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Critical Dialogues Issue 8 Environmental Impact August 2017

Critical Path Staff: Director Claire Hicks General Manager Laura Osweiler Project Manager Bibi Serafim

Publication Staff:

Editors Liz Lea and Kyle Page Copy Editor Laura Osweiler Designer Kathleene Capararo Contributors James Batchelor Lindy Hume Gene M. Moyle Dr Sarah Jane Pell Jade Dewi Tyas Tunggal Vicky Van Hout Dean Walsh The next issue of Critical Dialogues is scheduled for November 2017. Sign up to Critical Path newsletters to stay informed.




Introduction Liz Lea and Kyle Page …………………………………………………………………………………… 4 Light, Space, Silence... Elemental Thinking Lindy Hume …………………………………………………………………………………………….…. 11 The Psychological Impact of Environment on Creativity Gene M. Moyle …………………………………………………………………………………….……… 18 An Inverse Trend Vicky Van Hout ……………………………………………….………………………………….….…… 24 Thoughts on Deepspace James Batchelor ……………………………………………….……………..………………….….…… 32 Embodied Environmentalism Dean Walsh ……………………………………………………..……………..………………….….…… 38 Following the Bodies’ Natural Edge to the Abyss of Space Dr Sarah Jane Pell ………………...…………………………..……………..………………….……… 47 Moving with My Nature Jade Dewi Tyas Tunggal …..…...…………………………..……………..………………….……… 57


Introduction Liz Lea and Kyle Page

Artists’ Brief: Environmental Impact examines the affect of environment on creativity through the lens of 7 distinct thinkers, makers and creatives. In a discourse spanning physical and psychological environments, changing environments, remote and regional environments, connection to place, disconnection from place, vastness, intimacy and non-­‐traditional spaces, together we unpack the profound ways in which environment shapes experience and output in the creative realm. Liz Lea: I am thrilled to be co-­‐editing this Critical Dialogues edition with Kyle. The subject matter is very close to my heart and working with the different writers has been a stimulating and intriguing process. Some articles deeply moved me, others sent my mind soaring, dazzling my thinking. The opportunity to share thoughts, writings and discourses in this way is an invaluable one and both Kyle and I are grateful to Critical Path for inviting us to edit this edition of Critical Dialogues. Each contributor’s approach to the brief above gives a stunningly broad insight into the many and myriad ways in which artists see, creative and seek inspiration from the environment in which we live and work. We open with Lindy Hume’s article, which gives a very personal account into her experiences working in regional Australia -­‐ and which gave me a new found confidence in being based in Canberra. Gene Moyle’s article is one which I feel all artists will relate to -­‐ the clear and deeply considered outline of just how much our creative environments are shaped by the people we choose to work with. Vicki Van Hout’s article gives a great insight into the history of contemporary Indigenous dance practices, connection to country and how creation is informed by the land, space and place for her as an Indigenous dance artist. I have watched James Batchelor’s work evolve since he danced with QL2 over the past 8 years and am always amazed at the intelligence and ingenuity of his thinking and artistic processes. Seeing how Deepspace has evolved from his journey to the Antarctic is stunning and will continue to be so. Dean Walsh’s article is beautiful and brave as he shares his explorations of past and current personal experiences and how they have and continue to shape him, his practice and his way of engaging with the world. Sarah Jane Pell has provided a new mind crush for me -­‐ the extent and breadth of her work is stunning and the rigour behind her process is intriguing. Space flight is not the normal space for movement creation. We close with Jade Tyas Tunggall, who writes in the most beautiful and mystical way. It is like riding a wave of consciousness while also learning about her


cultural heritage and that of her ancestors, which aligns with her current practices and being with her daughter.

Liz Lea from above, swimming in a red dress -­‐ Photo Credit: Nino Tamburri

I grew up in Sydney and Malawi. We also lived in Bangladesh and Pakistan and these experiences have absolutely shaped me as a person and dance artist. My speciality in classical Indian movement forms was very much informed by living in and around countries in which the classical Indian forms evolved over many centuries. Being in the zone, in the space, as I call it, is fundamental to my creative practice. I respond best in rehearsal spaces with a history. Even when based in London for 20 years, I always returned home to Manly, NSW, where I was born, to create my solos. I would see family and friends and tuck myself away, nothing more, and work in Manly Dance Arts Studio. Then on tour, I found I knew a piece ‘worked’ when the movement resonated in the different spaces I rehearsed in around the world. Anything that did not resonate was cut and new movement, inspired by the heat of Goa, snow of Bassano, bustle of London and crazy energy of New York was added. The environments wildly influenced and informed each work and performance. However, the genus of each work was created from the sea, sand and solitude of a known and loved space. Outside of the soft shores of Manly, my most powerful experience in an environment was travelling to visit the Kalash people in northern Pakistan, a few hours walk from the Afghan border. This was in 1999 and it was till a crazy thing to do alone. It was literally two years before 9/11. I was deep in Taliban territory, in the wrong kind of Salwar Kameeze with AK47’s all over the place. As a non Asian artist specialising in classical Indian dance, I was researching previous interrelations between East and West. I was advised to ‘just go’. So, I did and it transformed me. Luckily, there were gentle, wise and discreet people to guide me. The Kalash are descendants from Alexander the Greats journey through the area in 326BC. They are extraordinary, resilient and deeply connected with their culture in a stunningly isolated environment. The Greek Embassy has built two dance spaces -­‐ one outdoor, a clear flattened area, and one indoor. The indoor


Liz Lea stands in water with arms up in a red dress -­‐ Photo Credit: Nino Tamburri

space, lit by two squares in the ceiling and the shaft of afternoon light that cuts through dust of the space, is forever etched on my mind. I have created innumerable works in squares of light since then. Maybe I didn’t need to go such lengths to work with squares of light... it was all part of a mind blowing experience, AK47s aside. The menstruating room the women lived in once a month, the graveyard with bodies buried above ground, the scathing, harsh beauty of the hills, the warmth of the people and being sick as a dog. Nearly 20 years on, it instills humility and desire in my creative practice. Now based in Canberra, I still go back to Manly to create. I find the relative solitude of the gum trees calming. I used to cry out for the madness of Covent Garden, but my practice has changed as I move away from a solo practice and seek younger bodies and minds to work with. Canberra has a beautifully creative


space around her and Gorman Arts Centre is a new hub for me. It lies along ancient energy lines and when an idea comes along with goose bumps, I have learnt to trust that the idea is coming from somewhere else, not me. It is from a higher place. My experience working with Tammi Gissell, Eric Avery and Graham David King taught me this and I am deeply indebted to them for opening a new way of thinking, connecting and being present on Australian soil. • Kyle Page: Working alongside the wonderful Liz Lea to co-­‐edit the 8th edition of Critical Dialogues has been deeply rewarding and intellectually stimulating. Together, we have selected seven artists with a broad range of experience and insight into the Environmental Impact of creating work in a variety of ways and conditions. Each of the articles speaks for itself with rich and compelling glimpses into the thinking processes and methodologies of these extraordinary creatives. Lindy, Gene, Vicky, James, Dean, Sarah Jane and Jade have been immensely generous and open throughout the process and I would like to thank each of you for your stunning contributions. For as long as I can remember, I have felt most at home surrounded by trees, swimming in the ocean or walking through wilderness. I love the way that nature can make you feel so dizzyingly small, so deeply connected and so wonderfully alive.

A dancer jumping sideways on a beach -­‐ Photo Credit: Amber Haines

Insight and inspiration has often arrived whilst wandering through wildlife -­‐ wandering in the truest sense of the word, with nowhere to be and no time to keep; staring at the immeasurably vast starlit sky in the desert, hiking through remote wilderness, sitting under waterfalls, strolling along the beach, rousing early for sunrise or pausing to catch sunset, standing silently in the snow, swimming on the reef and gazing in awe at the Aurora Borealis. The juxtaposition to these wild open spaces are densely packed cities, where the collision of humanity is endlessly fascinating and equally rich creatively, all be it for very different reasons!


Creatively, the spaces we inhabit have the potential to shape and inform the project as much as the research and concept. The space is not restricted to four walls and a floor; the space is the amount, or absence, of natural light, the energy of the room, the people, the temperature, the size... elements often unconsciously assimilated. The challenge and opportunity comes from sculpting these conditions, crafting the environment in all its manifestations to serve the creative process. Two creative environments that have etched themselves most deeply in my memory were polarised in both scale and context. The first... a concrete garage in Varanassi, India. My wife and long-­‐term collaborator, Amber Haines and I were lucky enough to receive an Asialink residency in 2013. We travelled to Kriti Gallery, Varanassi, under the proviso that we would have access to a dance studio with parquetry timber flooring. Upon our arrival, we anxiously asked to see the studio; we were escorted to a derelict garage on the side of the property, which we entered, only to find two staff watering rough wet concrete, smiling. “The concrete has been freshly laid, ready for your arrival!” we were excitedly told. “Um, and where is the parquetry flooring?” we politely asked. “Here!” the staff replied as they unrolled a 4x4 meter sheet of linoleum, complete with an embossed parquetry floor pattern... This was our introduction to India, and this set the tone for a truly extraordinary 3 months of wildly unexpected, intensely provocative creative discoveries! The second... a Barquentine tall ship, Svalbard.In 2015, Amber and I were fortunate enough to take part in the Arctic Circle Residency -­‐ sailing a Barquentine tall ship around Svalbard for 3 weeks with 20 multidisciplinary artists from across the world. The silence was absolute and the sunlight omnipresent, even at midnight. We thought, we spoke and we read. We were wholly absorbed in the vastness of the natural world. Here on the edge of the earth we felt so small, so inconsequential, yet so intrinsically connected to all and everything that our place in the world made more and less sense than ever before. It is in these rather paradoxical extremes that I have discovered the most diverse and nourishing creative input. Inspiration abounds in environments far removed from that which is familiar, and it is here, on the edge, at the precipice of the ‘known’ environment that I like to find myself. •

Two dancers reach upward and around one another in ‘Syncing Feeling’ -­‐ Photo Credit: Ashley McLellan



Liz Lea Bio Liz Lea is a performer and choreographer based in Canberra and NSW. Her speciality is working with classical Indian dance and martial arts. Liz Lea Dance projects include 120 Birds, InFlight, Magnificus Magnificus inspired by the red tailed black cockatoo for Indigenous dance artist Tammi Gissell and Kapture, inspired by the freedom fighter Ahmed Kathrada.In 2013, Liz founded the DANscienCE Festival, 2013, 2015 and in 2018 in collaboration with FORM Dance Projects. Liz is currently working on The Galaxy Project and a new one woman show, RED, with solos commissioned from Martin del Amo and Vicki van Hout, mentored by Brian Lucas. Liz is currently shortlisted for an Australian Dance Award for her direction of Great Sport!

Kyle Page Bio

Kyle Page is Artistic Director of Dancenorth Australia. He has performed in 17 countries and collaborated with renowned choreographers including Meryl Tankard, Garry Stewart, Lucy Guerin, Gideon Obarzanek, Gavin Webber, Ikuyo Kuroda, Antony Hamilton and Stephanie Lake. Kyle and his long-­‐time collaborator Amber Haines have directed four main-­‐stage works -­‐ Syncing Feeling, Spectra, Rainbow Vomit and Tectonic. In 2013, they received an Asialink residency and in 2015 they attended the prestigious Arctic Circle Residency, sailing a barquentine tall ship around Svalbard for three weeks. Kyle received the Australian Institute of Management 30 Under 30 Award and was named Emerging Leader of the Year for the North Queensland Region in 2015 and was listed as one of North Queensland’s top 50 most influential people in 2015 and 2016.


