rock on, canberra

Dang, homies, I have so much to blog. But that’s the deal when you’re busy – plenty to blog about, no time to do the actual blogging.
Since my last post, I have come to Canberra and been at the CSAA conference where I gave my paper to what amounted to a bunch of my friends. There were some rockingly good parallel sessions, including some terribly cool ones on computers. Dance sounds really naff in the program (and that’s what it was called – ‘Dance’. Mmm, appealing. And in the final session of the conference no less). There were 3 of us presenting, then an assortment of our mates and one guy* who I suspect wandered in by accident (and actually ended up having all 3 of us presenters address a few ideas and comments to his paper in the preceding (and absolutely world-rocking) session which was called something like ‘Asian – the UnAustralian?’). I don’t think he was ready for 3 dance nerds on speed, feeling the love and ready to Give Cooperative Paper.
We three are always in the same session, even though we don’t really work on the same material. It’s like when you have ‘women’ in your thesis title – you’re popped in the gender studies department. But with us, when you have ‘dance’ in your title, you’re popped in the dance session. Even when you’re not really talking about dance so much as the relationship between online and embodied networks.
Ah well. We enjoy ourselves more and more each year. And this year I felt so comfortable with this crew (as did the other 2), I could direct particular points to the other presenters or ask them questions mid-paper. Not cool, in the world of ‘serious’ ackadackas, but far more fun. I think I break the ackadacka paper presentation rules every time I present. Too many dance clips. Too much fun. Too much to say. I’m also adverse to using impenetrable ackadacka language, so I’m sure I come off sounding ignorant. Or at least misinformed. I do write papers and intend to read them, verbatim, but I can never resist adding in comments. Especially when I’m showing clips.
In other conference news, it was really nice to catch up with old Brisvegas buddies. Shout out to the Gunders, Laurie Townsville, Sue, Andrea and everyone else – the sorts of people who feel comfortable in shorts and thongs and aren’t afraid to show it… though admittedly, Sue’s would be uber-chic, and not the Kmart variety.
I also developed a smarting crush on one of the Sydney pgrads (my lips are sealed)**, and my deep and abiding love for John Frow… abides. I was not the only one to admit to a serious crush on that tall, unusual and enduringly shy hawty acka. I am also smitten by (or should that be with?) Larissa Barendt: two top key note talks (missed all the others, and have heard mixed reports about them. Sorry I missed the unusual European with fascinating body language – the dancers on-crew gave very excellent reviews).
Tomorrow I do the cultural studies in dance seminar. It’s not as well organised as the CSAA doo, so I’m not feeling terribly confident. Also, there are a few too many concert dance types in the schedule, so…
I’ve been haranguing KLK about high and low culture and why the only option for me (as a cultural studies stooge), really, is to look at vernacular dance.
Meanwhile, we’re watching Back to the Future on telly, discussing our teenage years (during which this film was released), eating chocolate and sending each other to the kitchen for cups of tea.
I pay particular attention to Michael J Fox’s sneakers – the sort of adidas that are tres chic with the kids today.
Rock on Canberra.
*He was on my list of conference-crushes, actually. Dang he gave good paper.
**Unfortunately, all my crushes are for people’s brains. All my physical desires are reserved for The Squeeze. Because he gives good chop-and-freckle.

7 Replies to “rock on, canberra”

  1. I don’t think I met Dominique, Zoe… though I did meet a Dom at the dance conference. Was that the Dom of which you speak?
    I’m shit with names, though. I can remember people’s whole thesis topics and papers, but names…? Nope.

  2. Yes, he’s a boy Dominique, studying masked corroborrees in the North West and a thoroughly lovely chap, who showed me some of “Hellzapoppin” yesterday which improved my workday no end!

  3. Yes! I met Dominique at the dance conference! His work looked really interesting – stuff on taking anthropological film footage of aboriginal dance back to the communities where they were filmed. It was very interesting, and I’m sorry we didn’t get to talk more about it in the session.
    …and yay for Hellzapoppin’!
    A quick search on youtube revealed a bit of footage from the film as well as people learning the routine (where half the leads are women!):

  4. Heyya, just been reading some of your blog, stuff on cool and hot. Sorry I didn’t have the chance to talk more at the conference either. I think the way you torpedoed the spiritual is an important issue to get out there. Me I’m for the use of that term but I wouldn’t use it to diminish the richness in the way people experience life without the need for such a loaded term. I love your body centred discourse… and I just wrote to Rachel that it is your conversation and passion for dance that’s gotta open the gap between the professional and vernacular in dance writing.
    Thanks Zoe for pointing me to this excellent site.

  5. Hi Dom, and nice to hear from you. Thanks for the kind words, also.
    Re that thing about spirituality. I’ve been mulling over that ever since it came up in the session.
    Firstly, I regretted not thinking more carefully before I spoke – I could have been more diplomatic (I was just caught up in things). That dood was obviously offended. I would have apologised to him, but I think it would have made it worse.
    Secondly, my rejection of the term ‘spiritual’ to desribe the way you feel at that moment in dance is kind of complex. Personally, I’m very un-religious, so I don’t feel comfortable with that sort of language. At all.
    The Melbourne swing dance scene has also had a fairly high proportion of very politically conservative christian types (whose discourse makes me cringe), many of whom would be very uncomfortable with talking about that moment in dance as spiritual (though many who wouldn’t). There’s also an ongoing depolitical (is that a word?) sentiment with many dancers who argue that “it’s just dancing” (and so we shouldn’t discuss gender or class or any of those things), which is very _much_ politicised. To raise issues of spirituality or religion with those types… hm. Not so cool.
    The relationship between the religious/spiritual and and sectarian in African American dance is very fraught (much fraught? shrug) – there was often a clear distinction made between religious song and dance (I have some neat references describing this), and of course, there’s much written on the musical relationship between gospel/church music and blues/jazz/soul music.
    In addition, at that moment in that session, I was beginning to get very frustrated with the whole performance/concert/theatre dance emphasis of the day. There was this ongoing, under-the-surface theme of dance-as-art, and then, necessarily the dancer-as-artist which plugged into the high/low art divide which makes me so cranky. I’d much rather position dance as an accessible, everyday _vernacular_ discourse. It has elements of performance and art and so on. But when we see dance as vernacular, and ‘the dancer’ as more than just ‘highly skilled professional’ or ‘gifted/spiritual artist’, we make dance accessible – something for everyone. We put it back in everyday spaces, we make it _useful_. And of course, we can start thinking about the issues of power and class and ideology at work in the whole low/high culture discourse.
    All up, though, I don’t mind how people think of their selves and of dance – spiritual, sexual, athletic, political, whatever. Dance is a discourse, is a series of texts, of textual relationships. So its meaning is endlessly diverse and varied.
    I would be wary of describing ‘all’ of those big emotive feelings as ‘spiritual’. But I would certainly make the point that if dancers are using this language, there is some interesting stuff going on.
    [edit] There’s an interesting discussion on ‘chemistry on the dance floor’ (which sounds a lot like the things we were discussing) on the Swing Talk board here:;act=ST;f=1;t=4644;st=0

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