How Dance is Analyzed and Re-Imagined in Diverse Settings




Meghna Bhardwaj

Ph.D. Candidate, School of Arts and Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University

Delhi, India


This paper comments on the usage of the term ‘Contemporary’ being attributed to certain performance practices and practitioners in the Indian context. By observing the choreographic processes of three Indian artists, namely Navtej Johar, Padmini Chettur, and Jayachandran Palazhy, the paper intends to bring out how evoking the term ‘Contemporary’ entails drawing attention to ‘liminality’ between process and outcome, tradition and modernity, past and present, local and global, and dance and life. The attempt is to locate the ‘Contemporary’ in the self-reflexive ways of inquiring body and movement on the part of these artists, more than in the final work that is performed, at the same time refraining from ‘classifying’ the choreographic process or dance as contemporary in a-particular way.


Meghna Bhardwaj is a Phd candidate at the School of Arts and Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi. Currently, in the final stage of her dissertation writing, Bhardwaj is working on the idea of ‘Contemporaneity’ in dance in the Indian context. She is also a dancer, trained in Ballet, Modern, and Contemporary techniques. She has extensively participated in WDA events including Taipedia, Taiwan, 2011; Henan ADF, China 2014; and Choreolab and Symposium, Singapore, 2015. Recently, she had an opportunity to present a paper and participate in the sessions of Choreography and Corporeality Working Group at IFTR Conference, Stockholm, 2016.

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“Robe,” Mary Williford-Shade (Texas Woman’s University), Photographer Jesse Scroggins





Ali Duffy

Ph.D. Candidate, Texas Woman’s University, Denton, Texas

Associate Professor Texas Tech University

Lubbock, Texas, USA


This essay examines how American history is construed through the social, political, and aesthetic values of six women choreographers – three working in the early 20th century (Isadora Duncan, Martha Graham, and Jane Dudley) and three working in the early 21st century (Liz Lerman, Jawole Willa Jo Zoller, and Pat Graney). These choreographers’ artistic practices in relation to institutional contexts are gleaned to historically and culturally contextualize early 20th and early 21st century dance making practices. Further, a continuity through particular points in history of the ways artistic processes and practices shift in response to the needs of communities and the requirements of funding and producing organizations is illustrated.


Ali Duffy is a doctoral candidate at Texas Woman’s University, and holds an MFA in Choreography form UNC Greensboro and a BA in Dance from UNC Charlotte. She is also an Associate Professor and Graduate Director of Dance at Texas Tech University and the Artistic Director of Flatlands Dance Theatre. She was awarded the UNC Charlotte Distinguished Alumni Award, the Texas Tech University New Faculty Award, was inducted into the prestigious Teaching Academy, and has received multiple grants to present her creative and scholarly research throughout the United States. Professor Duffy also performs internationally and receives commissions for residencies with universities and professional companies.

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Luke Aaron Forbes

Independent Scholar

M.A. Tanzwissenschaft, Zentrum für Zeitgenössischen Tanz, Hochschule für Musik und Tanz Köln, Cologne,

                          Germany, 2013-2015


A YouTube video depicting the Indigenous Australian dance group Djuki Mala’s breakthrough performance, Zorba the Greek Yolngu Style, set to an electronic remix of the Greek folkloristic song, Zorba’s Dance, drew attention to cultural production in a remote region of Australia. This seminal performance became the cornerstone of the dancers’ successful and ongoing international stage career. In order to retrace the Djuki Mala’s trajectory since their emergence online, this paper reviews the Djuki Mala’s critical reception in various contexts, in particular news media. The sources also include video recordings and publicity material featuring the Djuki Mala on and off stage. It is shown how the performers creatively and choreographically navigate neocolonial impasses and stereotypes through self-representation and a self-reflexive dance practice. However, in contrast to this assertion of subjectivity in performance, the Djuki Mala are predominantly appreciated through a prism of obsolete and dissonant notions of culture that continue to circulate in Australian dance discourse. These culture concepts contribute to the discursive reduction of Indigenous Australian dancers’ performances to prescriptive and generic markers of difference. It is proposed that such discussions of the Djuki Mala also have a tangible effect on their dance productions.


Luke Aaron Forbes studied dance at the V.C.A.S.S., Melbourne, Australia, and the Ecole-Atelier Rudra-Béjart, Lausanne, Switzerland. Following his dance training he performed professionally with the Ballett Dortmund and Aalto Ballett Theater Essen in Germany. He then resumed his studies at the HfMT Köln, Cologne, Germany, graduating with an MA Dance Studies in 2015. He contributes regularly to dance magazines and participated in the 2015 Aerowaves Europe Springback Academy mentorship programme for dance writers. His paper on modern dancer Yvonne Georgi will appear in a forthcoming German Dance Archives Cologne publication. He recently presented elements of his research on modern and contemporary dance in Australia at the 8th Annual Seminar of the Bielefeld Graduate School in History and Sociology.

