Carol Brown announced as the new Head of VCA Dance

Carol Brown has been announced as the new Head of VCA Dance at the University of Melbourne’s Faculty of Fine Arts and Music. The internationally-established creative research scholar, academic and professional choreographer will take up the new position of Professor in Dance in mid-2019.

The appointment of Brown, who is currently Associate Professor in Dance Studies at the University of Auckland, follows a global search for a new Head of the discipline following the decision of long-term Head Associate Professor Jenny Kinder to step down in late 2018.

VCA Director Professor Jon Cattapan said Brown’s appointment had brought him “enormous pleasure”.

“Carol joins the University as a full Professor in our Faculty. She will start from mid-year but will be making a number of short visits to begin foundational conversations before commencing in the role properly. Carol is an artist and academic of the highest calibre and her contribution to our Faculty, and the onward development of Australian dance, will be tremendous.”

Carol Brown, Sur Sur, Museo Arte Contemporaneo, Santiago, Chile, 2017. By Dominique Goujon.

Originally trained in Bodenwieser methods with Shona Dunlop-MacTavish in Dunedin, Brown completed a history honours degree at the University of Otago before specialising in Dance Studies, completing an MA and one of the first practice-led doctorates in the UK at the University of Surrey. Carol was appointed Choreographer in Residence at the Place Theatre London after presenting her PhD solo The Mechanics of Fluids in Resolution.

She described her appointment to the VCA as “a real honour and a privilege”.

“I relish the opportunity to build upon the rich history of Dance at the VCA, to catalyse and grow this environment as the place for dance education, research and critical creative practice in Australia, to make an internationally recognised centre of excellence.

“I see it as opening new experiences and textures of feeling, as expanding my choreographic thinking and track record as an artistic director into a leadership role for dance education and research. I am excited by the potential space this opens to energise critically aware dancing, to empower students to be ready for the complexity of a world that is changing, to exercise agile thinking in addressing the aesthetic, poetic and political demands of the present.

“In moving from Aotearoa New Zealand to Australia, it is also an opportunity to realign perspectives and affirm connections, building relations to place through facilitating new opportunities for dancers and fostering links to creative arts communities locally and internationally.”

Carol Brown, Acts of Becoming, NGV 2017. By Gregory Lorenzutti.

Brown’s choreographies take multiple forms as installations, inter-media events and site-specific performances, and have been presented internationally, including at Roma Europa, Dance Umbrella and the Brighton Festival. She has been commissioned to create work for Scottish Dance Theatre, Verve, Subcircle, Group Motion, Touch Compass, STRUT and DanceXchange.

“I have spent many years developing my craft as a choreographer and an inter-disciplinary artist, working across a range of art forms and through diverse collaborations with dancers,” she said. “I have also worked in different University-based dance programs internationally and have built opportunities to foster creative dance research practice in the academy. I see VCA Dance as the ideal environment for me to bring these two things together, building relations with the dance industry in tandem with cultivating a place for dance as research through advanced embodied enquiry.

“Experience has given me the courage to trust in what the body knows, and the intelligence to augment this potential through dances that pulse in and out of time with the present. I would be happy if students were able to realise their expressive potential, to give something back to the world with daring generosity and for dance researchers to engage in worldly conversations that transform the way we think and perceive. In these strange and troubling times, I perceive an urgent need to cultivate awareness through the enactment of fearless creativity and the sensuous articulation of knowledge.”

2018 marked 40 years of VCA Dance, with celebrations, alumni reunions, specially-commissioned new works and artists’ talks at the University of Melbourne’s Southbank campus.

“This is an exciting time,” said Brown. “There is so much scope to build upon the rich and vibrant history of VCA Dance, to cultivate inter-disciplinary collaborations, to explore dance agency within multiple sites and situations, including through digital tools and ecological thinking; to foster inter-cultural conversations and to learn from Australian dance histories.”

Faculty Dean Professor Barry Conyngham said Brown’s appointment signals a new era for VCA Dance. “As one of the cornerstone programs of the VCA, Dance has been, and will continue to be, an important area at our Faculty, and we will continue to support it in the strongest terms. We look forward to building upon the terrific history of this discipline with the arrival of our new Head of Dance, Professor Carol Brown.”

Banner image: Carol Brown, Drumwheel, From Scratch, Te Uru Gallery, Auckland Arts Festival 2018. By Samuel Richards.