Dancers

photo: Jon Green

AIMS TO REFINE A CODE OF ASSESSMENT FOR POSTGRADUATE RESEARCH STUDIES IN DANCE IN AUSTRALIA ENCOMPASSING THE TWO PRIMARY MODES OF INVESTIGATION, WRITTEN AND MULTI-MODAL THESES, THEIR DISTINCTIVENESS AND THEIR POTENTIAL INTERPLAY

FOREWORD

When the Australian Learning and Teaching Council accepted our dance-oriented proposal dancing between diversity and consistency, my colleagues and I were astounded. That initial valuing and subsequent support of our potential input as dancers to higher degree assessment cannot be under-estimated. More than the studied details of recommendations presented in this ‘guidelines for best practice’ and the perplexities of moving between multiple bodies and their voices, it is that act of faith in our capacity to contribute to the practices of learning and teaching that stands as an exemplar of the inclusive energies circulating in education that are meaningful and enduring. On this level, our debt to ALTC is a future to be repaid in dancing, literally and metaphorically.

We set out to consider multiplicities, to take into account the perspectives of networks in which professional aspirations intersect with academia. If dance knowledge/s were to be valued, we knew we had to enlist the support of many sectors: dance academics who practise and write, research assistants who understood the intersections of those two modalities, as well as the Tertiary Dance Council of Australia (TDCA), the Australian Dance Council (Ausdance), and affiliated international associations like the World Dance Alliance Asia-Pacific Chapter (WDAAP). Additionally, we engaged two experts in the field, Associate Professor Allyson Holbrook (education research) and Professor Susan Melrose (UK specialist in multi-modal degrees). Such a diversity of possible perspectives may not augur well for the desired consistency of the project, but the range delivered a variety of responses to illuminate and complicate what might be our current position on assessment of higher degrees in dance.

What is crucial to emphasise in the recommendations and discussions that follow is that we offer a view from a particular moment in time, condensed perspectives that relate to the ‘now’, but are offered with a consciousness that the whole question of knowledge, especially at the higher degree level, is dynamic. Discovery dances: that is its purpose. I am indebted my colleagues, to those who supported, gave willingly of their time and contributed so much positive energy to this project. People’s generosity suggests that there will be bountiful diversity fused with consistency within acts of evaluation and affirmation to come. Maggi Phillips December 2008