Broadly speaking there are two contexts for dance – one is the art of choreographed human movement performed for an audience, and the other a social form where the main game is participation. Both have practitioners at every point on the proficiency spectrum.
Believing that finding the nexus between them would increase engagement in them both, by 2009 we had embarked on an exploration of dance which, between then and now, has invigorated love of aesthetic movement in its many forms across our regions.
Often a shared activity and often inextricably linked to a complex cultural structure, it is a medium that can ignite interest at a visceral level, where people feel they belong. Dance N Action (D’n’A) began by instigating exchanges between dance professionals, both within and outside the regions, bringing practitioners of diverse dance genres together into shared celebrations, rolling out a multi-layered workshop program, exploring pathways for emerging talent and drawing young people into dance through forms that are an inherent part of their culture, like hip hop.
By 2015, Guerrilla-style interventions became the modus operandi of DanceXtend, engaging all-comers in conversations with practitioners about the expansive palette of movement that is contemporary dance, exploration of the moves and acceptance of the notion that each person’s interpretation of contemporary dance is no less valid for being different from someone else’s.
Partly the ‘mere-exposure effect’, but mainly a deeper, multi-layered engagement, the sum of these parts has cultivated a more complex understanding of dance where contemporary dance is a much less challenging staged art for many more people to witness, and an environment where richly layered collaborations lead to new dance works for film and stage.
Written and researched by Jo Pike for Country Arts SA