Dance Studies thrives at research exposition

13 October 2016
Exposure 2016 winners
Chanwyn Southgate (second from left), Kerryanne Mayhew (third from left) and Associate Professor Nicholas Rowe (far right).

The University of Auckland's annual postgraduate research exposition, Exposure, had a strong Dance Studies flavour last week. Alongside Associate Professor Nicholas Rowe acting as MC, two postgraduate students placed in the Variety Showcase competition, continuing a strong history for the department in the event.

Chanwyn Southgate and Kerryanne Mayhew placed second and third respectively in the variety category, which allows creative research to be represented in every imaginable form – artworks, media presentations, performances and sound, among others. Both students had to summarise and present their research in a 15 minute slot in front of fellow researchers in the audience, condensing a year's worth of reading, choreography and study into a short, accessible presentation.

Chanwyn, a Postgraduate Diploma in Dance Studies student, used a variety of mediums to portray her research. "My research question is 'How do we use archives to create newness?' using those archives to discover ourselves through the beauty and ability dance has as an art," she says. "I created a poem inspired by my dance archives; I spoke about my research and incorporated video footage of my rehearsal progress; and engaged the audience in an 'eyes-closed' task to gain further understanding," she explains. While describing putting her personal research in front of others as daunting, Chanwyn says the positive response she received has following the event has buoyed her. "I was definitely outside of my comfort zone, but so many people gave great feedback and insisted I continue my studies!"

With her Bachelor of Dance Studies (Honours) dissertation in progress, Kerryanne presented a short film which outlined her research into relationships between screen-based technology and the moving body. "I'm looking into what those relationships may mean for our future society," Kerryanne says. “The film displayed a narrative concept shared within my choreography, which is being developed alongside my writing. My dancers are set as characters within a technological future, using screens as a life source, as the 'higher' society. I see that film as kind of a prologue to my final choreographic work." Kerryanne's dancers joined her on stage to interact with the audience while she answered questions about her research, adding to the interactive element of the Variety Showcase category.

The students found a comfort in a familiar face on the night. In his role as Associate Dean (Postgraduate Engagement) for the Faculty of Creative Arts and Industries, Nicholas performed Master of Ceremony duties. "Exposure provides a great opportunity to ventilate the student research that is being done in discrete corners of the University," he says of the event. "Through sharing and contesting their ideas, our research students gain insights into how cross-disciplinary discussions may enhance and extend the significance of their research. An annual event that is managed, coordinated and presented by research students, it also evidences the dynamic, entrepreneurial culture that our postgraduate programmes seek to facilitate. All who participated in this year's Exposure are to be commended for their energy, creativity and excellence."

Both Chanwyn and Kerryanne are proud to have represented the Dance Studies department in front of a wider university audience. "It was opportunity to showcase what Dance Studies has to offer within the research community," Chanwyn says. As for future activities, Chanwyn hopes to become a dance teacher to further explore what motivates students to dance. "I'd love to inspire students and help develop their passion," she says. "Dance is such a power art that can really bridge gaps." Kerryanne is focused on completing her studies. "I need to complete my choreographic work and finish writing my dissertation – so not much work to do!" she laughs, with a strong sense of sarcasm.

You can follow Kerryanne and Chanwyn on social media for more on their research and choreographic journeys.

For more about Exposure, including the winners of other categories, visit the University website