Practice-based PhD
RMIT University, School of Architecture & Design

 

I come to the School of Architecture & Design, RMIT University from the disciplines of dance, choreography and performance. My practice is performance. In previous projects, text and movement have combined to create performance and perhaps, a persona. I want to further this enquiry, to develop my understanding of how and why to intertwine moving with speaking, to ask what does that perform, and for whom? In my dance practice I’ve been working with two intertwined lines of writing-for-performance: autobiography, and myth. 

As a dancer and as a person, my work and life has been from the start “profoundly embattled and troubled by the complexities and blind-spots of cultural belonging.” (Bergvall) In this creative practice-based research doctoral project I want to use this in-depth opportunity to take stock, to move and speak about ‘belonging’ to contribute more broadly to what’s at stake in the politics of identity and what in New Materialism conference (VCA, 2015) was termed, “the politics of hope”. This speaking dancer proposes a series of creative practice research experiments assembled and unravelled through this particular body and voice – my body; the speaking dancer prioritises intensities of movement aligned with autobiographical performance, contemporary practices and ‘in-residence’ to create an ethnographic, artistic and potentially philosophical praxis, that finds methods and voice(s) to claim movement as belonging, language as territory. 

As I have sought out a place in the School of Architecture and Design, RMIT University it is to this field that I seek to make a contribution. I experience moving and speaking, dancing, performing as exposing. I am not using autobiography here to reveal private matters publicly, rather exposing as what Meg Stuart terms “taking the urgency of the moment as one’s intention”. In this practice-based research project I am proposing to generate performative situations created through the layering of autobiography, myth and philosophy to enable myself to be witnessed entering and inhabiting unstable places. I am interested in the kinds of connections instability can produce; of finding structures and vocabularies that enable ‘belonging’ in relation to form, environment and, temporary communities. 

Performance research is an evolving and significant strand in Architecture and Design, and it is to this strand of experimental practice and thinking that the speaking dancer seeks to make a contribution. My dance practice invites me to continuously and rigorously expand my range beyond my comfort zone and I connect that expansion to the un/comfort zones that I have experienced and/or have imagined ‘belonging’ to be. Ultimately I think the contribution the speaking dancer can make to this field is to expose herself verbally and non-verbally, in situations that attempt to turn weaknesses into strategies.