24 January 2022 15:06

Virtual conference proves dance in digital spaces is here to stay

A reflection on Dance and Dance Education in an Age of Interconnectivity.

Over the course of two days on Friday 21 and Saturday 22 January, RAD Australia did what many others have done during the global COVID-19 pandemic and shifted the focus online for our fourth international conference.

Dance and Dance Education in an Age of Interconnectivity saw a wide range of presentations explore the concept of dance in digital spaces, with the conference itself delivered online for the first time in Australia. Enjoying the benefits of flexibility with a live, recorded, and on-demand experience, attendees and presenters took part from around the world.

What we learned through the experience is that it’s a brave undertaking to venture online with something which naturally sits in the physical realm. It can be a steep learning curve, particularly relating to the seamless use of platforms and adapting language, methodology, and expectations but it’s a world we are all learning to navigate together.

We observed presentations recounting how new and existing communities were formed in this space; how exposure, opportunity, and reach grew in unexpected ways; those virtual spaces give us the chance to be more inclusive and increase access, but with a word of caution that it may also come with constraints including equitable access to technology and improving digital literacy for teachers still hurdles to overcome.

We were inspired and uplifted by new opportunities born in these digital spaces such as Ballet Unleashed, an initiative creating professional film works with choreographers and graduate dancers around the globe. We were invited into their process to enjoy the outcome of a global collaborative project with the screening of Cathy Marston’s film Switchback, as well as getting a glimpse behind the scenes of the creative journey, as we were live in the studio for a new work called Inklings with New Zealand based choreographer Loughlan Prior.

The two-day programme was immensely stimulating and enlightening and provokes us to reflect that in a digital world, dance continues to be our joy, our lifeline, our purpose for interaction and education, and our medium to work creatively.

Dance in digital spaces is here to stay, as we navigate a future both physically and virtually interconnected.

With thanks to our generous sponsors