Reading: Ingo Diehl, Friederike Lampert – Dance Techniques 2010: Tanzplan Germany

This is an intimidatingly large, shocking pink, hardcover object (with 2 DVDs!), that wielded even with an absence of technique would spell the end of many promising dance careers; dropped from standing, it would cause serious bruising, swearing, and possibly metatarsal fractures. A good contribution to dance, then.

Which I acquired because Dasniya was talking about it, I went into St George’s and got distracted by a YouTube party (“You dancin’?”, “You askin’?”) and collected it last night on my biking way east. I think mostly I bought it because of the section on Anouk van Dyke’s Countertechnique, and the accompanying DVD of this; I mean, let’s be honest here, if contemporary dance in north-central europe in 2010 means Cunningham, Limon and other grandparent-aged ideas about dancing and training, we’re all fucked.

There’s lots of photos of people (students; mostly young women – which also says something about contemporary dance), doing side-tilts, Cunningham curves, side-tilts with leg swings, all of that rather rigid and fossilised conurbation of approaches to dance that … well, thankfully there wasn’t a section on Martha Graham or I’d be using the book to kindle a fire under Uferstudios. Anouk was – in my late-night skimming through – the only person to reference choreographers from the last twenty or so years, which unsurprisingly showed in the pictures of her class, where people looked like they were actually given the privilege of inhabiting their bodies and experiencing dancing, rather than rigor mortis paddle hands, hanging on to the air in desperation. I’m being unduly harsh, yes. Perhaps.

I find the idea that these old techniques are necessary, can teach someone anything about how to dance ‘contemporary dance’, is a symptom of the colonialism in this artform. Even though anecdotes aren’t evidence, there was a dancer in the Guangdong Modern Dance Company who had only done Chinese traditional dance before joining, and he was astounding, and yes, there are always exceptions (I greet your anecdote with inane aphorism), and there’s an obvious point of contention in why I might think this of contemporary dance training techniques, but simultaneously think ballet is all-round useful, and I haven’t even read the book yet. I expect I’ll skim a lot. Anouk interests me at the moment because I don’t know much about her, and I’ve been piecing together ideas of how to train in specific ways in order to move in other specific ways, so perhaps she’ll be useful. Perhaps also I’ll say something different once I begin reading it properly.


“Indeed, cousine, I should rather you were a since…

“Indeed, cousine, I should rather you were a sincere Satanist than a pretend one; for the former recognizes God’s majesty, and may be reformed, while the latter is an atheist, and doomed to the Lake of Fire.”

The Confusion, Volume Two of The Baroque Cycle, Neal Stephenson

sunday tranny-blogging (and spitting in china)

What is it about Sundays that seem to cause a blog upwelling of a more cerebral nature than during the week? My drinking of coffee for the first time in several days? A general Sunday laziness facilitating interestingness? Or was it the dream I had last night in which several bloggers (most of whom I’ve never met, some I don’t even know what they look like) starred along with Monica Bellucci (she can be explained by the superb Agents Secrets I watched last night, with utterly glorious use of wide-screen cinematography, mesmerising editing, and a plot equal to the best of any in the genre) as a fire fighter, thus impelling said bloggers to write the kind of post I go, “ooooh, makes you think, doesn’t it?”, and promptly reblog it.

Firstly from the Tranny Bloggers Social Club from last night’s dream comes Miss K, who is having coke and vodka fuelled weirdness of her own, populated with Pakistani taxi drivers and slobbery blue hungry ghosts, “a strange collection of jointed sticks covered roughly in a misshapen piece of tarpaulin … a small mouth, with blue, cherubic lips fringed by slightly longer fur that rippled slowly in the direction of the mouth, like the fronds of an anemone. The lips had a pronounced underbite, so that a set of pointy, conical white teeth jutted out in front.”

Other tranny bloggers who I recall with certainty made an appearance last night, but neglected to amuse me with writing anything today include Becky and Becca, possible appearances from Helen Boyd, and Siobhan Curran.

Completely departing the trannysphere, but staying by implication with gender (or sex, fuck, I dunno, whichever one is currently ‘nature’ and not ‘culture’) and Data supports a non-invasive prenatal genetic testing. While I can appreciate the immense benefit in being able to diagnose severe genetically caused defects, and yay for that, I also think this: Imagine a technology that among other things allowed early detection of a bunch of chromosomal abnormalities that directly affected what’s between your legs, and consequently – because what is implicit in such testing is the ability to act on the results – the abortion of any bearers of such defects. Inasmuch as there is a genetic diversity that is currently described as ‘abnormal’ so too is there a cultural response that is equally abnormal, and perhaps accompanying such research with some kickarse medical ethics aimed squarely at educating the population that abnormal does not necessarily equal bad would be pertinent right about now.

