In July the ECR Community held a half-day event on the eve of Panpapanpalya Joint Dance Congress in Adelaide, Australia. We asked participant and fellow dance ECR, Peter Cook, to share some of his reflections of the event.
Coming together with fellow Early Career Dance Researchers in Adelaide, as the pre-event for Panpapanpalya 2018, was an embodied stroke of genius. Organising the opportunity to begin pivotal conversations and engage in valuable networking with like-minded colleagues from around the world set the scene for a productive event. The themes of the joint congress perfectly framed the week.
Dance: reminders of our essences, our entries and exits, refining and defining identities in Dance. Nourishing as artists, as researchers, as educators and as colleagues.
Starting the event, we were asked to unsettle the environment and move. Even though it was only a move of locations we altered and (re)established ourselves and each other, physically. The task was to find someone we did not know previously meet, greet, engage and then be prepared to report back on our new colleague’s significant contributions and reasonings behind attending the event. Given the international cast it was easy to find a new and unfamiliar colleague and provided the ground work for networking. My new buddy and I continued to introduce each other to attendees on behalf of one another, as our identities familiarised, and the network grew.
Gathering: it always becomes a wonderful catalyst for growth to engage in sharing with like-minded researchers and to experience constructive exploration of ideas with openness and safety.
The program allowed and facilitated our networking opportunities by constantly interplaying the roles of audience and participant. Groups discussed resourcing and aspirational concepts of communicating amongst ourselves and our stakeholders. Despite being an intimate group, we established strong conversations and then transferred our knowledges to a new group as we transitioned to new colleagues. The world café activity continued the theme of moving as we established strong conversations and then transferred our knowledges to a new group.
Generations: we are beginners, experts, leaders but novices, so many roles to consider.
Generating ideas as an early career researcher opened up consideration of mixed career stages often apparent for dance researchers. We often develop into the role of researchers after establishing other careers and transitioning into academia from varying points. The strength of this meeting was the intergenerational presence. It was a theme within the congress and continued to refute the popular views that a dancer’s life is short. Having representation from varied generations is satisfying, affirming and motivating. It reminds us that dancers also have a voice and that voice has a past and a future. And it is loud and informed, and it collates, creates and disseminates knowledge through powerful paradigms. And sometimes the voice is heard in and through movement. The common language of this congress.
Learning: Sharing stories and experiences supports us to move smoothly on the continuum from teacher to learner and the myriad of places (in)between.
The assembled panel generously offered their stories both, highs and lows. They shared their stories autoethnographically and provided insights into their worlds, practices and understandings and extended this into the possibilities for our success. Perhaps my favourite concept and key take away was provided by Mabingo, who incidentally tried to convince me that Uganda was a suburb of Auckland. His thought resonated through the congress and reminded me of the many identities that form who we are in this early (or is it previous) career. The teacher, the learner, the choreographer, the administrator, the advocate, the researcher, the writer, the leader, the follower, the colleague and the dancer. “You just have to turn up”. Thanks, Mabingo, I am glad I did and will continue to do so.
Peter J. Cook is a Lecturer in The Arts at Southern Cross University, in the School of Education. His PhD is titled Understanding the choreographic presence in an artful, digital Dance education. You can find out more about his research here.