November 9-11, 2015: Reflections from the International Applied Theatre Symposium: Performance of Hope, the University of Auckland

By Katie Chown

It was like going to a banquet of delight for the soul. The earnest and heartfelt welcome ceremony set the tune for three days of togetherness and sharing in the light of hope, experience and knowledge. We sang together, greeted one another and shared a meal before anything else.

I was out of my comfort zone at this conference(nervous body language), but that’s why I was there: to stretch, to learn, to meet people, to listen, and to speak. All of these things happened and more!

There was an abundance of workshops, performances and presentations which took me on journeys exploring the rich potential of what hope actually looks like in difficult times and places. This included theatre making in primary schools as well as prison work, empowering spoken word poetry, giving life to discarded objects, reclaiming ancestral heritage and protecting the land from harm.

We had opportunities to play and perceive the world like children do; with wonder, awe and curiosity. There was space to cry: to shed tears and feel the weight of real concerns for a time . . .  Not to absorb the burdens of the world or get lost there; just to feel and cry and let that be an acceptable, understandable response.

On the third day I spoke about my work in Myanmar and how dance practice led to Occupational Therapy engagement in an orphanage setting. I wasn’t too nervous – I felt very lucky indeed to have the opportunity to be there. Humbled by people’s responses and grateful for feedback, I attended the following sessions with a smile in my chest and an inner sense of achievement.

There was a closing ceremony where we sang together again and participants were invited to share anything they wished before we parted. Some people said a few words to express their experience and gratitude of the previous days, others sang, shared poems and some people danced, including myself. To be nourished and inspired so much and so deeply was a gift.


Katie NZ photo

Photography of New Zealand  by Katie Chown © 2015, reprinted with permission

October 16-18 World Dance Alliance-Asia Pacific Dance Bridge 2015

Connectivity Through Dance

By Lucinda Coleman

The small gathering hums in the haze and heat. Excited faces greet old friends and tentatively approach new ones. There are choices of scholarly papers to hear presented, new choreographies to respond to, performative presentations to attend, as well as dance workshops and performances to enjoy. I am in Singapore to share my own research, but am drawn to the story-telling of others. There are innovative research projects that challenge and inspire, but what I find fascinating is the beauty and diversity of the individuals, all creating dance work - or in pursuit of scholarly knowledge within the field of dance.

The Asia-Pacific Dance Bridge, held in Singapore 16-18 October 2015 aimed to foster dance connectivity within the Asia-Pacific region, inspiring a community of dance performers, academics, educators, administrators and other arts practitioners to connect one-to-the-other. The conference was organized by World Dance Alliance Singapore (WDAS), hosted by Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA) and run in conjunction with the annual da:ns festival presented by the Esplanade, Singapore. The conference events were presented in partnership with Singapore’s arts industry organisations including Esplanade Theatres on the Bay (Esplanade), Lasalle College of the Arts (Lasalle), Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA), National Library Board (NLB), and School of the Arts (SOTA).

Those of us who gathered had many choices to connect with practitioners in the field.  There were unique opportunities to foster cross-cultural partnerships that could only encourage creativity in the industry and hopefully forge new artistic partnerships to enrich contemporary dance exploration in the Asia-Pacific region in the future.

Photography of WDA delegates, venue and images of Singapore by Lucinda Coleman © 2015, reprinted with permission

July 26-31, 2015 World Dance Alliance - Americas* Conference, Honolulu, Hawaii

Spaces and Places: Exploring Dance Narratives through Alternative Lenses

By Lucinda Coleman

The World Dance Alliance (WDA)- Americas conference began with the invitation for all delegates to dance a hula, taught by the kumu hula (teacher) of a local Hawaiian hālau (dance group).  Hālau literally means ‘a branch from which many leaves grow’ and as I attempted to master the intricate movements of hand and foot, I felt a little like a leaf tossed in balmy winds, uncertain of direction and lacking in control. I was captivated by the story of our hula: something about a bird, the sea and the island. I was drawn into the sung dance, by the story-teller himself and the dancers whose gestural grace and humble beauty caused me to stumble in my own fumbling attempts at elegance. It was a good beginning. The small group of dance scholars and performers were predominantly American, yet also included those who had travelled from across the world to greet each other with aloha – a word meaning affection, kindness, compassion, mercy.