Light, Space, Silence... Elemental Thinking Lindy Hume

A landscape shot of rolling fields, spotted with trees in the Candelo area -­‐ Photo Credit: Joanna Kelly

In the decade-­‐plus I’ve lived in regional Australia, one of the most useful and surprising discoveries is that the quality and characteristics of my thinking -­‐ the way I process thoughts -­‐ is quite different here, surrounded by the elements, to my thinking in the city. I recall the moment. I was sitting in the shade at the edge of a forest, looking out to the mountains and valleys. The sun had begun to set, the whole afternoon had passed but I had been working in such a state of flow that time had just disappeared. I had worked hard, the work was now done and I was happy with it. It felt like coming through a tunnel. Yet, I had at all times been intensely aware of my un-­‐tunnel-­‐like surroundings: abundant space, the air, kookaburras, the thud of kangaroos, the continuous movement of the trees and the shimmering light endlessly undulating through leaves. At first I thought it was simple -­‐ a change of scenery stimulating surges of productive thinking, but over time I came to understand its significance: when I’m here, my thinking will be clearer, deeper and richer, more continuous, and therefore, more fruitful. Initially, this epiphany was a lovely bonus, now it’s a creative strategy. The system works like this: When I have something new or complicated to write, or if I need to wrap my head around a big multi-­‐demanding directing project or manage a complex situation, I surround myself with the environment I need -­‐ abundant space, silence, light, the elements -­‐ to tear into it conceptually, to wrestle abstract ideas into submission, to map things out and turn my internal chaos into some kind of order. As long as I give myself enough time to change


gears from city to country, time to breathe, process and read, to walk through trees and watch the water, the elemental energy of this place always, always rewards me with some kind of clarity and perspective, and the electric charge of the ideas my creativity thrives on. Having this reassuring knowledge up my sleeve has, far more than once, averted meltdown by subduing the emotional panic associated with approaching deadlines or crises. Knowing that I have a highly effective thinking place to go to comb out the chaos has helped me manage (not conquer, alas) my anxiety and stress levels. In fact, in a weird way perhaps it even encourages me to take on more projects than I probably should. It’s not like I can’t concentrate, process information or come up with good ideas when surrounded by buildings, of course I can. I thrive on the many distractions and accelerations of urban life, most of my work is made in cities, but I now accept that these dynamics also make it harder to maintain the continuum of a thought-­‐stream, to spiral deeper into a concept, to sit with an idea for a while, to walk or drive with it and let it settle. To put it bluntly, I’ve learned that my thinking is faster yet shallower in the city, but deeper (although no less restless) and more productive when I’m surrounded by space, silence, light, distance and thousands of shades of green. This growing understanding of the effects of the natural environment on my own creative and thought processes has led to a growing fascination with the impact of the elements on the creative life of artists, and performance-­‐makers in particular. No doubt there are neurological and chemical impulses pinging around, doing complicated things to our brains, but that’s not my focus. My focus is on productivity. Why the elements affect human creativity interests me far less than how they affect my creativity as a director. And in terms of making new performance work, what might be the outcomes and implications of this deeper understanding? So the question I’m exploring is: How do the effects and affects of regional environments impact upon creative development processes devised by performing artists and directors? It’s a question I’ve begun to ask colleagues, in parallel with exploring my own experiences as I design and develop the first project of my own creative enterprise based outside the city. There is a confluence to their responses that is perhaps not surprising -­‐ the relationship between the elements and creativity is not exactly a new phenomenon. As long as humans have communicated by leaving marks, mark-­‐makers have sought to interpret natural phenomena. The resonances between environment and performance are core to the singing, dancing and storytelling on Country that connects a landscape to the maintenance of cultural practice for Indigenous communities. In the digital age the visceral experience of extreme weather, a powerful landscape or a sky full of stars can still reconnect even the most urban of creatures with a long-­‐lost wildness and the awe-­‐inspiring quality of greatness or


grandeur described as the Sublime. I like Kant’s idea that our ecstatic response to nature’s power is underpinned by terror of our human frailty, creating a tension between the rational and irrational mind that ‘may be compared to a vibration’. [1] Being attuned to a sense of proximity to the Sublime and wildness is certainly part of it. There’s no doubt I am affected by a deep aesthetic and emotional response to the unique beauty and power of the Australian landscape, and particularly the landscape of my home on the south coast. There may even be a quasi-­‐religious aspect -­‐ ritual, solitude and quiet contemplation -­‐ to the experience of getting focused and going into the ‘thinking zone’. In considering how the external environment affects internal focus, I am immediately drawn to the most obvious change one feels on leaving the city -­‐ a sense of space. One experiences distance, a horizon, we can see things far away, how the light and weather changes over that distance. We can feel our perspective and sense of space and scale adjust as we respond to a sweeping vista, a plummeting canyon, a mountain range, a winding road, a forest walk or the ocean. Our bodies experience more, and there are practical considerations -­‐ keeping warm or sheltered from the sun and wind. A sense of our human scale in relation to our surroundings is affected. It all adds up.

Person in a pink costume and wig, facing sideways, with arms bent at the Candelo Village Festival -­‐ Photo Credit: Paul McIver

My fascination about the impact of the Australian landscape on creative processes, sparked in my conversations with Mike Shepherd, founding artistic director of Cornwall’s internationally celebrated Kneehigh Theatre, coinciding with my previously described epiphany. Kneehigh’s fantastic show, ‘The Red


Shoes’, was in my 2011 Sydney Festival, and the company’s ethos was a revelation to me. Over its thirty-­‐year evolution from a raffish bunch of local actors to a company of national and international acclaim, the company’s creative teams have ‘held their nerve’ to maintain their distinctive way of theatre making and regional identity as a fundamental artistic priority. As Kneehigh’s manifesto makes clear, the elements are central to their work at The Barns, a series of restored buildings on the rugged Cornish coastline, cheek by jowl with neighbours’ farmland and overlooking the sea. ‘The isolation of the barns, and the need to cook and keep warm provides a real and natural focus for our flights of imagination. This... radical choice informs all aspects of our work. Although much of our work is now co-­‐produced with larger theatres, we always try to start the creative process at these barns, to be inspired by our environment and where we work. These elemental and charged spaces add a physical and vocal robustness to our performance style.’[2] Kneehigh’s early shows in the 80s took place in ‘less conventional places’: ‘We created theatre on cliff tops, in preaching pits and quarries, amongst gunpowder works and arsenic wastes, up trees, down holes, where the river meets the seas and where woodland footpaths end.’ Many of Kneehigh’s most famous shows are retelling of myths animated in the company’s distinctive narrative style, featuring natural light and in particular, the shift from day to night. ‘The Red Shoes started outdoors so there was the storytelling element that as dark fell, it affected the actual shape of those stories, Red Shoes, Tristan and Isolde. The story deepens and the emotions deepen with the darkness.’ The sensuality and wildness of those early theatre-­‐making experiences is embedded into the Kneehigh rehearsal process at The Barns: ‘We’ll be out on the field, or we’ll mark out the space down on the beach and we’ll run (the show). We get out on the cliffs and we sing and we run... then there’ll be times when we focus on a more intimate space indoors, so its a mixture of the intimate and the epic...All the fresh air and the changes of weather and the running about give a natural robustness and rigour physically and vocally. We find it hard in the cities to get peoples’ vocal strength up, and it just happens naturally here.’ Beyond the physical, Mike asserts that an awareness of the environment is key to establishing a psychological state conducive to creativity: ‘This place, the Barns, it’s at the end of the United Kingdom, it’s at the end of the road, and it has a massive horizon, which makes you look outwards, it makes you have an open mind, which is important... and quite hard to keep a hold of.


It’s about getting people to step back a little bit, which they readily do, and they look at that horizon or light that fire, or get their hands dirty or just put a woolly jumper on if its getting cold. So they’re the simple elemental things that I mean, really. You’re in a lot of weather. The weather’s changing a lot of the time and you do step back... you eat together...we sit around that fire-­‐pit, you surround yourself with the rudimentary nature of things.’ The shared or communal experience of weather and environment, combined with the relaxed atmosphere that is part of the regional experience, also has an effect on productivity and the sense of ‘flow’ that is so important to the creative process. In my recent Platform Paper ‘Restless Giant: Changing Cultural Values in Regional Australia’, I offered this example: Recently I was part of the co-­‐creation, with playwright Suzie Miller and singer/songwriter Zulya Kamalova, of a new version of Snow White co-­‐produced by OperaQ, Brisbane Festival and La Boite Theatre. The complexity of the works development was tripled by the fact that all three of us were in different cities. Most of our communication was digital, exchanging ideas and drafts via email and Dropboxed sound files. But we are very different women and artists, and we had never worked together before, so there came a point when we needed to spend real time together to find our shared voice. Having found a single weekend in our schedules we chose to run away to a beach shack on the NSW central coast. We walked and talked and talked and walked for three days, along the coastline, over rocks, through bushland. Ideas flowed effortlessly, progress on the work bounded ahead and we returned to our various bases with the heart of Snow White, and the body of the show. Most of our work was done while walking or driving, preparing or eating our meals, or sitting on the beach as the sunset -­‐ casual, communal creativity combined with an accelerated sense of ‘flow’ that many regional artists know well. [3] Perhaps this sense of ‘flow’ is the nexus we’re seeking, that there is a logic or synergy between environmental flow and creative flow. Perhaps landscape provides a physical, external counterpoint to the internal flow experience as described by the psychologist Mihaly Csiksentmihalyi, that deeply pleasurable state of optimal productivity ‘in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter’, a state that all high-­‐level artists revel in, consisting of deep concentration, high and balanced challenges and skills and a sense of control and satisfaction. [4] Solitude and silence are often cited as essential by thinkers and writers. Candelo singer/songwriter Heath Cullen says: ‘I write well in a cluttered environment in the city too, but I have a much bigger need -­‐ the quiet. Last night I was out on the porch and it was so quiet, I could hear the creek about a kilometer away.’


But once the writing’s done, creating a sense ensemble, community and shared purpose are central to the development of new performance works. And here too, the casual mode of a regional environment can support the creative process. The fact that the atmosphere s relaxed does not mean the work is less important -­‐ often the work continues well beyond business hours -­‐ timetables and schedules flex; relationships are neighbourly as well as professional; people are in and out of each others houses for rehearsals and meetings. There are often dogs and kids around. There is practical value to the project of extending that creative conversation over that beer after rehearsal. Consciously or not, an informal mode of ‘reflection-­‐in-­‐action’ is happening which will inform the next day’s work. Philosopher Donald Schön’s example of improvising jazz musicians is apt: ‘As the new musicians feel the direction of the music that is developing out of their interwoven contributions, they make new sense of it and adjust their performance to the new sense they have made. They are reflecting-­‐in-­‐action on the music they are collectively making and on their individual contributions to it, thinking what they are doing, and in the process, evolving their way of doing it.’[5] The shared meal and informal after-­‐work gathering, ubiquitous rhythms of communal life, are rituals that underpin the creative process everywhere, but in regional Australia they too respond to the natural environment. As Richard Sennett points out in his book ‘Together: the Rituals, Pleasures and Politics of Cooperation’: ‘Ritual enables expressive cooperation in religion, in the workplace, in politics and in community life.’ In summary, it is impossible for artists and thinkers to not to be affected by their surrounding natural environment in some or all of these ways. Attuned as we are to the sensory experience of light, sound, smell, taste and touch; drawn as we are to Beauty and the Sublime; and being creatures of community, it would take a superhuman, indeed unnatural, effort to block that ‘flow’. Better then to abandon oneself to it, explore it and see where it might lead creatively and reflectively. After a period of residency at Bundanon, Wesley Enoch wrote: ‘... the river and the rocks allow you to think differently, (they) provide inspiration and a safe place to explore the role of the artist.’ This is the very idea -­‐ exploring the further potential of my role as an artist in an environment outside the city -­‐ that began with the revelation described in the first paragraph of this article. It’s an ongoing project, shared by colleagues around the country. The question of how the effects of regional environments impact upon creative development processes devised by performing artists and directors is the subject of further research I am undertaking as a student at QUT,


and as Creative Director of my own company ‘Crimson Rosella’, based where I live in Tathra on the far south coast of NSW. • References: [1]­‐aesthetics [2] [3] Restless Giant: Changing Cultural Values in Regional Australia, Currency House, p.24 [4] Flow: the Classic Work on How to Achieve Happiness (Rider, 1990) [5] Reflection in Action, the Reflective Practitioner: How Professionals Think in Action. Schön, D. A. (1983), New York: Basic Books.

Lindy Hume Bio:

Lindy Hume, former artistic director of Opera Queensland, Sydney Festival, Perth International Arts Festival, West Australian Opera, Victoria State Opera, and OzOpera has created more than 50 major productions across Australasia, Europe and the United States. International productions include Barber of Sevilleand Comte Ory (Seattle Opera), Don Pasquale (Oper Leipzig), La bohème (Deutsche Staatsoper, Berlin), Radamisto (Handel Festspiele, Halle), A Streetcar Named Desire and Norma (Opera Theatre St Gallen, Switzerland), Albert Herring and Phaedra (Aldeburgh Festival),andThe Barber of Seville, Rigolettoand Die Fledermaus for Houston Grand Opera. Her production of “Cenerentola”, has been presented by New Zealand Opera, Oper Leipzig, San Diego Opera and the Royal Swedish Opera, Stockholm.


The Psychological Impact of Environment on Creativity Gene M. Moyle

When reflecting upon what ‘environment’ is in the context of its psychological impact on creative practice, the focus on people as the environmental factor is an area not as readily considered within a creative setting. Add to this the way in which psychology can be utilised to assist artists explore people as the environmental factor and its impact upon creativity, and we have the opportunity to explore how other fields of research and practice can contribute to our understanding. When considering the ‘people’ factor, elements that play a role within this interaction include: intra-­‐ and inter-­‐personal dynamics; the actual physical space, context and the relationships and meaning we give to/have with it; and specific psychological and cognitive factors such as creativity. In the exploration of physical and ‘place’ contexts, Environmental Psychology has been defined as the exploration of the interplay between individuals and their built and natural environment. [1] This concept of physical space, place-­‐making, and the relationship to our physical environment/s in the context of creative practice has previously been explored in depth, therefore this article will primarily focus upon the exploration and reflection upon people factors as an environmental impact upon creativity.

