s not working, Quinn is hanging with his kids, cuddling his pups, and watching reruns of The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt or drag makeup tutorials on youtube.

Nunzio Madden (previously known as Natasha Madden) is a Yugo-Australian artist working in Narrm. Since graduating from the VCA’s BFA Hons program in 2014, they have exhibited online, nationally and internationally, including the Akademie der Künste for the 2016 Berlin Biennale, The Physics Room curated by Fresh and Fruity, M.I/mi1glisse’ gallery, and QueerTech.io. They have also exhibited in parking lots, document folders, bathhouses, train stations, and empty houses.

Jinghua Qian is a Shanghainese writer living in the Kulin nations, fluent in prose, verse, and sharpening complexities without simplifying them. Whether on the page, stage, or airwaves, Jinghua interrogates the power of unbelonging: as a shapeshifter in a binary-gendered world, as an immigrant in a settler-colonial state, as the long answer to a short question. Ey has written about labour movement history for Right Now, performed dirges of diasporic grief in a seafarers’ church for Going Down Swinging, and made multilingual queer radio for 3CR. In Shanghai, as a reporter and later Head of News at English-language media outlet Sixth Tone from 2016 to 2018, Jinghua shaped the publication’s coverage of contemporary China. Eir work as a writer and editor was recognised by the Society of Publishers in Asia (SOPA) Awards in 2017 and 2018. Jinghua’s words have also appeared in The Guardian, Overland, Peril, Cordite, Autostraddle, and Melbourne Writers’ Festival.

Ko Tainui te Waka
Ko Tararua nga pai Maunga
Ko Ohau te Awa
Ko Ngāti Tukorehe te Marae
Ko Ngāti Tukorehe te iwi
Ko tenei pepeha o Ihapera Mason tōku kuia
Ko Aotea te Waka
Ko Taranaki te Maunga
Ko Waitotoroa te Awa
Ko Parihaka te Marae
Ko Niho te Wharenui
Ko Ngati Ruanui, Ngai Rauru, Taranaki, Ruahine, Titahi, Te Atiawa nga iwi
Ko tenei pepeha o Puohooho Mason tōku koro
Ko Te Haumoariki tōku matua
Ko Katia tōku whaea
Ko Ihapera Whāwhai Waru tōku ingoa

Isabella Whāwhai Waru is of Ngāti Tukorehe, Te Atiawa, Ngati Ruanui, Ngai Rauru, Taranaki, Ruahine, Titahi, Irish, Scottish, German, Welsh and English descent. They follow traditions of storytelling, navigation, nurture and resistance which preceed them thousands of years. A Narrm based artist, creating primarily through movement and voice, Waru performs, makes, writes, speaks and facilitates ritual spaces as mediums for ignition//resurgence//connection//activation//clearing//healing.


Dr Alison Bennett‘s artistic practice is situated in ‘expanded photography’ where the boundaries have shifted in the transition to digital media and become diffused into ubiquitous computing. Recent projects have tested the creative and discursive potentials of augmented reality, photogrammetry, 3D scanning, and virtual reality as encompassed by the medium and practice of photography.  As a neuroqueer new-media artist, their work has explored the performance and technology of gender identity and considered the convergence of biological and digital skin as virtual prosthesis. Their work has been featured on ABC TV Australian Story, the New York Times, Mashable, The Huffington Post, BuzzFeed, Motherboard, The Creators Project, KillScreen, ABC TV News, and The Guardian ‘best Australian photographs of 2015’. Dr Bennett works part-time as a lecturer in photography at RMIT University School of Art.

Simona Castricum is a musician and architecture academic from Melbourne. As an educator and PhD. candidate at the University of Melbourne, her work explores intersections of gender nonconformity and queerness in the architecture and public space. As a musician, Simona’s love of percussion and techno makes her one of Melbourne’s unique underground live performers and DJs, as well as a community radio broadcaster on PBS FM. Simona is active in gender diverse advocacy through her work as a freelance writer for The Guardian, a member of Music Victoria’s Women’s Advisory Panel and the Victoria Pride Centre’s Community Reference Group.

Mama Alto is a jazz singer, cabaret artiste, gender transcendent diva & community activist. She is a transgender person of colour who works with the radical potential of storytelling, strength in softness and power in vulnerability. Fierce, femme and fabulous, she has been called “divine” (Havana Tribune) and “near flawless” (The Age). Performances include Adelaide Cabaret Fringe, Adelaide Fringe, The Butterfly Club, Festival of Voices (Hobart), Hares & Hyenas, Marysville Jazz & Blues, Melbourne Cabaret Festival, Melbourne Fringe, Melbourne Recital Centre, Midsumma, Stonnington Jazz, Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras, Wonderland (Brisbane) and more. With Finucane & Smith, she has toured to Adelaide Cabaret Festival, Darwin Festival, Desert Harmony Festival (Tennant Creek), and Havana International Theatre Festival (Cuba). In 2017, she performed in Declan Greene’s “The Homosexuals” (Malthouse Theatre & Griffin Theatre Company), featured in Taylor Mac’s “24 Decade History of Popular Music” at Melbourne Festival, and awarded Artist of the Year (2017 GLOBE LGBTI Awards).

Xanthe Dobbie is a Melbourne and Sydney-based new media artist. Working across on- and offline modes of making, Dobbie’s practice aims to capture the experience of contemporaneity as reflected through queer and feminist ideologies. Drawing on humour, pop, sex, history and iconography, Dobbie develops shrines to a post-truth era. Holding a BA (Honours) in Fine Art from RMIT, she has exhibited work locally and internationally in festivals, prizes and galleries and delivered numerous presentations at major institutions including ACMI and MCA. A longstanding member of the BLINDSIDE ARI Board of Artistic Directors and the QueerTech.io Collective, Dobbie is currently completing a Masters of Arts Screen (Editing) at AFTRS and developing new screen-based and interactive works.

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