Barista was not at my somnolent shindig last night but thinks the Tang Dynasty poem Ballad of Mulan is pretty special. Barista also got all emotional about Tintin’s cars, and as someone who grew up with the boy reporter and Captain Haddock, I’m suddenly feeling like spending the afternoon with Hergé and a kilo of Belgian chocolate would be quite pleasant.

花崗齋雜記 Jottings from the Granite Studio was definitely present last night too, but nothing links this blog to those uncouth British crossdressers, so I have absolutely no idea what (singular) they were doing, The Useless Tree also, so I suspect something Taoist in all this. Taoist fire fighters maybe? Anyway, public manners and spitting in Modern China and the anti-spitting campaign of 1950-something (along with the Great Leap Forward, this social experiment also was not so successful).

Finally, Gender identity disorder cases on rise in Bihar. In my academic/research/dangerously curious moments, I wonder whether such a title can be taken literally, and so represents on a broader scale a measurable increase in all types of gender weirdness. Certainly plenty of fish and frogs are getting in on the fun. Of course it could all be a coming out of the shadows caused by the complementary influence of better medical treatment, drugs and surgery, the monumental effect of the internet in distributing information and building communities, and a broader societal shift which Becky (and I’m closing the loop here) summarises as TG Sells.

pestilence – a crypto-history of the black plague

Amidst all this grant-writing that is seriously damaging my eyes – colours and objects are permanently dimmer and intangible after each successive submission – I’ve managed to fit in a great slab of research. Yay for internet, saviour of humanity, etc. The heading pretty much says it all, pestilence is the next work in the cycle following hell and extermination, in short, more of the same.

pestilence is something of a choreographed crypto-history of the Black Plague during the Age of Reason in Europe and in the late 19th Century in southern China. I mean crypto-history not in the erroneous sense of historical revisionism, rather in the sense of hidden and secret, in that the traces of a cataclysmic event remain on both the bodies of the victims and on the society long after the trail of destruction has passed

Underlying this is a historical investigation into the manifestations of disease and sickness in human bodies, the medicalisation of bodies, and treatments of illness in both European and Cantonese culture of these eras. From this follows cultural responses to disease, including the pantheon of plague gods, plague festivals and rituals in Guangdong Province, the demarcation of public space in 17th Century European urban areas, and contemporary continental philosophical analysis in the writings of Michel Foucault and Jean Baudrillard.

My research yesterday gave me a repeated experience of “waah! awesome!”, a bit like a sneezing attack, and started with a fairly innocuous visit to The Chinese Museum in Melbourne. I’m continuing all the Cantonese Opera study that I started in hell, and still have no idea how it’s going to be entangles in whatever I do, but … it’s like a Cantonese Gothic and has an attraction to me the way the Baroque and Grotesque does. From there I stumbled upon 大金山金龙博物馆 Golden Dragon Museum in Bendigo, with a whole temple full of old dragons. So a trip to Bendigo is planned.

Staying in Canton, I was looking for the annual Cantonese Opera Festival that I thought took place in Maoming, but I discovered one in Foshan that seems of equally huge size. I came across the festival and a rather extensive English language section on the Opera on the 佛山市博物馆 Foshan Museum’s website, there’s no link to it on any of the main pages, so: Cantonese opera in Foshan, including 86 pages of 11360 operas. They also have a collection of over 300 opera movies. Yes I will be going to Foshan when I go back to Guangzhou.

A couple of other good resources I fell into include Chinese Heritage of Australian Federation and Columbia University’s Asia for Educators, and Universität Bielefeld’s BieSON, where I found a bunch of papers relating to my current favourite thing, 瘟神 Plague Gods.

From there it was back over to Europe, where I’m still searching for the equivalent. There’s plenty of gory Eastern Alps mayhem that’s hanging over from the Middle Ages, like Krampus, and other demon-resembling paganism, so I’m fairly sure what I’m looking for, a riot of berserk, plague-crazed villagers wrapping themselves in the blood of slain cows and performing ritualised obscene acts till their inflamed buboes pop, is certainly to be found in the mountains of Switzerland and Austria.

waah! pain! eye sting lah!

I’m in what I fondly refer to as grant-writing hell. Somehow out of desperation I’m in the middle of six pending applications and another four loitering around the back of the bike shed. It’s been 10 hour days in front of my laptop all week and my eyes are completely blown apart, like the ones in Bladerunner. So, I’m not sure how much blogging is going to happen in the next few days, weeks, years. But the research is getting me all excited, Taoist Plague Demon rituals, creepy Eastern Alps pagan festivals, all the usual stuff.

more on the Small Arts Sector Research Project

A couple of days ago I wrote about the new Small Arts Sector Research Project the Arts Industry Australia (Victoria) are involved in and Deloitte who are conducting the research. I missed the meeting this morning, so I can’t say much about that, but they have announced a survey as a part of the project to conduct research into the size and nature of the state’s arts sector, with a particular focus on small unfunded organisations.