Looking through studio 310 door at filled room -­‐ Photo Credit: James Dillon

When reflecting on the people factors, a point for consideration is who we (as practitioners) are interacting with through the course of our creating. Creative collaborators, artistic directors, producers, performers, the list goes on.... Who are defined as the leaders within this type of context and who makes up the teams? In the business and social behaviour literature, research[2] has demonstrated that Authentic Leadership (AL) promotes creativity through the creation of trust and psychological safety within the leaders team. Those leaders who exhibit high ethical standards and are transparent in their relationships, assist in creating a team atmosphere that is characterised by a high degree of trust; thus enabling the increased communication and knowledge sharing of ideas and information, which contributes to improved creativity. Ethical


leadership has additionally been found to increase psychological empowerment which in turn fostered creativity. [3]

Six dancers from the Liz Roche Company hold hands during a performance of TimeOverDistanceOverTime -­‐ Photo Credit: Luca Truffarelli

When considering the notion of extrinsic motivators and how they are used by leaders and organisations, reward for creativity has been found to enhance the association between novelty and an individuals performance, dampens the relationship between usefulness and performance, and has no influence on the relationship between integrated creativity and performance. [4] However, when dealing with subjective art forms, what constitutes an extrinsic reward from leaders and/or others? Positive feedback, audience response, critical acclaim, box office success? What perceived role or impact do these have upon creativity, and does this shift at different points within the creative process? Typically, intrinsic factors have been viewed to be central to the motivation of involvement in the arts in light of a love, passion or calling. Stanko-­‐Kaczmarek identified that intrinsically motivated art students experienced significantly higher levels of positive affect and higher evaluation of their work in all stages of the creative process, when compared to extrinsically motivated students. [5] Motivation is believed to sit at the heart of the creativity process[6], therefore when leading a creative process or working in collaboration with others, it would appear important to invest the time in understanding the motivations and motivators of these people within our environment. Neuroscience, namely


Neuroleadership as defined by David Rock[7], provides a scientific basis from which an understanding of our brains and how they work in relation to each other, and can significantly assist in supporting how we lead and interact with one another to get the best outcome/performance. Rocks SCARF® model is a brain-­‐based model that has become a foundational framework and approach within leadership development, and has been applied within a variety of sectors and industries. [9]

David Rock’s SCARF Model -­‐ Image Credit: Woithe & Co

Describing how we each have a preference for operating from, or being triggered by, one or more of five key domains/cues (i.e., Scarcity, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness, Fairness), Rock outlined that we do this to address our survival instinct; that is, the Approach (Reward) -­‐ Avoid (Threat) response. [9] As a leader in any setting, we are encouraged to first understand what our SCARF preferred response is, and then invest time identifying what each of our team members primary response entails. Once this is known, we are challenged to adapt how we communicate and interact on the basis of which approach will get the best response out of people in line with their SCARF preferences. How often do we (seriously) reflect upon such considerations within creative practice settings? If we aren’t doing this regularly, how can we start to remind ourselves about the importance of recognising the potential interactions and impact that these detailed, complex and embedded attitudes, behaviours and instincts can have upon ours, and others, creativity? Shifting into the understanding of context in the case of creativity, Glâveanu[10] outlined that cultural psychology proposes that despite the important role of


individuals and their traits (i.e., cognitive, motivational, personality) in the process of creative production, it suggests that people are considered in a broader temporal and spatial context. That is, it is defined by its view of creative work in time and space as a relational process between creators and audiences, and engaging existing cultural artefacts in order to generate new outputs. This perspective was based upon Glâveanus[11] sociocultural reformulation of the conceptualisation of the four Ps of creativity (i.e., person, process, product, and press) into the five A’s: actor, audience, action, affordances, and artefacts. Linking this back to leadership and creativity within creative contexts, how often do we invest time into clarifying how our creative team is going to operate -­‐ beyond the mechanics of what our roles involve? What are the teams values? What are the specific roles and responsibilities that each of the members would be expected to perform -­‐ individually or collaboratively? Are we conscious of the psychological factors at play within the dynamics of our interactions with each other and/or the environment and context we are working within? Or is it inherent within our professions that we will just know what all these are based upon our engagement as a dancer, producer, designer, choreographer; influenced by the unspoken hierarchy that we have learnt to conform to as part of our training -­‐ whether formal or in the workplace?

Six people congregate around lights and computers -­‐ Photo Credit: James Dillon

Ed Catmull, co-­‐founder of Pixar Animation Studios, outlines in his account of leading Pixar and Disney Animation Studios, that the people and culture factors (i.e., psychological considerations) within creative environments are critical to success -­‐ both in terms of business and artistic results. [9] Leadership within these settings requires ensuring that new ideas are protected during


development stages then tested against a brainstrust of experienced creatives, whose approach is focused upon candid feedback shared from a perspective of improvement, not through fear and criticism; that communication does not follow organisational structures -­‐ everybody should be able to talk to anybody; and that leaders need to make it safe to take risks and focus on the learnings from failure. When considering the literature in the leadership and corporate areas, when we lead a project or creative collaboration, it is essential that we consider such psychological factors in the set-­‐up, operations, and completion of the project/s for the group (i.e., the team). Incorporated into the framework of leadership, is an understanding of the intra-­‐ and inter-­‐personal people factors that play a crucial role as part of the environment we work, create, and practice in. Meaning, belief systems, previous experiences, world-­‐views, perception, and emotional and social intelligences all contribute to our interactions and relationships with and within these contexts. How creative practice activities relate to our own vision and purpose, both as an individual and related to our professional self, in addition to whether they align (or not) with our goals -­‐ can impact or influence our own creative process. Using the SCARF model [9] as a foundation for understanding individuals motivations or likely responses, it would appear helpful to invest some time thinking about the range of people factors within the environments in which we create. Ensuring that we look to other areas of research and practice to take away and apply learnings that could make a difference in our own context, may be beneficial in looking at more closely in our preparation to create to the best of our ability. • References: [1] Steg, L., van den Berg, A. E., & de Groot, J. I. M. (2012). Environmental psychology: An introduction(1st ed.). Chichester, West Sussex: Wiley-­‐Blackwell. [2] Meng, H., Cheng, Z., & Guo, T. (2016). Positive team atmosphere mediates the impact of authentic leadership on subordinate creativity. Social Behavior and Personality, 44(3), 355-­‐368. doi:10.2224/sbp.2016.44.3.355 [3] Basharat J., Atique A.K., Sajid B., & Surendra, A. (2017). Impact of ethical leadership on creativity: the role of psychological empowerment. Current Issues in Tourism, 20:8, 839-­‐851, doi: 10.1080/13683500.2016.1188894 [4] Sue-­‐Chan, C., & Hempel, P. S. (2016). The Creativity-­‐Performance relationship: How rewarding creativity moderates the expression of creativity. Human Resource Management, 55(4),637-­‐653. doi:10.1002/hrm.21682 [5] Stanko-­‐Kaczmarek, M. (2012). The effect of intrinsic motivation on the affect and evaluation of the creative process among fine arts students. Creativity Research Journal, 24(4), 304-­‐310. doi:10.1080/10400419.2012.730003 [6] Nakamura, J., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2003). The motivational sources of creativity as viewed from the paradigm of positive psychology. In L. G. Aspinwall & U. M. Staudinger (Eds.), A psychology of human strengths: Fundamental


questions and future directions for a positive psychology (pp. 257 -­‐269). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. [7] Ringleb, A. H., & Rock, D. (2008). The emerging field of neuroleadership. NeuroLeadership Journal, 1, 1-­‐17. [8] Catmull, E. E., & Wallace, A. (2014). Creativity, Inc: Overcoming the unseen forces that stand in the way of true inspiration. NY: Random House. [9] Rock, D. (2008). SCARF: a brain-­‐based model for collaborating with and influencing others. NeuroLeadership Journal, 1, 1-­‐9. [10] Glâveanu, V. P. (2014). Theorising context in psychology: The case of creativity. Theory & Psychology, 24(3), 382-­‐398. doi:10.1177/0959354314529851 [11] Glâveanu, V. P. (2013). Rewriting the language of creativity: The five A's framework. Review of General Psychology, 17(1), 69-­‐81. doi: 10.1037/a0029528 [12] Amabile, T. M., & Pillemer, J. (2012). Perspectives on the social psychology of creativity. Journal of Creative Behavior, 46(1), 3-­‐15. doi:10.1002/jocb.001 [13] Luckman, S. (2012). Locating cultural work: The politics and poetics of rural, regional and remote creativity. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan. doi:10.1057/9781137283580 [14] Rock, D. (2011). Neuroleadership. Leadership Excellence, 28(8),11.

Gene M. Moyle Bio:

Gene has worked across a dynamic mix of fields including the performing arts, elite sport and the corporate sectors. A graduate from the Australian Ballet School, QUT Dance and after working with the Australian Ballet Dancers Company and Queensland Ballet, Gene pursued further studies to become a registered Sport and Exercise Psychologist. She has focused on the application of performance psychology and performance enhancement, particularly within the performing arts and elite sport domains. Gene is a Non-­‐Executive Director and National Committee member for a number of professional and advisory boards across a range of performing arts and elite sporting organisations, and is currently the Head of School -­‐ School of Creative Practice at QUT Creative Industries.


An Inverse Trend Vicky Van Hout

A dancer stands with one arm partially raised in the Long Grasses of Darwin

Australian Indigenous Dance an Inverse Trend -­‐ bringing the outdoors indoors: As Eurocentric contemporary choreographers continue to clamour in great numbers to leave their theatrical habitats, Australian Indigenous performance makers have been exploring the scope of possibility from an inverse trend, of infiltrating into the theatrical spaces. From a cultural practice that has been traditionally performed outdoors, the concepts of the environment and site specificity are inextricably bound to my works and those of my contemporary indigenous choreographic peers, as cultural thematic drivers and as indicators for mandatory cultural consultancy and permissions is no longer confined to representations of performance in situ on country. In order to illustrate the many ways in which site specificity continues to inform and impact Australian indigenous dance, I will provide a brief description of the diversity of currently existing (although not regulated or officially recognised) Indigenous dance categories or genres, their manifestations and purposes. I will outline the initial anthropological significance of Australian Indigenous art making conducted


before British settlement, which lead to the formation of the resultant genres in reaction to the colonisation process. Focusing on the Aboriginal human rights activist movement of the 1960s and 70s, in combination with and in juxtaposition to American dance theorist Susan Leigh Fosters research into the American resistance and post-­‐modernist dance movements, I will locate this form of social activism as the tipping point for greater visibility and opportunities for Aboriginal arts and artists citing my experience in conjunction with performances from myself and my Australian Indigenous peers. Locating Australian Indigenous Dance Location is of paramount importance in the Australian Indigenous artistic lexicon. The first thing another Indigenous person will ask is, ‘Where are they from?’ Or, ‘Who’s their mob? Who are they related to?’ This geographical line of enquiry represents a mandatory prerequisite applicable to all indigenous artistic styles and cultural practices. These styles have come to unofficially include those considered ‘traditional’ which are indicative of an unbroken lineage of expression extending before the advent of English settlement and are primarily performed as part of cultural ceremonies including funerals and men’s coming of age practices. Another is the ‘contemporary traditional’ aesthetic, similar in appearance and content to the ‘traditional’ (often remote) community styles. Contemporary traditional dances and groups are post-­‐colonial constructs consisting of reimagined or revitalized dance practices including reclaiming lost languages. Caused by the systemic breaking up of families due to forced removal off homelands and institutionalization, these dances focus on reconnecting a relationship to the environment. Contemporary traditional art and performance is promoted through many avenues including, cultural tourism and as strategies within the education and state or government systems to promote positive Indigenous acknowledgement and community engagement. Lastly a ‘contemporary Indigenous’ artistic style is an umbrella term, which may or may not include both the unbroken and recently formed ‘traditional’ styles. The term ‘contemporary indigenous’ generally refers to the works that are presented within the mainstream Eurocentric contemporary artistic spaces and movements. Aboriginal Dance -­‐ from the Dreaming: Indigenous art making processes including, painting, storytelling, song and dance, were inherently site specific acts chronicling ‘Dreaming’ activities. Anthropologists Spencer and Gillen were the first Europeans to document a universal Australian Aboriginal concept of ‘The Dreaming’ or ‘Dreamtime’ fundamentally binding the people in a geographical relationship to the land, called the Alcheringa by the Arrernte people in 1899. [1] The Alcheringa is a complex non-­‐linear definition of time and place known as the cold or Nyitting time by the Nyoongar of WA[2] and the time when the Yolngu Wangarr spirits came to rest, creating the land and all of its features in North East Arnhem land. [3] The Dreaming is accessed through action. Through the acts of artistic expression participants are present here and now while simultaneously communicating with the first hybrid entities, the prototypes of all beings existing thousands of years beforehand. A Personal Initiation to Cultural Dance from the Kimberleys:


