Creative collaborations celebrated in end of semester performance

01 June 2016

In a great example of the cross-disciplinary nature of the creative sector, this weekend sees students from three schools across the faculty combine to present the end of semester show for Dance Studies postgraduate students. Through the encouragement of lecturer, Associate Professor Carol Brown, students in her Choreography and Performance Research course were able to engage with others from the School of Music and School of Architecture and Planning. These connections were made at the beginning of the semester, and the resulting works created over the past twelve weeks will be on show this weekend at Hyphen // HyperSpace.

Carol saw the opportunity for her students to interact with other disciplines as critical to their development. "As a practicing choreographer I know how vitally important opportunities to meet, engage, test and co-create with other artists and forms of practice are," she says. "As the architect Daniel Libeskind has stated, it is through a metamorphosis of our practices that we grow as creative agents.  And yet, these opportunities are demanding and often all too rare. This semester, choreography students have been testing new situations for dance in the expanded environment of digitally augmented spaces, and in a return to the practice of attunement through live co-presence of musician and dancer embodying scores written for dance."

The double bill show features a series of duets for solo dancers and live musicians (Hyphens) and the first public showing HyperSpace, an immersive, interactive dance-architecture experience. Each Dance Studies student, as part of the end of semester portfolio of work, will be assessed on at least one work within the show. "The creative arts are inherently collaborative, with each discipline benefitting through the inclusion of another form," says Kendall Jones, one of the choreographers and performers. "Through this project I have explored the relationships between dance and other disciplines, and this has enhanced my practice tremendously. It has been interesting learning about another creative form, and a pleasure to find out what happens within our faculty - and make new friends!"

Master of Architecture students Yinan Liu and Ying Miao met with Carol's choreographers to see how dancers add to their thesis work, Hyperspace 2.0. The project is part of the arc/sec lab for Digital Spatial Operations within the School of Architecture and Planning. "We explore reactive architecture, in relation to the human body, its movement and interaction," says Yinan. "Working with Dance Studies was the ideal opportunity to test our installation, pushing the limits of our technical and programming set up." Yinan and Ying will be present at the show to set up and run the technology behind the system during the performance.

Associate Professor Uwe Rieger says the skills developed at the arc/sec lab and within this project will be essential for future architects. "There are three key principles we need to be instilling in our students: working in an interdisciplinary environment, collective learning and being outcome focussed. Future innovations will be developed between the disciplines. We're using digital spatial technologies to create new connections between the known, linking together the creative sector, science, engineering, the humanistic and social disciplines."

Associate Professor Eve de Castro-Robinson's composition classes were also involved in the project, working through tasks with choreographers to create a piece for a solo dancer and solo musician. "This has been a rich learning experience for composition students, in terms of cooperating, and working creatively with practitioners outside their own discipline," says Eve. "Collaboration is an extremely useful and necessary part of their creative practice and has helped prepare them for the exigencies of professional work." Some student pairs worked collaboratively throughout the entire process, while others came together towards the end to fuse their concepts. Each piece will have a musician live on show night accompanying the dance work.

Whilst speaking about the experience of her composition students, Eve perhaps sums up the professional development benefits of this project for students from all disciplines. "From the tentative early discussions, workshops, personal communication, time management and the most challenging aspect – compromise - the students have developed skills that will stand them in good stead throughout their careers. Most importantly, the window into multidisciplinary work has opened up new pathways for them as creative artists."

Carol reinforces this, reflecting on the learnings of her students over the projects. "Developing original choreographic works through these collaborative conversations and environments, the students have explored the expanded potentials of dance as it meets and interfaces with other art forms and artists, laying the foundations for future creative blueprints for action in the world."

An open public showing of works by choreographers and composers will be shown in the School of Music theatre 4 - 5.30pm, Friday 3 June. Saturday's performance of Hyphen // HyperSpace is a sell out.