I acknowledge all First Peoples of this land and their enduring connection to Country. Their's is a connection that goes deeper and further back in time than any connection to the Australian landscape I can personally experience or reference in my research and art.
The dance practices, still images and footage mentioned and presented through Inhabitance were developed and collected along the coast of the Gadabanud land of the Gunditjmara people, the mountains of the Gunaikurnai people and the land of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin nation.
Inhabitance began as the creative outcome of my BFA (Honours) research in 2021. Throughout my life, I’ve been fortunate to spend a lot of time in natural places. I wanted to forge a dance practice that collided with my love of being surrounded by beautiful landscapes. Through creative inquiry and a lot of collaboration with some wonderful dancers I developed two modes of site-conditioned movement practices: HikeDance and MemoryDance. HikeDance became the process behind the Inhabitance I-V dancefilms and, in 2022, MemoryDance became the engine for the live performance of Inhabitance VI at Out of Bounds (facilitated by Lucy Guerin Inc. & Temperance Hall).
These practices and films extend beyond pleasure and leisure, reaching out to join discussions about the climate crisis and the urgent need to be gentler to our beautiful, wild, delicate, natural world.
As I began my research I was fuelled by questions about the relationship between people and their immediate landscapes:
Does the topography of the landscape in which you grow up affect the development of your muscle patterns, and by extension, your body language? Do the shapes and colours of the local flora influence your subconscious aesthetic preferences?
How do I approach a sense of belonging to the landscape I grew up in when it's steeped in the Australian history of stolen land?
Why do I find a sense of belonging to the Irish landscape - a place I have visited often but with which I have no strong ancestral ties?
These questions feed my ongoing inquiry.
In a time where the climate emergency is increasing, and created between lockdowns that forced us to become more isolated from the natural world, Inhabitance I-V serves to remind us of the power of immersion in nature to re-vitalise and inspire. Inhabitance now takes the form of an ongoing, evolving project that has the capacity to continue for as long as it feeds into conversations and thoughtfulness regarding our treatment of the natural world.
The Oxford English Dictionary marks 'inhabitance' as an archaic word but defines it as "a habitation, abode, dwelling." This work is not about the dancers presiding over the landscape, but rather dwelling on their presence in such places and noticing the sensorial stimuli they receive physically from being there. In some ways, through this attention, the places inhabit the dancers.
Inhabitance I, II & III were filmed in the Victorian High Plains, at Dinner Plain and on the Razorback Ridge on Gunaikurnai Land.
Inhabitance IV & V were filmed at Johanna Beach along the Great Ocean Road in south west Victoria on Gadabanud Land.
Inhabitance VI was created and performed in Naarm/Melbourne on Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung land.
“The silence of landscape conceals vast presence. Place is not simply location. A place is a profound individuality. Its surface texture of grass and stone is blessed by rain, wind and light. With complete attention landscape celebrates the liturgy of the seasons... The shape of a landscape is an ancient and silent form of consciousness. Mountains are huge contemplatives. Rivers and streams offer voice; they are the tears of the earth’s joy and despair. The earth is full of soul.” - John O'Donohue, Anam Cara