Winter, 2018

Another country. You.
Your skin the bright, sharp line
that I must travel to.               

Battle-line by Imtiaz Dharker (1989)

Gatherings often consist of checkpoints. In a conference setting, the first task is the official identification and registration of delegates on arrival. Border places loom as travellers assemble to listen and respond to a presenter: an inspection of sorts a whimsical checkpoint. Meetings within Meetings generate itemised lists for notation and confirmation by those who have clustered together. There are comparisons with Others as individuals meet, mingle, share, consider, exchange, ponder, and  . . .

Recently, I participated in the gathering, Panpapanpalya: the second Joint Congress of daCi (dance and the Child international) and WDA (World Dance Alliance) Global Education and Training Network. Over 800 delegates convened in the beautiful city of Adelaide, in wintery South Australia, July 8th-13th, 2018. Sensitivity to checkpoints was evidenced in an extensive program which included scholarly papers, twin labs, workshops, lecture demonstrations, dance performances and creative collaborative gatherings. I was excited simply to attend, present a scholarly paper, reconnect with colleagues, make new contacts, and . . .

My conference experience began just before the Panpapanpalya Opening as I met with other researchers during the ECR (Early Career Researchers) Community-Dance Day. I plunged into extraordinary stories from across the world in moments of one-to-one, face-to-face encounters and experienced slippage at the research checkpoint. More than the stuff of academia, I was captivated by the flash of a smile, the curious gaze, a tilted head and expressive gesture. I determined that my checkpoints for this conference gathering would be that of skin which danced the stories of experiences in realms far from my own. I sought out the thoughts swinging behind lanyards; the ideas brimming in the sub-text of presentations. I said YES when invited for a glass of Barossa red with exceptional researchers, who are simply exceptional people. I said YES to dancers performing, to answering questions, to sharing a coffee, to making new friends, and . . .

I was reminded why I attend conference gatherings: for the serendipitous checkpoints. In the unexpected conversations, I unearthed other worlds. In dropping into seminars, sliding into theatre seats, holding my breath during street performances, I noted the bright sharp lines that beckoned I travel further in, towards, and . . . 



Photographs of Early Career Researchers Community-Dance, ECR Day at Panpapanpalya Joint Dance Congress by Sarah Knox, 2018, reprinted with permission. #danceECR


Reference: Dharker, I. (1989). Purdah. Delhi, India: Oxford University Press.