The keynote address began with a traditional Hawaiian greeting, a hula performance and a story. The speaker Peter Espiritu, Director of Oceania Dance Theatre asked us whether the Hawaiian chant had moved us? Did this hula in this particular space and place welcome us? Would it have felt different in a different context? He talked of dance as a spiritual expression for all, encouraging the fusion of traditional and contemporary forms, but warning that this fusion of indigenous dance with modern practices was “playing with a culture’s livelihood”. He invited us to get to know each other: to find out whom we are and where we are from.

As the week unfolded with scholarly and Pecha Kucha presentations, panel discussions, masterclasses and workshops, I watched for stories told through dance. I presented my own research and asked many questions of others. Performances were held in theatre and outdoor locations; diverse genres and cultural expressions of movement and music inviting audience engagement on multiple levels. I was both inspired and challenged about my own dance practice, my lineage, culture and history and how I approach the making of dance work in diverse spaces and places. How site-specific are my own remnant works?

Those I met who made me laugh out loud, who walked with me to and from the conference venue, and helped me understand why my own research is important have become precious companions on a journey about making dance stories. Individuals shared the findings of their practice; their ideas brimming in earnest conversations and finding shape and form during brave, vulnerable presentations. We were gently invited to encounter the person behind the dance, the idea, the narrative, the place. We were welcomed into a creative space for a time of shared story-telling; sometimes frustrating, sometimes inspiring, sometimes confusing, sometimes hilarious. As with all good stories, there were highlights and tensions throughout the conference experience. There were also those moments reminiscent of a Hawaiian sunset over Waikiki Beach, which have now become memories that remind me to tell stories full of colour, beauty, power, grace through dance making responsive to space and place, person and passion.

Photography of WDA delegates, venue and images of Hawaii by Lucinda Coleman © 2015, reprinted with permission.

* “World Dance Alliance - Americas (WDA-Americas) is an independent, non-profit, non-political, and non-religious member-driven organization. It is part of the larger World Dance Alliance including the Asia-Pacific Network and other global regions.” -  

July 2015 'WINERY PSALMS' . . . A BEGINNING . . .

Perth, WA: winery psalms development week...

Remnant artists and collaborators travelled to Perth from around the corner, an hour away, interstate, and internationally, to begin the development of winery psalms. Beginning with a 'Tapas & Tasting' night hosted by Remnant Dancemaker, Lucinda Coleman, artists gathered to taste wines; sparkling, reisling, chenin blanc, tempranillo, shiraz, & tawny port, matched with morsels of food. 

Following the gathering for all 22 collaborators to meet and mingle, and week long intensive of creative devising began. Dancers, musicians, choreographers and visual artists began to move, make, and listen to each other, and brainstorm ideas in response to text and to others. Devising will now continue over the next few months, evolving as artists continue to create, make and connect with each other and the artistic project. 

Remnant Musician, Julie Valenzuela, reflects on the week....

"Seeds.. creative and bursting with life. Many seeds of different varieties, nestled beside one another. One stirs, activating and inviting the others to respond. They resonate together. Gentle rain falls to awaken something in them; growth, potential. Their warm, earthy homes nurture, but at the same time challenge their freedom. It has started. They break through, reach out and up and into unfamiliar ground. They are young but bold, inspired as they regard each other. The sky is their only limit. I ponder... What will the forest look like? 
Who will sit in its shade?"


Photography by: Ellen Avery, Laura Biven, Lucinda Coleman, & Esther Scott


City of Pearls

Reflections from Hyderabad...

Lucinda Coleman reflects on her experience as a participant in the ‘Choreography and Corporeality’ Working Group at the International Federation of Theatre Research conference in Hyderabad INDIA, July 2015 - in images . . .


Images from Hyderabad, India by Lucinda Coleman, July 2015