My work is concerned with developing ideas towards an ecology of dance. Though I am not directly researching through practice, I am using performed material and direct contact with choreographers like Rosemary Lee and Jonathan Burrows as primary material, as well as my own projects to aid investigations. This presentation looks at the idea of presence in contemporary dance performance, linking it to the uncovering of a ‘rawer sense of self’ (Rosemary Lee). In such a wide field as contemporary dance my work is located within somatic practice and looks at the body as a singularity of performative presence in dynamic relationship with an emerging environment. Presence will be linked to the somatosensory contribution to self and I will refer to current work in neuroscience, particularly though not exclusively Antonio Damasio, concerned with the role of action understanding in a sense of self and other. I shall provide opportunity to see clips from three dance works to demonstrate and provide further focus for discussion of the ideas offered. There will also be a practical exercise or two – I hasten to re-assure you that you will not be asked to ‘dance’. I will finish by outlining a forthcoming collaboration to create a new dance work for public performance with full time dance students at Chichester University and the creative concerns arising in using this as evidence in my work.
My name is Alan Duffield and I am in the second year of my work in the Department of Drama and Theatre, with Dr Libby Worth as my supervisor. The working title of my thesis is Towards an Ecology of Dance. I have completed a working lifetime in performance education in schools, colleges, and as director of an arts centre linked to advisory support in Drama in Education. I have been concerned with what is termed physical theatre throughout my working life. My initial training was at Goldsmiths in the pioneer days of drama in education and my own work in this area has always been linked to issues of gender, race and class. I have continued to study throughout my life and in 2009 took the Physical Theatre MA at Royal Holloway. It is from this work, looking at the location of meaning in the dancing body, that my current research has developed. I am fortunate to be able to undertake this research in what has come to be termed the ‘third age’.
Alan Duffield. Cert Ed (Drama in Education. Goldsmiths. 1963-66) B.A. (English Literature. Hatfield) M.A. (Sociology of Literature. Essex) M.A. (Post Compulsory and Adult Education. Southampton) M.A. (Physical Theatre and Performance. Royal Holloway).