“Dancing between dual perspectives: a life in arts and academia.”
As a foundation student at Flinders I had the privilege of enjoying the excitement of being at the beginning of a dynamic and progressive university, brimming with innovative and even radical ideas.
They were heady days: meeting the Queen Mother, hiding pacifists in the Religious Centre during the height of the Vietnam War and becoming politicised, discovering modern dance at a performance of early Australian Dance Theatre in the new theatre and getting hooked forever, performing in satirical revues with my friends.
But what has stayed with me over those 50 years is a unique gift that broadened my horizons in surprising ways, informing my dual careers in dance and academia. This gift required reading 50 of the world’s most influential books; from Plato to Shakespeare, from The Communist Manifesto and Nordic myths to Patrick White.
My first degree was in languages and literature where the excellence of the teaching and depth of scholarship ensured I continue to speak fluent French, indispensable in my recent project as convenor of the 2014 World Dance Alliance Global Summit in France, for which I am Secretary General. My Golden Age Spanish came in very handy when I was asked to co-direct Fuenteovejuna for the Melbourne Festival – my intimate knowledge of such an obscure play surprised my theatre colleagues!
Above all, these early tertiary studies taught me the value of acquiring an embedded knowledge and appreciation of cultural diversity and how it influences, challenges and enriches our world views.
Such a formative education has allowed me to travel to over 40 countries with my two careers; the first 30 years as a professional dancer, choreographer and director where my love for Vietnam resulted in a doctorate combining dance and intercultural perspectives, to a 15 year academic career at QUT as Head of Dance and latterly in research training as Creative Industries Faculty Director of Postgraduate Studies. Sharing my experiences with students, colleagues and artists in both professional and community contexts around the world is an honour and a joy.
Thank you Flinders!