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“Two Tutus” by Erin Bailey and Jessica Hale (Texas Woman’s University), Photography by Jesse Scroggins
“Two Tutus” by Erin Bailey and Jessica Hale (Texas Woman’s University), Photography by Jesse Scroggins





Ilana Morgan

M.A. and Ph.D. in Dance, Texas Woman’s University,

Denton, Texas, USA


Young adults in university settings are experiencing a shifting world in which many aspects of their lives exist in online spaces and more information is shared through social media environments than ever before. Although educators and university initiatives are focused on delivering instruction and knowledge via online platforms, there is a need to understand more clearly the experiential phenomena of existing and interacting in a world that is a hybrid of face-to-face and computing interactions. This idea is increasingly important for dance education as online experiences become more integrated with the body and personal identity. This article presents the findings of a study that investigated the ways in which undergraduate female dance students describe their educative, dance, and internet experiences as moving, touching, and connecting with others. Interview data are analyzed in relationship with established posthuman and embodied cognition theories that question the interrelatedness of internet technology and the sensing body. An important implication of this paper is that an increased understanding of the technological experiences of undergraduate dance students provides educators with an opportunity to imagine new ways in which identity, knowledge, and the body are merging, blooming, and expanding through technological assist. This information will ultimately affect the ways in which we comprehend who we are teaching in dance departments at the collegiate level and the multiple places in which they reside, create, and become.


Ilana Morgan, PhD, is an Assistant Professor and Coordinator of the BA in Dance with Teacher Certification at Texas Woman’s University. She is the Director of TWU’s Community Dance Center, which provides dance classes for local Denton community members. Dr. Morgan’s research investigates how social media is a kinesthetic and sensorial experience for many and how definitions of movement, the body, and education—in a world that is increasingly a hybrid of technological and face-to-face experience—are changing in relationship to new internet interactions. Her research pulls from overlapping theoretical areas such as feminist theories, posthumanism, dance studies, popular culture, and education. Dr. Morgan’s choreographic works blend the boundaries between human, computer, and image by means of film, installations, and traditional stage performance.

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Juliette O’Brien

Ph.D. in Musicology at the University of Hong Kong Performance Studies from the University of Manchester, United Kingdom


Many dances today exist as global trans-local urban matrices in which specific practice examples interact with the matrix as a whole. The degree of variation between examples, both in terms of movement and conceptuality, reflect significantly upon the nature of the dance phenomena that umbrellas the matrix; however, the nature and scope of this variety is unique in each case. Using phenomenological and ethnographic methods, this paper will examine examples from the global salsa matrix. It will begin by briefly establishing the core of salsa: what defines the dance, then examine the ways in which the dance is flexible, how it varies in different locale, and what this suggests about both the specific examples and the form as a whole. It will show how viewing dances as matrices provides unique insights into both the parts and the whole.



Juliette completed her Ph.D. in Musicology at the University of Hong Kong looking at dance as a form of musicality. She has a Masters in Performance Studies from the University of Manchester. An experienced dancer, her work uses participant observation and ethnography to develop descriptive methods to study dance phenomena. She views dance forms as global trans-local and historical matrices, the examination of which informs understanding of specific examples and the whole. In exploring her theories and methods she has made close studies of salsa and Bharatanatyam. She has presented papers at conferences of the WDA, ICTM and IMS.

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Min Zhu

Ph.D. candidate, Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts

Edith Cowan University, Western Australia


The aim of this paper is to investigate the potential influence and applicability of the Daoist notion of Wu-wei (taking no action) and the motion principle of Tai Ji Quan on contemporary improvisation through a reflection on personal creative practice. This approach emphasizes that improvising with qi, the psycho-physical flow, is therefore expected to stimulate spontaneity in improvisation, as well as to achieve integration of the body and mind, action and doing.


Min Zhu is a dancer, movement teacher, and performer, who worked for the Department of Dance at Beijing Normal University and currently is a PhD candidate at Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts in Edith Cowan University. Her research project is to investigate the nature and characteristics of contemporary Chinese dance including the comparative analysis of content and form of contemporary Chinese and Western dance.  As a practitioner, she explores the boundary and intersection of contemporary performance through improvised performance. Her latest interest is to apply Tai Ji philosophy and Tai Ji Quan to contemporary movement training for performers and performing makers.

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