As a young Aboriginal dancer, I realised the geographical significance in relation to cultural arts practices when I first embarked on a ‘traditional trip’ as part of the NAISDA (National Aboriginal/Islander Skills Development Association) Dance College in 1987, to Christmas Creek and surrounding townships. Earlier in the year, the representatives from the Kimberly region of Western Australia had come to the College, then based in the inner city suburb of Glebe in Sydney. They were kin relatives of a fellow student Josephine Ningali Lawford. Their names were Nipper (Buck) Tubagee, who was songman (and renowned Aboriginal rights activist establishing better living conditions for the remote Noonkanbah community in the 1970s) with dancers and fellow elders Peter and Dora Francis. While the Kimberley Elders were in residence in Sydney, we learned their dances. The days were long and the dances small and repetitive in comparison to the mainstream techniques including classical ballet and Graham based Modern taught at the college. The women’s dances were smaller and far less spectacular than the men’s counterpart, which was punctuated with dynamic stomps whilst holding elaborate woven woolen artefacts in their hands and propped on shoulders behind their heads. The women’s kinesthetic vocabulary consisted of more subtle gestures danced in unison as a collective organism, in comparison to the virtuosity of the men’s input. The days on country at Christmas Creek were even slower in pace than our taste of the remote WA homelands in the city. Slower than I could’ve imagined before actually travelling to the isolated town camp we would call home for the next few weeks. On this, my first ‘traditional’ trip, I remember the dry heat of the day and the plummeting temperatures at night. I remember seeing children at the local school with legs thinner than my forearms. I remember all of the women had closely shorn hair. I remember tap dancing on an outdoor stage constructed of doors for the community. I remember the iron rich red dirt penetrating every orifice, every nook, cranny, crag and corner of my being and everything I owned for weeks, months and years afterward. I remember feeling privileged amongst a community with little material wealth, feeling simultaneously guilty and comforted in the knowledge of the modern conveniences awaiting me back home in Sydney.

A cast member of Briwyant sits on the floor, surrounded by playing cards -­‐ Photo Credit: Jeff Busby


I remember (this story I have told many times before) after what seemed an eternity, we were going to finally dance. At around midday, we followed the women to a clearing of spinifex. We took off our tops and pushed the thick ribbed bands of our bras to our waists. Our chests were then slathered in a slippery shiny film of Crisco cooking oil in preparation for paint-­‐up. The ochre turned a deep red when it came in contact with the cooking oil and our skin. The spinifex did nothing to protect us from the damaging rays and my shoulders were hot to touch from over exposure to the misleading dry heat from the bright cloudless sky. After we were painted, we sat for what seemed like an eternity. By this time, my bra was back up over my shoulders and my top was back on. In our huddled formation all I could think about was the price of my forever ruined b-­‐cup as the oil saturated pigment seeped into the formerly pristine woven fabric of my undergarments. We walked back to camp as the too hot sun was dying and adjourned to our temporary abodes to wait some more. It got dark and we ate dinner. I remember drifting off to sleep to be wakened with the promise of performance. As the evening chill started to settle in my bones the men started to dance. Seated bodies watched the performance, slightly to the right of the songman. Some of us girls practiced steps in anticipation of our turn behind the audience seated on the hard cold red dirt. Although we mostly cradled large enamel mugs of sugary black tea, less for the taste, more for the respite it presented in lieu of standing on top of the low burning fire nearby for a share of the scant heat emanating from its dull embers. We danced for ten minutes in total that night, with our pictorially painted breasts safely concealed under our damaged underwear. Our contribution was ended before I was physically satiated. I remember feeling cheated. Then the men danced some more. It took years of reflection in hindsight to appreciate the fact that our dance was not confined to the 10 minute performance in front of the community. All of our actions that day: the walking to the place a little apart from camp, the paint-­‐up, the sitting and waiting, the anticipation of performance and the secret shared practice concealed at the back of the camp, the agonizingly slow pace at which everything transpired, formed a vital component of the greater dance act. (Before we left the community we were given dancing necklaces, some the length of our standing selves. The rope holding the nuts together answering the question of the commonly close cut coiffures of the locals.) The Birth of the Political Artist/Activist-­‐ happenings heralding change: The emergence of an assertive Aboriginal political activist movement in the early 70s which was inspired by the US African American fight for human rights activities, played an intrinsic role in the diversification of Australian Indigenous performative arts. These human rights activities included freedom rides against segregation in rural NSW[4], emulating those of Americas Deep South[5], and the


creation of an Australian Aboriginal arm of the Black Panther movement, which took an assertive proactive stance. [6] This assertive self-­‐determined approach precipitated the emergence of the Black Theatre of Redfern who created innovative theatrical works to address Aboriginal inequality, organising perhaps the most significant site specific act in Australia -­‐ the Aboriginal Tent Embassy. In the Early hours of 27th January in 1972, four Aboriginal men travelled from Redfern to Canberra, funded by the Australian Communist Party, to pitch a tent on the lawns of what is now known as Old Parliament House in protest of an address delivered by Prime Minister McMahon concerning Aboriginal welfare by promoting assimilation in a plan which detailed a proposal to grant fifty year leases of traditional lands back to communities, so long as they made ‘... Reasonable economic and social use of that land’[7] in accordance with the colonialist agenda of capitalism and consumerism. American dance theorist Susan Leigh Foster recognised the performative significance of the U.S. civil rights resistance movement, which influenced the development of the Australian Aboriginal activist movement, as site specific acts of creative merit and social import. Foster referred to the physical intervention of the 1960 African American dinner sit-­‐ins, whereby Black college students requested service whilst seated in the whites only areas of the cafeterias, as a ‘choreography of protest’. [8] Foster described the subversive mobilisation of bodies which was realised through an opportunity to seize economic leverage through the subsequent nationwide drop in sales, which contributed to the eradication of segregation as integrated service resumed. [9]

Cast members of Briwyant gather around a table; behind them is a projected image of a road on window blinds -­‐ Photo Credit: Jeff Busby

The Aboriginal Tent Embassy similarly presented itself as a powerful critical creative and political durational site specific happening by forming tongue-­‐in-­‐ cheek Aboriginal shadow ministry which utilised the media, including the burgeoning television industry, to bring international attention to the current plight of Aboriginal human rights[7], the epitome of which was securing a sit-­‐ down meeting with the then shadow Labor leader Gough Whitlam who would


eventually succeed McMahon in November of the same year.[7] While in office, Whitlam would implement significant improvements to Aboriginal people in the areas of health, land rights and the arts which was bolstered by the creation of an Aboriginal Board within the formation of the Australia council for the Arts to promote the visibility of Aboriginal arts and artists within the mainstream arts sector. The Contemporary Australian Indigenous Lexicon-­‐ my work and that of my peers Fast forward twenty-­‐three years, sitting alone in track 8 at Carriageworks in the inner Sydney city suburb of Eveleigh, amidst forty interconnected grey jigsaw mats, equipped with a piece of chalk, a stanley knife and a small mound of boxes of cheap playing cards, I constructed a river. Each card was representative of a dot, designed to make the eyes dance as they would a dazzling desert painting, in the attempt to elevate its significance from decorative set piece to sacred artefact. The completed river resembled and represented a cartographer’s map of my Grandmother’s country of Euabalong and the Lachlan river when viewed from above. All of the choreography occurred on either side of its artificial banks. In one section, the dancers travelled its length over and over and in the dance’s final vignette they systematically flattened its raised contours, marking the end of the dreaming narrative for which it was created. This elaborate set piece was dismantled and resurrected in several theatres on national tour. Briwyant, the work it belonged to, was indicative of my intention to transpose the theatre into my Grandmother’s ancestral homelands as an example of the memory practices, which first occurred as people were forced off their lands onto group settlements. Kuku Yalanji artist Marilyn Millers choreography Quinkin (Critical Path 2003), based on a Queensland Dreaming narrative containing two inter related spirits[10], utilised western artistic convention to ensure the perpetuation of her homeland culture. Similarly, Francis Rings demonstrated her connection to her cultural homelands in her choreographic piece X300 (2007) which acted as a contemporary Dreaming construct charting the Maralinga atomic bomb testing conducted in 1956-­‐57. The precedence for contemporary themed narratives to be added to the Australian Indigenous performance lexicon includes the Tiwi Islander chronicling of the bombing of Darwin[11] and the Borroloola Aeroplane Dance whose song and dance documents the downfall of an American WWII bomber. Lastly, many of Artistic Director Stephen Page’s Bangarra choreographies transform major international venues into satellite Yolgnu territories through danced and voiced vocabularies originally reserved for ceremony, including the signature work Ochres (1994), which utilises gestures charting Macassin trading predating British settlement. For many contemporary Australian Indigenous artists, we see ourselves as heritage makers, creating works demonstrating the vitality of Australian Indigenous culture as a living ontology, which is continually being augmented and reinvigorated through contemporary artistic demonstrations. Those early


Aboriginal activists used their site specific demonstrations to provide a pathway for contemporary urban Australian Aboriginal people to build contemporary practices in the metropolitan theatrical spaces; to create opportunities for cultural maintenance despite broken ancestral songlines and access to country. One of the biggest activist legacies, the ATSI board of the Australia council, continues to facilitate meaningful Indigenous representation in the arts evidenced by the creation of the Working with Aboriginal Arts Protocols guide (WAAP 2007)[12] regulating the mandatory implementation of the formerly more colloquial enquiry and consultancy into location of country and kin, as a crucial component of every indigenous creative endeavor, including all manifestations of Australian Indigenous arts practice. • References [1] Spencer, B & Gillen FJ 2014, The Native Tribes of Central Australia, reprint of 1899, London: MacMillan, London, last viewed 20 June 2015,, P & Roughsey, D 1978, The Quinkins, Collins, Sydney. [2] Robertson, F Stasiuk, G Nannup, N & Hopper, S 2016, ‘Ngalak koora koora djinang (Looking back together): a Nyoongar and scientific collaborative history of ancient Nyoongar boodja’, Australian Aboriginal Studies, vol. 1, pp. 40-­‐54, last viewed 15 March 2017, Academic Search Premier, EBSCO host. [3] Keen, I 2006, ‘Ancestors, magic, and exchange in Yolngu doctrines: extensions of the person intime and space’, Journal Of The Royal Anthropological Institute, vol. 12, no. 3,pp. 515-­‐530. [4] National Museum of Australia, Freedom Ride 1965, Collaborating for Indigenous Rights, last viewed 2 April 2017,,_1965 [5] 2017, Freedom Rides, last viewed 21 September 2015,­‐history/freedom-­‐rides [6] Foley, G 2001, Black Power In Redfern 1968-­‐1972, The Koori History Website, last viewed 11November 2015, [7] Foley, G Schaap, A & Howell, E (eds) 2014, The Aboriginal Tent Embassy: Sovereignty, Black Power, Land Rights and the State, Routledge, Oxon & New York. [8] Foster, S 2002, Walking and Other Choreographic Tactics: Danced Inventions of Theatricality and Performativity, SubStance, vol. 31, no. 2/3, issue 98/99, pp.125-­‐146. [9] Foster, S 2003, Choreographies of Protest, Theatre Journal, vol. 55, no. 3,pp. 395-­‐412.


[10] Trezise, P & Roughsey, D 1978, The Quinkins, Collins, Sydney. [11] Kuipers, L 2010, March 15 Aeroplane Dance in Borroloola, Australia, YouTube, last viewed 2 April 2017,­‐dkwKuipers, L 2013, March 19, Bombing of Darwin Dance by Tiwi Aborigines, Australia, YouTube online video, last viewed 2 April 2017, [12] Australia Council for the Arts 2007, Performing Arts: Protocols for Producing Indigenous Australian Performing Art: 2nd edition, last viewed 18 March 2017,­‐for-­‐working-­‐ with-­‐indigenous-­‐artists/Bangarra Dance Theatre 2017, 22 May 2017, [13] Marrugecku 2017, last viewed 22 May 2017,

Vicky Van Hout Bio:

Vicki van Hout, Choreographer; is a Wiradjuri woman and independent choreographer, performance-­‐maker and teacher. She has worked across a range of performance mediums nationally and internationally. A graduate of the National Aboriginal Islander Dance College (NAISDA), Vicki has learnt and performed dances from Yirrkala, Turkey and Christmas Creeks, Mornington and Bathurst Islands, as well as Murray, Moa and Saibai Islands in the Torres Strait. Vicki also studied at the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance in New York and has danced with companies including Aboriginal Islander Dance Theatre and Bangarra Dance Theatre. Vicki was awarded the 2014 NSW Dance Fellowship for established and mid-­‐ career artists -­‐ the first Indigenous winner of the Fellowship.