As much as I want to be really supportive of any projects that could benefit the eviscerated state of small arts groups in Melbourne and Victoria, there is a lurking nemesis in me who remains unimpressed and can’t fathom why research is again being conducted. Australia Council has a junkies habit for blowing large wads of money on reports; when I was at VCA the same thing seemed to be occurring, and now this, in which I am trying to think happy thoughts but reading the first question of the survey, I went “meh…”

Is your organisation’s average revenue from all sources more than $3 million annually? If your organisation has been around for less than 1 year, please answer based the projected annual revenue.

Look, I might be a bit slow, but “based the projected annual revenue” I have this niggly suspicion isn’t well-formed English, and possibly missing an “on”, but doilooklikeliknow?. Perhaps it’s just my irrational hatred of apostrophe-death in “your” for “you’re” that is spurring my language fascism, but if you’re getting government funding at least make the sentence legible, especially if the survey is specifically aiming at organisations where English isn’t a first language.

“The results of this study will inform future policy and funding decisions. So the (questionnaire) represents a golden opportunity for small arts organisations to have a say.”

I was about to go through some of the questions wherein providing a meaningful answer is precluded by the suppositions of the survey itself, but realised I was about to get waspish, and really without daily chocolate I do get a bit psychotic. So, please go and fill out the survey now. It is open for the ridiculously short time of one week from today, so unless you have no life like myself and hoover up announcements in a facile pretense of purpose you probably won’t hear about it until some time mid-2000-and-x when the results get published and wtf?!? when did they do this survey? is your considered response.

To save everyone time though I have done my own esteemed and peer-assessed research and can give the results forthwith: The answer to the question of “the issues facing small arts communities” is money. Money money money money. Can I say it any more clearer? We need more money! Unless the results of these surveys cause vast tides of currency to flow into art – not edifices or administration but new art made by artists – … arranging the deckchairs on the Titanic springs to mind. Must … have … money … …

An anecdote: The only time I have ever been in a situation making dance that could not be solved by throwing more money at it was funnily enough in China, where at 6:1 exchange rate, I could throw quite considerable piles of Chairman Mao’s mug at any impediment I might encounter. I have never had that giddy experience in Australia.


Small Arts Sector Research Project

For all the independent artists around in Melbourne this Friday, the Arts Industry Council (Victoria) has announced this meeting. Please RSVP to

Arts Industry Council (Victoria)

– the independent voice for the arts


Small Arts Sector Research Project

Please distribute through your networks!!

You are invited to an industry networking meeting for a briefing on the Small Arts Sector Research Project.

Briefing by project staff from Deloittes, commissioned by Arts Victoria

10am – 12 noon, Friday, 1st December
Hoopla! Room, Malthouse Theatre,
Sturt Street, SOUTHBANK


AIC(V) has been pushing for research into the small arts sector for many years and now Arts Victoria has commissioned Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu to conduct research into the small arts sector, focussing on small organisations. Small arts organisations play a critical role in the cultural vitality of Victoria.

Learn more about the project
Does the research include me?
Learn how you can contribute to this research
Time is of the essence, as the research is being conducted now – to be finalised BEFORE THE END OF THE YEAR

AIC(V) are hoping that this research will provide key information about the size and nature of small arts organisations and other organisations with arts activity across the state.

“This research aims to determine the scale of the entire small arts sector, not just the funded sector, and to better understand the characteristics of small arts organisations across Victoria including the extent of their activity, the people involved, and their contribution to the state.

The results of this study will inform future policy and funding decisions. So the research represents a golden opportunity for small arts organisations to have a say.

The study’s success hinges on the participation of all small arts organisations in Victoria and involves the completion of a basic questionnaire by small arts organisations.

The research aims to cover the full spectrum of Small Arts organisations across all art forms, those who currently receive Government support, those who operate independently and those who may need support in the future. To plan for the future we need to have a clear understanding of the issues facing small arts communities.”


Kath Papas,
On behalf of the Board, AIC(V)

berkeley china initiative

I’m not sure how much I’ll be blogging in the next week as things get mental with crush. In the meantime I’m trying to make myself a better person by reading a lot, and as usual it’s mostly about China.

“The concept of the Berkeley China Initiative is China writ large,” Gold says. “It’s an effort to raise the profile of China studies on campus in all departments, disciplines, and professional schools. Some people might think, well, this is just a social-science project, but it’s not. The arts, the humanities, and history are as deeply integrated as the social sciences and the professional schools. We’re as interested in ancient history and oracle bones as we are in the People’s Liberation Army and contemporary popular culture, and inequality and environmental issues.”

— UC Berkeley News

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