Thoughts on Deepspace James Batchelor

James Batchelor dances on deck; a craggy island can be seen in the distance -­‐ Photo Credit: Charles Tambiah

Thoughts on Mapping: I remember how much I loved my childhood desk, which had a map of the world on its surface. It was communicative and expressive, yet at the same time mysterious and romantic. Presenting the world as flat, I was endlessly curious about its edges. A map in its minimal elegance tempts our imagination about what is left out, what it does not show. I was particularly interested in the white mass at the bottom of the desk -­‐ a continent with no cities. Antarctica was a mysterious place that I wanted to discover. My first major work ‘ISLAND’, was partly inspired by writings of early Antarctic explorers and the difficulties they encountered in mapping an environment that had so few visual markers. I was extremely fortunate that the then Director of the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies in Hobart, Professor Mike Coffin, decided to come and see ‘ISLAND’. After this encounter, we met to imagine ways that we could work together. He asked if I would like to work on a research expedition at sea and I was immediately fascinated by the potential. To have an opportunity to go to Antarctica and research it through my own body was a dream. Nearly two years later in January 2016, I joined a team of 60 scientists, students, artists and ships crew on an expedition to the sub-­‐Antarctic Heard and McDonald Islands. Not Antarctica itself, but equally fascinating. Floating on the oceans surface in one of the most isolated places on Earth, science and art processes converged with surprising synergies. It was a particularly unique and inspiring space to study and research the body in movement. On a constantly moving platform, simply searching for stillness and stability was a task in itself.


It was a relentless project. For two months at sea, it demanded extreme patience and flexibility to meet the myriad of challenges that exist in such harsh environments. The isolation, confinement and repetitiveness of our daily experience prompted a profoundly unique approach to space and time. From this unfamiliarity, I developed a particular sensitivity to the body.

James Batchelor fits his body horizontally between parts of the ship -­‐ Photo Credit: Charles Tambiah

In embarking on this expedition, my primary question was; could my body be a map? I wondered how it could be a record and what information it could hold in its physical intelligence. In dealing with this task, I had to determine what I wanted to map. For many weeks we saw only endless ocean from horizon to horizon. I got to know the ocean intimately -­‐ its colours, patterns and movement. Occasionally, I would peer through a porthole window to see beneath its surface. Despite its mesmerising visual beauty, I craved contact with it. So far my experience relied heavily on what I could see, what I needed was touch and sensation. I would visit the Operations Room where the acoustic instruments were generating maps of the environment beneath the ship in real time. Taking note of the depth, I liked to see how long it would take me to run that distance on the treadmill, imagining myself running vertically downwards towards the ocean floor. Running on a treadmill on the ocean is an extremely profound experience, almost impossible to do without holding on. Carried by the movement of the ship, you are continuously running on many different planes. I discovered that although I was not physically in contact with the ocean, by simply being on the ship, I was experiencing its motion. I found that I had to learn again how my body would walk, run, sleep, eat, and breathe with its relentless presence.


Master sculptor Barbara Hepworth once said ‘I, the sculptor, am the landscape’. [1] Her relationship to the material world was one of communicating; transmitting form, intuition and intelligence from body to body. ‘I cannot write anything about landscape without writing about the human figure and the human spirit inhabiting the landscape -­ the balance of sensation and the evocation of man in his universe’. [1] While on the expedition, I discovered that the environment that I could most meaningfully engage with physically, was the one I was in contact with; the ship itself. Inspired by Hepworth, I began a process of understanding the ship by touch. I thought about my skin, the largest organ of the body, as the first contact point with the ship. Through the immediacy of touch, I could map the ships environment and measure it against my body as a ‘known’ quantity. It was a process in experimental cartography: interrogating form, documentation and translation. Each day, I would set up improvisations in different areas of the ship, moulding my body around its surfaces, measuring the distance between points in space. I would also film these improvisations; sometimes from my own perspective, other times from afar. By the end of the expedition, I had touched nearly every surface on the ship and in my skin I held a physical record. The next task is to see how this record is transmitted. What does it communicate, how is it useful? I am currently developing a series of works from large-­‐scale theatre to intimate gallery performances that continue this research. Again like Hepworth, it is now a process of communication from body to body; both for the dancers I work with and the audiences I perform to. What I am finding now, is that although I can somewhat recreate movement and sensation from the ship environment, as my memory fades it is more interesting to study the method itself. The physical act of sensing, interpreting and recording. The process of mapping rather than the map. Thoughts on measurement: Measuring is a way of processing what we sense, a tool to define our relationship to the universe in space and time. On the expedition, there were many measuring processes in action. The scientists used highly sophisticated instruments to measure the ocean environment. The ships crew relied on measuring distances precisely to navigate our course. I was of course busy measuring with movement. In movement, the body measures space and time very specifically. It is an internal process, based on our own sense of scale. Every step and every turn is a measuring process and remains in the history of the body.


James Batchelor suspends himself using parts of the ship -­‐ Photo Credit: Charles Tambiah

Fellow voyage artist Annalise Rees, was using this same bodily sense of scale to translate what she saw to pencil and paper. The physical act of drawing was also a real time process of measuring taking place in her body. But why measure? Measurements are crucial to knowledge; they are evidence, the basis from which we understand phenomena. There is no meaning in the measurements themselves. Knowledge is in the synthesis, links and connections


between them. There is a process of filtering, selecting and discarding that inevitably needs to take place. How do we know what we are looking for? This appeared to be one of the major differences between the arts and science teams; the scientists seemed to have a pretty good idea of what they were hoping to find whereas the artists had less expectation. The scientists sought to confirm, while the artists sought to challenge. Yet we could not have launched the expedition at all without a strong scientific hypothesis. Perhaps the artists had more of a luxury for openness. For me of course, the interesting part is not the conclusions or answers that could potentially be formed, but the search itself. What does it mean to practice science? For me on this expedition, I felt for the first time I could participate in science. To critically sense and measure space through the body was already scientific, albeit in an unconventional way. We were at least all committed to a process of inquiry and ready to question the practices through which we do it. This became an interesting discovery on the expedition, that in the simultaneous practice of science and art, all systems can be questioned. The known can again be unknown. Thoughts on the Unknown: What drives us as humans to explore the unknown from the deep ocean, to deep space? What is the physical encounter with the unknown? How do we recognise it? How do we capture it? The expedition was for me an encounter with the unknown, immersing myself within an environment of complete unfamiliarity. This proved to be extremely inspiring. A quote from one of my favourite philosophers Thomas Hulme reminds me that to be human is to accept that ultimately we must deal with uncertainty. ‘There is a difficulty in finding a comprehensive scheme of the cosmos, because there is none. -­ [The] [w]orld is indescribable.’[2] Accepting this thought has guided me towards an emphasis on process rather than outcome, of practice rather than theory. Research for me is in the doing. With our limited capacity as humans to understand and describe the complexity of the universe, there is yet something beautiful in the attempt and ultimately our failure. Perhaps it is the search itself that is inherently human. • References [1] Barbara Hepworth, ‘Studio International 171’ -­‐ June 1966; as quoted in “Voicing our visions, -­‐ Writings by women artists”, ed. by Mara R. Witzling, Universe New York 1991, p. 280 Barbara Hepworth, “A Pictorial autobiography”, Praeger Publishers, New York, 1970,p. 280


[2] Thomas Hulme. “Speculations Essays On Humanism and the Philosophy of Art ed by Herbert Read, London, Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co LTD, 1936, p220

James Batchelor bent over with arms in an ‘L’ shape on deck -­‐ Photo Credit: Charles Tambiah

James Batchelor Bio:

James Batchelor is a multi-­‐disciplinary artist from Canberra working internationally. His work has been presented by major festivals and venues around the world in theatres, galleries, museums and public contexts. He is most known for his prolific work ‘Metasystems’, which has toured extensively in Australia, France, Italy, China and Thailand. In 2016, James was an artist in residence on the RV Investigator with the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies. He has been commissioned on two occasions by the Keir Choreographic Award biennial. In 2017, he was presented by Dance Massive and has been commissioned to make a new full-­‐length creation for Chunky Move.


Embodied Environmentalism Dean Walsh

Dean Walsh kneels, wearing a blue body-­‐suit, washing a blue head -­‐ Photo Credit: David Brazil

1. Contempt or Commitment: the expanding and compressing space: ‘Houston, we have a problem...’ This timeless refrain was originally used to announce a life-­‐threatening event during a space mission in 1970 that had much of the human world tuning in. Transfixed, we held our collective breath hoping the Apollo 13 mission and the lives of those on board were not lost, and with them, our hope that we could securely reach outer spatial worlds. We ached for transcendence from our war-­‐ ridden home and NASA was offering us the balm of actuality. Whilst we were looking skyward, another immense and largely unexplored inner space lay all around and beneath us here on Earth. At its deepest the open ocean descends eleven kilometers. If outer space could entice us towards infinite expansion, then all that scientists were learning about inner space had the potential to entice us towards knowing more about our prehistoric, waterborne selves; our infinite genetic compression.


Apollo 13 satiated our drive towards a better tomorrow that could jettison us out of earth-­‐bound misery. The survival of the mission signaled a renewed possibility that we might reach beyond our worst and achieve our best. This is understandable, however, our focus outwards distracted us from the growing evidence that human-­‐generated environmental disruptions, including world wars, were real and needed much urgent attention. ‘It is a wholesome and necessary thing for us to turn again to the earth and in the contemplation of her beauties to know the sense of wonder and humility.’[1] In 1951, renowned marine biologist and conservationist, Rachel Carson, wrote her first international bestseller, ‘The Sea Around Us’ that was followed in 1962 by her seminal work, ‘The Silent Spring’. Her works are credited with advancing the environmental movement. But were the people of Earth listening? Well, yes, it seemed they were. Her book brought environmental concerns to an unprecedented number of people. However, 10 years later, post Apollo 13, many seemed to have become complacent around talk of a future environmental catastrophe. War had exhausted us and our modern household goods were ushering in new comforts we had never known prior. New homes and new worlds all seemed something tomorrow had on offer. Meanwhile, hundreds of billions of dollars were being hurled at other Cold War programs. By comparison, very little was going towards environmental science research agencies. It is unfortunate for us now that sufficient environmental funding policies weren’t put into place around the time we were so enthusiastically future-­‐gazing. Surely this alone elucidates why we can ill-­‐afford to wait any longer in addressing climate change urgency? Even if it means we must hurl a few hundred billion at safe-­‐guarding our inner space? In 2010, after attending the 3-­‐day Tipping Point conference at Carriageworks, I began to ask many other questions like this and felt compelled to continue my research interests. 2. Atmospheres of Urgency: the oldest dance of all has become the dance of our lives: In 2009 after watching the documentary, ‘The End of the Line’, about overfishing, no-­‐one in the cinema moved. Two hundred strangers sharing a stunned silence. I thought, ‘Right, if a film can do this to a couple of hundred people a pop then there must be something I can also do with my art as a creative communicator.’ My subsequent dance and environmental research became my own Apollo 13 mission. Now, with so much advanced evidence at hand, many of the world’s most accomplished environmental scientists are screaming, ‘Hey Houston! Yup, we most definitely do have a problem’!


Dean Walsh in a blue body-­‐suit, sits underneath an upside-­‐down umbrella -­‐ Photo Credit: Heidrun Lohr

Their data warns that we must look at realigning our lives with the balance of nature and look beyond our anthropocentricity when proclaiming our rights to a sustainable existence. This doesn’t mean we must don hiking boots or scuba gear and take the plunge into nature -­‐ though it does help in gaining profound embodied insight. For me, it is more about raising awareness in any way we can, whether we’re nature go-­‐getters or hard-­‐core city slickers. All cities are part of our shared biosphere, here on the only habitable planet in the known universe. I feel one of the more potent and inclusive methods to raising awareness around environmental concern is to embody the information marine scientists have discovered. We have been creatively embodying the natural environment since our earliest nomadic existence. We once all lived within an intrinsic interconnected knowing: ocean-­‐river-­‐animal-­‐human-­‐earth-­‐tree and, yes, stars. These were daily experiences for our ancestors to synergistically contemplate, absorb and form complex embodied (and disembodied) relationships with. We saw ourselves as integral to the whole and these environmental immersions fueled our sense of identity, right alongside other-­‐than-­‐human beings. We


transformed our experiences into dance, song, music, visual art and storytelling. Art and science were inextricably linked and have shared an ancient genealogy, so why on earth should they be separate now at a time where the need to express environmental reconnection is so critical?

Dean Walsh, looking up, raises an upside-­‐down umbrella above his head -­‐ Photo Credit: Heidrun Lohr

I’ve been fascinated with marine realms my whole life. Unfortunately, as a child, chronic disruptions at home, dramatically affecting my schooling, meant I was forcibly diverted from my core interests. I discovered dance quite by chance at the age of 20 and it satiated needs for self-­‐expression of heinous acts committed against my body (and mind). I now realise that my mature dance practice, having taken a seemingly dramatic turn in terms of where I now draw my creativity from, is an organic evolution of my creative and innate interests. Throughout the 1990’s and early 2000’s, my works focused on expressing abuses inflicted upon my personal body, which expanded to express the abuse of my cultural LGBTIQ ‘body’ (societal and familial discrimination and countless AIDS related deaths). As I began to comprehend the wider picture, my work developed to express the abuse of familial ‘bodies’ (war, its aftermath and ‘ex-­‐serviced bodies’). When I returned to Australia after working for three years in the UK and Europe, I felt the need to shift focus for my own wellbeing. Then, in 2008, I got my first scuba diving certification and this was the next game-­‐changer I wasn’t expecting. I could see a range of possible methods to experiment with, embodying marine understandings whilst bringing my practice a renewed investigation. Scuba became an experiential conduit to expressing abuses facing our planet’s massive water body. In 2010, I found the disability-­‐inclusive community through developing a work ‘Second Nature’, with Restless Dance Theatre. Here I felt right at home. I next joined Sydney-­‐based disability-­‐led performance ensemble, RUCKUS, as a key collaborator where I could explore the expression of yet another neglected ‘body’


-­‐ the disability arts community. The mistreatment of ‘body’, in some form or other, seems to underpin my creative life’s work. Social and environmental awareness are really one and the same for me. The promotion of health, wellbeing and sustainability of the natural realm is the promotion of our own intrinsic wellness and longevity. Environmental science is now the lynchpin to my teaching, research and choreographic practice enabling me to be the informed advocate, activist and artist I feel I’ve always been, regarding the content I’ve wrestled in all my works since 1991. For me ‘embodied environmentalism’ is the most apt description of the inclusive methods I employ in my current practice. I want to exclude no-­‐one, to leave nobody feeling invisible, patronized, defenseless or dismissed. Given so much scientific climate change information is already out there in written form and often way too abstract for most people to make relevant, integrated sense of in their day to day lives, sensory-­‐based and creative embodiment systems can offer new ways of understanding complex theories about our physical, natural world. If I’m to continue developing a methodology aimed at reflecting upon and educating environmental fascinations and concerns, then I feel I must engage in a fully inclusive research and development practice that brings all points of view and lived experiences into consideration. The evolution of human artistic expression, over a vast time frame, has facilitated countless methods of expression, largely informed and developed by our ancestors’ relationship to the physical natural world. Even when we make work that is focused on reflecting our contemporary human condition we are communicating animal to animal realities. It is not such a big leap for me to study other species and learn all I can about them, their mannerisms, behavior and relationship to habitat, and to see if I can modulate these into human movement tributes, celebrations and embodied awareness-­‐raising methodologies. For me, these methods need to be formatted in a way that scientists feel they also have access to and I have sought out numerous strategies to do this allowing them to recognize their research in what I’m physically investigating. My interest is in facilitating research processes through environmentally direct (scuba and free diving) and indirect (studio-­‐based movement research) practices. I do this by teaching specific modulations and compositional improvisations inspired by my marine interactions. It would be very ‘unaware’ of me to make my research methodology, PrimeOrderly, exclusive to only fully trained dancers. My ongoing and persistent question is, who are we in the greater natural environmental context? Through embodying marine understandings, we learn about this realm in ways our ancestors once did -­‐ through direct lived experience and our muscle memory. ‘The body keeps the score’. [2] 3. What is PrimeOrderly?: PrimeOrderly is a movement methodology I have developed over 8 years that needs far more space than I have in this article to fully explain its inner workings. I finally have a website up this week and plan to keep it well-­‐stocked with details of how I incorporate my research methods in various contexts. As a movement


reference taxonomy, PrimeOrderly helps me record, codify and then play physically, and more organically, with the scientific research data drawn from specific marine eco-­‐systems, the species within them and their relationship to one another. Through this I feel I can then start to impart these intricate findings to participants in diverse workshops, classes and during the construction of performances. It is a methodology in development -­‐ I claim no finite end results to my research.

A dancer stretches out a string dotted with balloons -­‐ Photo Credit: Heidrun Lohr

PrimeOrderly is also part training methodology. Its written structure is loosely inspired by the biological taxonomy used by biologists to classify organic life. This acts as a type of user manual, which provides definitions of the physical language uncovered in my research. The system can be referenced during general practice and training, educational forums, as well as professional and non-­‐professional dance classes. It is comprised of four primary domains: Zoomorphic Eco-­‐Logic Sensory (Inner Spatial) Architectural (Outer Spatial)

Dean Walsh balances an upside-­‐down umbrella on his face -­‐ Photo Credit: Heidrun Lohr

It has over thirty-­‐five subset movement modalities and countless precepts (rules


of specific engagement). PrimeOrderly brings together two decades of experience in choreographic practice with now eight years of research into human interactions with marine environments. My research was first developed during several Critical Path residencies and then my (2011-­‐2012) dance fellowship from Australia Council for the Arts. 4. Believe art matters: what to do with hard-­‐core facts in a post-­‐truth world: ‘Houston, are you still there?’ In writing this article, I wish I could include that all humans, without exception, back our environmental experts up with another timeless refrain; ‘… and so say all of us… which nobody can deny…’ This is, unfortunately, far from true. It is overwhelming but as an artist wanting to play my part in the problem solving, one way I have found to carve through feelings of helplessness is to attend information sessions, pick up plastic debris whilst walking my dogs and on volunteer diving days and attending rallies. Another effective way of expressing concerns is through facilitating people’s embodied experiences of PrimeOrderly. I feel as artists we need to know the scientific facts and learn how we can reflect them with the best hope the world has -­‐ creativity. There is a long list of human-­‐ generated environmental ills currently going viral across our world. Rather than list them here, I will soon upload them on my website with descriptions on how I, and other artists I know, are attempting to research and develop communication methods. Being submerged in the actual water environment, from which I draw much of my research, is also entirely reassuring. As someone living with acquired and congenital disability -­‐ complex trauma disorder (CTD), autism spectrum condition (ASC) and attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD) -­‐ I am also personally comforted by my methods of investigation. I see this as another natural progression for my artistic trajectory and I’m reassured by its greater environmental engagement. My methods suit my neuro-­‐diverse brain and calm my traumatized core belief system. Healing self means facing and dissecting hard-­‐core facts head-­‐on. Knowing self, for me, means learning to understand how my family and greater history have shaped me. I find many parallels between individual lives and the greater lived experience. The micro and the macro, the inner and the outer. Our planet and the greater universe. Humanity and the immensity of the animal kingdom. We are not alone and never really have been. The more I investigate marine environmentalism and disability-­‐inclusive practice, the more I find my clan. I’ve discovered that aspects of PrimeOrderly also benefit others with similar neurological diversities to myself, whilst nestling this integration within the greater environmental context. The more we stick with our core interests the more we find our raison d’être. Just like scientists, artists are explorers. We are driven to find ways of defining specific aspects of our shared lives and what it means to be human -­‐ or animal.


At the World Parks Conference in 2014, Hawaii-­‐based marine biologist and Ocean Resources Specialist for Kaho‘olawe Island Reserve Commission (KIRC), Jennifer Vander Veur, reassured me; ‘Dean individuals do count. Individual scientists get a lot of very important work done that they report to a larger team with, who in turn get to work to prove the individuals’ hypothesis and get it out to wider communication circles. Individual artists count too. You help spurn many of us on with your skill for taking an idea and finding methods to communicate it in ways we cannot. Your presentation was utterly captivating and made us think about our research in new ways. One person can inspire 10, who can inspire 100, who in turn can inspire 1,000. Just keep it up. Do not stop! We need you.’ To which I replied, ‘We need one another.’ •

Two dancers share the same balloon with their mouths -­‐ Photo Credit: Heidrun Lohr

References [1] Carson, Rachel, 1907-­‐1964. Silent Spring. Boston :Houghton Mifflin, (2002) [2] Van der Kolk, Bessel A. 6th ed. The Body Keeps the Score: brain, mind, and body in the healing of trauma.Viking Press (2014)

Dean Walsh Bio:

Dean Walsh is a Sydney-­‐based dance practitioner and inclusive arts advocate. Since 1991. he has been at the forefront of many significant shifts within the Australian arts and cultural landscape. Dean has make over 30 solo and group works, wrestling some difficult core human and non-­‐human themes. His works have toured Australia and many destinations internationally. Dean has worked with several disability-­‐inclusive companies and has been key collaborator with Sydney ensemble, RUCKUS, since 2011. Additionally, he has worked with DV8 Physical Theatre (London), No Apology (Amsterdam), ADT (Adelaide) and Stalker Theatre (Sydney) among others. With his Australia Council fellowship (2011-­‐2012), Dean developed an embodied-­‐environmental practice he calls


PrimeOrderly, influenced by his marine science fascinations and environmental concerns. www.dean-­‐


Following the Bodies’ Natural Edge to the Abyss of Space Dr Sarah Jane Pell

Sarah Jane Pell underwater, dressed in a space-­‐suit during Project Moonwalk Sarah Jane Pell: Simulation Astronaut, Project Moonwalk, Comex, Marseille FR. -­‐ Photo Credit: Alexis Rosenfeld, 2016

To help us to move confidently toward an uncertain future, artists must prioritize embodied approaches to understanding the marriage of human cognition, perception, affect and action in ever increasingly extreme and technologically mediated environments. The aim of my body of work is to map changes in human performance and expression caused and inspired by extreme environmental interactions from sea, to summit, to space. As a live artist, I’ve gained valuable insights by working as a commercial diver, at high altitude and in astronautics. [9] Astronautics is defined as the practice of navigation beyond Earth’s atmosphere. Astronautics is risky and costly but deeply alluring. The art of astronautics transforms human physical, temporal and spatial bodily memory[17] and teaches us about the wonders of the life in the universe and beyond. Astronautics has produced all kinds of art[10] and artists are encouraged to illustrate science, inspire and imagine space. Space art has often centred on the often intangible qualities of microgravity experience into an Earthly practice[3][11][18] but artists are not prioritized for spaceflight pre-­‐selection like pilots, scientists and engineers. The commercial spaceflight era is about to disrupt this.[1] I qualified as an Artist-­‐Astronaut Candidate on Yuri’s Night 2016 and follow Astronauts and Cosmonauts with artistic training: Alan Bean, Alexi Leonov, Guy Laliberté and Richard Garriott de Cayeux. Following the bodies’ natural edge to the abyss of space has inspired a new direction in my work: from Aquabatics[7] to Astronautics. The urgency of my mission is to create a movement to initiate new paradigms: a frontier body art to innovate on astronaut bodily memories and to contribute to extreme


performance and exploration. I also hope to instil the value of arts-­‐led research as a fundamental enabler of innovation, adaptation and evolution as a space-­‐ faring species through parallel research: operational/performative and instrumental/speculative action. Artist-­‐Astronaut: Operational/Performative: My formal training for spaceflight commenced in 2016 with Project PoSSUM[23]: an US civilian astronautics program designed to qualify mission specialists to conduct the NASA-­‐supported technology experiment S-­‐46 [Polar Suborbital Space Upper Mesosphere]. This included training to capture polar night shining cloud tomography and dynamic imagining data, conduct astrobiology research, media and outreach, and technology validation high-­‐altitude test flights. Continued operational training is vital to building somatic or corporeal literacy of the environmental impact of outer space on climate change and contemporary performance. ‘Performing Astronautics 2016-­‐2018’ seeks to firstly address the challenge of translating first-­‐person tactic knowledge embedded in the astronautic body. [4] By literally becoming the Astronaut, I connect or differentiate this knowledge with existing theoretical understandings of space-­‐based embodiment from an Earth-­‐based logic[10] (grounded, pedestrian, linear) and sea-­‐based sensitivity (buoyant, hydrous, flowing) [12]. By then connecting performing arts practice with astronautics, I also externalise how space impacts the human body/mind cadence to alter motion, rhythm, and perception of time/place spatiality in new ways. New strategies for space adaptation, personal expression and degrees of freedom, and interdisciplinary knowledge transfer for future missions may arise too. In 2016, I also joined Project MOONWALK[22]: a 3-­‐year research project conducting Astronaut-­‐Robotic cooperation EVA Simulation trials in Europe’s Moon/Mars Analogue sites. [6] Earth-­‐analogue simulations are typically simplified and abstracted representations of a more intricate real-­‐world system. I was a Simulation Astronaut testing the Comex Gandolfi II EVA SIM Spacesuit Underwater with integrated gesture-­‐control sensors to operate the YEMO robot. I also used hand tools for performing typical lunar surface activities in multiple underwater pool and sea experiments. It was particularly important that I demonstrated that with detailed adherence to disciplinary protocols, creative practice could occur in high-­‐risk operational training and research environments and achieve all mission objectives. I knew better than to ‘swim’. I walked, climbed and jumped, as an Astronaut in the 1/6th Lunar gravity before multiple cameras and security divers. With limited line of sight, I did not bend but pivoted the waist to twist down without generating torque or overbalancing to deploy payloads, collect and carry items. When all the telemetry failed, and I was ‘standing by’, and there were no media film crews present, I could experiment with Aquabatics.


Sarah Jane Pell underwater, dressed in a space-­‐suit during Project Moonwalk

Sarah Jane Pell: EVA Lunar Simulation, Project Moonwalk, Comex, Marseille FR. -­‐ Photo Credit: Alexis Rosenfeld, 2016

Performing astronautics underwater in a spacesuit was like finding the sweet-­spot between two bodies; two centres of balances and two communication and control systems: the time delays between were like encountering two worlds simultaneously. I defied the biometric ‘falling’ alerts, by breathing out upon extension and moving quickly between fall of my body and the suspended delay of the suit: buoyed slightly by the exhaled air cavitation in the helmet to support balance at all extreme tests of my movement range. It was the most beautify merging of every reality and dream I knew. [19] Never underestimate the embodied knowledge of small performance gestures and playful experiments. [10] Sixteen years ago I performed Second Nature


Second Skin, 2001 in the open ocean wearing custom-­‐made wings designed by Leonardo da Vinci to explore the poetics and mechanics of the ‘body in flight’ underwater. [7] Once I forgot about my self-­‐imposed instruction to fly and let myself flounder and fall, I surrendered to the sea and explored the real movement possibilities. Not surprisingly, the design was perfectly efficient for diving and not flapping. It taught me how to move the body of water rather than force myself on it. Captured by underwater cinematographer Paul Wolstenholm, the piece became the first significant creative output of Aquabatics Research Team initiative [ARTi] 2002-­‐2012 that I initiated at WAAPA. Revolution, 2005 (or The Vitruvian Woman) again referenced da Vinci. Underwater cameraman Adam Burke filmed me at Bathers Bay, Fremantle strapped to an Ayro Wheel, rolling over and over repeatedly along the sand towards -­‐ and then into -­‐ and under the Indian Ocean… dunking… dunking… until the water resisted me. Logging thousands of hours working in zero visibility, and performing all number of experimental Aquabatics, has ‘informed’ my body of a corpus of knowledge about the ocean[9] and many physical aspects of Astronautics training. I had practiced ditching and dunking, and wearing all kinds of water-­‐ filled suits and helmets. [7] With training, it wasn’t a huge stretch to perform pressurized spacesuit trials or an underwater egress from a ditched aircraft with and without the use of an Emergency Breathing Device (EBD) in Spaceflight Survival and Egress Training, 2017. My vestibular response affecting perceptual orientation, spatial awareness, movement control, posture, breathing and adaptation to visual disturbances, and auditory localization has conditioned well to hypoxic, disorienting and aquatic spaces. The challenge of communicating these embodied experiences remains the most rewarding part of my creative journey. Artist-­‐Astronaut: Instrumental/Speculative: Many Astronauts have reported the lack of a documentation format that can convey the microgravity embodiment that frames the environmental impact of space [5]. I had previously related this conundrum to the parallel performance challenges of documenting the embodied aquatic experience to a dry land-­‐based audience but it goes deeper.

Sarah Jane Pell stands, facing away, ready to dive into Bathers Bay -­‐ Photo Credit: David Hocking, 2006

In 2014, I sent an invitation to 7 astronauts including (Nicole Stott (US), Paolo Nespoli (IT), Ron Garan (US), Jeff Hoffman (US), Soyeon Yi (KOR)) asking them to collaborate for a Weightless Artists Association exhibition entitled Mission 014. I included 250g blocks of clay and a USB with audio and video from their missions. The invitation was to spend time moulding the clay as they ‘membered embodied microgravity experience prompted by Neuro Linguistic Programing triggers and then find it within. It was my wish that bodily memory


would somehow transmute into unconscious interactions with the material. I wanted to cast the hand-­moulded form in aerogel (an ethereal spacerated material lighter than air) and implant the elusive bodily memory artefact into a life-­size hanging sculpture and projection of their bodies in space. The task proved very challenging. Not one astronaut returned their clay; instead I gleaned insight into performance anxieties, trial runs and astronaut mindsets, and practical concerns of making art that immortalized something so sacred and personal, cloaking dutiful consideration to the legal property rights, copyright, self/state representation, open-­source access and public engagement branding issues. Secondly, I learned that aerogel was so brittle that I could not ‘sculpt’ it with precision. Machine made would be most unsatisfactory. To me it was clear that I must go to space: the public dimensions of personal expression by an artist astronaut would be unique and unencumbered, and by that virtue, bodily performance would be the subject of art, not the object of a representational remanent. I chose Mt Everest as a high altitude space analogue for an arts-­‐led simulation test mission Bending Horizons, 2015. [20] Sagarmatha’s glacier was a cold but welcoming body of water close to outer space, or so I thought. I set out to summit, capture HD 360-­‐degree video and record artistic expressions made on site, paired with GPS location, altitude and body sensor data. Over 17-­‐days, I trekked from Lukla 2840m to Everest Base Camp (EBC) at 5364m, acclimatising to the altitude while investigating interactions with a range of technologies and the environment. [8] Unexpected events, including the Nepal Earthquakes, ultimately prohibited me from reaching the summit and completing the project. My technology failed as often as the environment ruptured, and I faced enormous stressors. Nonetheless, the experience confirmed that my training and willingness to experiment and imagine was essential to meaningful interactions with the environment, and indeed my survival. By imagining the expedition as a dynamic space of performance once I was safe, I began to frame an analytical phenomenology of extreme bodily experience.

Diagrams of bodies are labelled with red and yellow stickers -­‐ Image courtesy the artist, 2014


As a way of processing my experiences of isolated training, a complex Everest summit attempt to make art at high altitude, and the rupturing of all reality during the Nepal earthquakes in 2015, I completed We are all Explorer Fish, 2016[21] the short film sequel based on my ‘Bodies in Extremis’ essay published in Star Arc: a self-­‐sustaining star ship, Springer/Praxis 2017. [16] I played Amulet the first human born in low Earth orbit, and her holographic flight crew, on a mission to set up a new outpost on Mars. ‘If she survives, others will follow and alone no longer is she...’ Amulet draws breath through a filtered snorkel plugged into drill holes in an ancient riverbed. An instantaneous rush of pure Oxygen floods her body: a temporary ‘high’, before heavier toxic Carbon Dioxide floods her lungs. As the risk of ingesting indigenous Martian organisms becomes higher, and the cloud of hot rain within the impact crater starts to fall like a sky descending into a sea, she sees the ancient explorer fish come to life before her very eyes. Threatening her existence and the entire mission, she calls on her alter ego for help… Filmed at the VSSEC Mars Simulation by Shaun Wilson in 2013, the Martian landscape had an eerie absence of life, and by contrast, my neo-­‐human onscreen performance of being possessed by fish spirits was rather disturbing. By combining scientific ‘reality’ with plausible speculative fiction, the live artwork also explored the psycho-­‐cartographies of our collective fears and desires for liberation and exposure to out of this world experiences.

Sarah Jane Pell crouches and examines rocks in stills from We Are All Explorer Fish Sarah Jane Pell, Site Reconnaissance VSSEC Mars Simulation, AU. -­‐ Photo Credit: Richard Byrne, 2013 A hand holding eight sardines Sardine Reference for Storyboard -­‐ Image Credit: Unknown

To begin with expressive acts such as live events and testing provocative interactive designs in space analogue environments and by creating poetic post-­‐ performance artifacts for exhibition and publication, I hope to invite questions of the bio-­‐political, technical and societal implications for a spacefaring humanity, and further discovery. It is a humble beginning, but as an artist, I recognise that the value of embodied knowledge practices (even if suits, vehicles and sensory technologies augment our bodies) remains superior to robotic envoys and digital simulations, so mission architects must engage artists in future flights and visions. A fully supported artist astronaut in space program would help build the kind of somatic or corporeal literacy needed for mission planning, and address the global imperative for an innovative, interdisciplinary and culturally robust future. Resulting exhibitions, performances, publications, and media engagements from Performing Astronautics will ultimately reflect the courage of Australian art. •


Acknowledgements The ‘Performing Astronautics’ project is assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body. We are All Explorer Fish, 2016 was Co-­‐commissioned by Trondheim Electronic Arts Centre for Meta.Morf 2016 -­‐ Nice to be in orbit!

Sarah Jane Pell crouches and examines rocks in a still from We Are All Explorer Fish We are All Explorer Fish, 2016. Short film starring/Producer Sarah Jane Pell. Cinematographer Shaun Wilson -­‐ Still courtesy the artist, 2016

References [1] Armstrong, R. (2014) Space is an ecology for living in. Architectural Design, 84(6), 128-­‐133. [2] Bureaud, A. (2009) Kitsou Dubois and the Weightless Body. IEEE MultiMedia, 16(1), 4-­‐7.


[3] Bureaud, A., Dubois, K. (2005) The Embodiment of (Micro)Gravity. Kitsou Dubois’s Analogies: An Artistic and Aesthetic Experience, Proc. Yverdon Leonardo Space and the Arts Workshop, [online] available­‐2/te_kDuboisBureaud.php accessed 1 May 2017. [4] Garan, A. R. (2015) The Orbital Perspective: Lessons in Seeing the Big Picture from a Journey of 71 Million Miles. Berrett-­‐Koehler Publishers. [5] Garan, R. J., and J. A. Hoffman (2013) The Overview Effect: Freethink@Harvard, filmed 22 November,, accessed 15 March 2014. [6] Imhof, B., Hoheneder, W., Ransom, S., Waclavicek, R., Davenport, B., Weiss, P., ... & Hoppenbrouwers, T. (2015). Moonwalk-­‐Human Robot Collaboration Mission Scenarios and Simulations. In AIAA SPACE 2015 Conference and Exposition (p. 4531). [7] Marshall, J. (2005) The Art of Life Support, Real Time & On Screen, Vol 68, Aug/ Sep 2005, pp. 48. [8] Mueller, F.F & S.J. Pell (2016) Technology meets adventure: learnings from an earthquake-­‐interrupted Mt. Everest expedition, In Proceedings of the 2016 ACM International Joint Conference on Pervasive and Ubiquitous Computing (UbiComp ‘16). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 817-­‐828. [9] Pell, Sarah J. (2014) Aquabatics: a post-­‐turbulent performance in water, Performance Research,19(5), 98-­‐107, [10] Pell, Sarah J. & Muller, F. (2016) Homo Ludens: An analysis of play and performance during spaceflight to inspire the cultural sector to design for new modes of space and spatiality. In 67th International Astronautical Congress (IAC) Proceedings International Astronautical Federation (IAF) ID: IAC-­‐16-­‐E1.9.1. [11] Pitts, B. (2006) Against space utilization (cultural or otherwise), Art and the Cultural Utilization of Space Track of the 2006 International Space Development Conference Los Angeles, May 5, 2006 [online] available­‐space-­‐utilization-­‐cultural-­‐or-­‐otherwise/ accessed 1 May 2017. [12] Pothier, B. (2014). Towards a moister media, from aquaponics to multi-­‐ scalar navigation. Technoetic Arts, 12(1), 121-­‐129. [13] Seedhouse, E. (2016) How to Fly. In XCOR, Developing the Next Generation Spaceplane (pp. 149-­‐169). Springer International Publishing. [14] Streb, Elizabeth (2010) STREB: How to become an Extreme Action Hero, The Feminist Press, The City University, New York.


[15] Yaden, D. B., Iwry, J., Slack, K. J., Eiechstaedt, J. C., Zhao, Y., Vaillant, G. E., & Newberg, A. B. (2016) The overview effect: Awe and self-­‐transcendent experience in space flight. Psychology of Consciousness: Theory, Research, and Practice, 3(1), 1. [16] Warwick, K., Hendriks, A., Armstrong, R., & Pell, S. J. (2017) Space bodies. In Star Ark (pp. 341-­‐382). Springer International Publishing. [17] White, F. (1998) The overview effect: Space exploration and human evolution. AIAA. [18] Woods, A. (2013) Art to the Stars: an historical perspective of Space Art, May 26, 2013 [online] available accessed 1 May 2017. [19] [20] [21] [22] [23]

Dr Sarah Jane Pell Bio:

Sarah Jane Pell, Ph.D. is an Australia Council Fellow (Emerging & Experimental Arts), TED Fellow (US), Simulation Astronaut (EU) and Artist-­‐Astronaut Candidate (US) Her practice marries Aesthetics with Astronautics, Occupational Diving, HCI Design, Biotechnology, Body Performance and Exploration. She engages art and performance practices to disrupt thinking on the kinds of high-­‐ risk domains that can be innovated on. Project Partners have included: NASA, European Space Agency (ETTAS), SymbioticA (UWA), Exertion Games Lab (RMIT), International Space University, Singularity University, Atlantica Expeditions, Project PoSSUM and Project Moonwalk. Novel experiments, prototypes, live art events, films, publications, exhibitions, new business, policies and curiosities result.


Moving with My Nature Jade Dewi Tyas Tunggal

Painting of Jade Dewi and Jaia Dewi -­‐ Image Credit: Kyra Henley 2015

Opening: Dancing has a sense of searching; for belonging, for transcendence, for centring, for meaning and connection.To touch and be touched through an encounter with the world of land, sea, sky and cosmos. Observing the precious value of water in relation to environments, bodies, languages and gravity, I am mindful of the ebb and flow of my respiration and reflect on the powerful paths of least resistance. Dance as an art-­‐life practice occupies my moving cultural body. Daily explorations of embodied and self-­‐spirituality brings me closeness, participation


and relatedness. Seeking to understand balance in personal and communal life, I use the living measurements of my breathing body to calibrate spaces between myself, place and other. Sensing the survival of my spirit, I notice qualities of mind and find touching connections with the roots and roof of my ancestry. My imagination can play with symbols, myths and metaphors of my felt living and enliven sensory intuitive experiences as foundations for authentic storytelling. Perceptions of energy, water and gravity in Hindu and Buddhist dharma life values, Indigenous Australian Dreaming beliefs, esoteric Javanese spirituality and progressive somatic scientific research (including neurology, cognitive psychiatry, biochemistry, genetics and quantum physics inform my creativity. Universal ideas surrounding immense energetic networks of inter-­‐connectivity support my research in self determination, agency and presence. Concentrating on the interdependence of myself with others and place inspires a freedom to listen, respect and interact across different cultural beliefs and psychological languages. Head Centre Allows Space: Mind knows intellect and reason emerge from movement, then become conditioned and nurtured by movement. Slow time intimacy with felt senses can open awareness of living cellular presence. Imagination in movement becomes a source of spiritual transformation and development. Dance is a way in which the Javanese contrive to lodge powerful feelings to identify with their past and its heroes. From my experience of studying Classical Javanese dance in Yogyakarta, I have an appreciation for the role that dances and dancing play as devices for educating the Javanese in the proper conduct for a ceremonial life. My father is a direct descendant of Kangjeng Sultan Hamengku Buwana, the first Javanese Sultan of Yogyakarta, and I feel a great affinity with Javanese spirituality (Kejawen Kebatinan). I am fascinated by, and draw resonant inspiration from, the Gamelan Karawetan (gong orchestras), Wayang Kulit (puppet shadow theatre), Jamu (herbal medicine), Keris offerings (mystic daggers), Penchat Silat (martial arts), Seni Tari (art dance) and Java Candi (sacred stone architecture). I have greatest respect for the power of Gunung Merapi (fire mountain), one of the youngest and most active volcanoes in Indonesia! There is also significant energetic power at Parangtrirtis Pantai (Beach) where the queen of the south sea lives and devours lost fishermen and sailors. When we are opened to the energy source we can borrow energy. The energy is borrowed and not taken. This is an important way of being, because taking without giving creates an imbalance. It is more in balance with nature to borrow, because borrowing creates a natural cycle. The process of giving and receiving, is applied not only in meditation but also in traditional healing, honouring of ancestors, the relationship between people and nature and importantly in artistic expression. It is a way of relating to all things, to the entire world, both seen and unseen, both felt and beyond our normal senses.


The Indonesian art critic Atmadibrata characterizes the function of Javanese dance as a way of learning relations with the cosmos, ‘The dance developed in order to unite oneself with the hidden forces which control human beings and their environment.’[1] In my dancing, I experiment with an ancient way of seeing; where everything has soul and valuable interrelations. Researching the possibility of microscopic cellular human systems having interlocking connections with the ecosystems, weather systems and then further into the galactic universe intrigues and moves my cultural body. Perceiving the physical boundaries of self through an exploration of my own skin as a meeting place with the world through touch, I focus on breathing and the sensitivity of my skin whilst dancing. I am forever learning more about how to balance openness to the world and the world’s ability to consume me when I am unconsciously open to it. A Javanese expression for the mental state of a dancer is, ‘kothong nanging kebak’, empty yet full.

A dancer performs with open hands, her palms faced toward her -­‐ Photo Credit: Heidrun Lohr 2013

Heart Yields Personal Essence: Opening the heart centre to the world and finding compassion, we can sense the environment through grounding awareness, connecting to breathing and being conscious of intimate initiations of personal movement. Several years ago, my contribution in a performance project with Mirramu, Kiryuho and Bangarra dancers opened my experience of space as consciousness and all time living. We camped on the Yirrkala Rangi, a sacred beach significant


to the Yolgnu Morning Star song-­‐line. Listening and learning from the landscape and custodians of that heavenly saltwater/freshwater place, I observed being in a living creation story. Its shape-­‐shifting characters and narratives reflected the bright constellations dancing across the dark sky in the symbolically rich waters. Dancing the rhythmic movements of seagull, star, spirit, little bat and brolga on the soft white sand was like floating in golden stardust. The vivid intensities of that place are a different reality from living in regional NSW. The strong kinship laws, respect for elders and family/community ethics reminded me of being in Java. I have been adopted by the Marika family and my skin group is Galikali and clan Rirratjingu. My given name is Murukun. Meaning morning glory flower, I initially identified with this plant as a noxious weed, often banished during local Coastcare gatherings. Questions revealed the purple flower to be significant in the Morning Star ceremony as it blossoms with the morning light and recalls connections with Asian ancestral spirits. Murukun symbolizes listening to the land as the plant’s green vines hold the sand dunes together. I feel the heartache of the Yirrijta and Dhuwa custodians as their land and waters have been ravaged and poisoned by bauxite mining. Many sicknesses initiated by colonial governance continue to cause untimely death and destruction. The Yulngu continue with great heart to sing, dance and paint the patterns of environmental and cultural regeneration. The community is grieving and lamenting for the health and security of their sacred land, with so much sorry business to attend to. The notion of Aboriginal Dreamtime is a time out of time, a time hidden beyond and within the manifestation of the land and its flora and fauna, the earthly sleep, out of which the visible landscape continuously comes into presence. When walking and dancing in familiar and new places, I endeavor to tune into animate energies of the environment and become attentive to the elemental influences of the resting spirit ancestors. The experiential circular time of oral culture has the same shape as perceivable space. Time is experienced as the succession of seasons, the rotation of crops and migration of animals. Space too is known through circular trajectories that travel landscapes with wind directions, currents and tides, or in ceremonies as the sung repetitions of place names. Dawn and dusk frame my time on Earth in sure cycles -­‐ earth orbiting sun and moon orbiting earth during days, nights and years. I draw on social and ceremonial values of ‘dance as a cultural practice’ to unearth contemporary relevance for the traditional beliefs I embrace, to nurture experiencing truth and knowledge through perception. ‘Aboriginal peoples interpret awareness, or ‘mind’, not as a power that resides inside their heads, but rather a quality that they themselves are inside of, along with the other animals and the plants, the mountains and the cloud.’ [2] -­‐ David Abram


These principles guide my consideration, embodied exploration, observation, recollection and realisation whilst immersed in creative processes -­‐ being in nature, in the dance studio and performing. Body mind spirit techniques give me the permission to play and dance a healing and empowering experience of ‘being’.

A photo-­‐collage of a dancer with a sheet of white plastic, performing ‘Mermaid Tears’, indoors and outdoors

Belly Supports Essential Self: Visceral knowledge and wisdom from the belly centre. The body thorough dance is a place where visible and invisible entities weave physical with spiritual expression. Spiritual qualities of joy, wonder, wisdom, love and deep contentedness within infinite space.


As Human beings, we construct our moral identity by unifying our past, present and future. I am conscious of the journeys of my ancestors and their footprints on the planet. I feel the deep pain of loss and grieve for the health of our lands and oceans. I daily lament the declining quality of life of our ocean, rivers and other watery environments. I reflect on how there are similar conditions of the life of one persona and another with completely different cultural backgrounds. As despite these obvious differences certain aspects of emotions and spirit are the same. What is life? What is death? What is mourning and bereavement? My mother is seventh generation white Australian with Scottish, English and Viking blood lines. I was born in Awabakal country and now I live in Bundjalung country. I am most happy when exploring the places where the Australian land meets the South Pacific Ocean. I am fed by the elements that sustain these meeting places as mother with father connecting spaces. The beach is charged with cleansing energy that opens my heart to personal presence and respect for ancient air, stone and ash. The vibrations sweep through my soul spirit and awaken every cell in my body mind. Water supports and nourishes me. I love surfing the beach and point breaks, but of late my imagination of great white sharks has been keeping me out of deep water and instead playing in the shore dumps with my daughter. The environment is expansive and embracing of a diversity of possibilities and perspectives. There is a quality of infinite source and returning to the essential elements of being. All my life I have walked along the tide line and tide pools, of seemingly pristine beaches, searching for beautiful sea shells. Listening to the sound of the sea echoing in the hollow of the shells, I felt their value and returned them to the beach. Over the years, I have developed the practice of carrying a bucket to collect rubbish as I roam. In my lifetime, I have noticed remarkable increases in small pieces of plastic dotting the landscape, especially after intense storms and flooding. Whilst I endeavor to reuse and recycle when possible, I have immense guilt about the plastic bags, packaging and items we consume. New dance work floats on toxic tides: Previous choreography and performance works always include a considered convergence of bodies, space, materials, light, sound and audience. My most recent solo work, ‘Mermaid Tears’, is a moving lament for the trillions of tonnes of plastic rubbish destroying our oceans and waterways. The work premiered at the 2016 Artlands regional conference in Dubbo NSW. I recently performed this work in schools and cultural museums in Bali Indonesia. As an ongoing improvisation, I continue to challenge the personal philosophy, heart yearning and draw on the belly utterances I am writing about in this article. Floating on toxic tides, plastics quickly break apart despite taking hundreds of years to decompose. Large plastic pieces, including bags and bottles, may entangle or kill wildlife that consume them but micro-­‐plastics are insidious pollutants for all living things. ‘Mermaid Tears’ integrates solo dancer with plastic objects, music, audience and the site of the storytelling. Whilst searching for a place of belonging and


exploring the possibility of existing together, the dancer becomes aware of an ever-­‐present threat from the plastic objects and the changing circumstances of the situation. The performance is a cry for humanities loss of empathy for nature and our complex attachment/addiction to consuming plastics. Closing: Motivated by ecological and humanitarian issues my performance making practice situates my head, heart and belly centres in direct relationship with nature. Experiencing a flow of harmony and order inside my dancing (being), I also sense unknown forces, chaos and falling. Highlighting my interdependence with fragile ecosystems, I endeavor to appreciate and trust inter-­‐subjective experiences as consciousness. Connection happens through yielding communication and sincere compassion. My shifting creative experience reflects a flexible self-­‐concept that accepts fluid exchanges within a diversity of environments. Since touch unites my sensory and emotional feeling in a physical way, the details in what I see and hear resonate with my internal feelings. My felt life is as though I am ‘in touch’ with the energy of the world. When I dance, I feel most connected to everything in my internal and external life, to what can be seen and what is hidden. Movement evokes a sense of mental, physical, emotional and creative play with the myths and metaphors of my life. Opening out towards the world and returning into myself, I dance to feel my aqueous contact and connection with the vast human narrative. • References: [1] Suryobrongto. The Classical Yogyanese Dance. Yogyakarta: Lembaga Bahasa Nasional Tjabang, 1970. [2] Abram, David. The Spell of the Sensuous. New York: Vintage Books, Random House, 1996.

Jade Dewi Tyas Tunggal Bio

Jade Dewi Tyas Tunggal is a Javanese Australian dancer, choreographer and teacher. Worldwide dance studies led to freelancing with diverse companies and unique artists. Inspired by travel, architecture, film, music, choreographic and somatic practices Jade returned to Australia to achieve a Master of Choreography (High Distinction) from Victorian College of the Arts. Jade makes solo and ensemble performances during international choreographic,residencies, global inter-­‐arts projects, dance company and tertiary dance commissions, and intensive cultural exchanges in remote communities. Researching resonance, rhythm and tone in space, movement, sound, touch and light, she endeavors to tell stories of isolated cultural bodies finding transformations with seen and unseen forces.