Macquarie University
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Dance-making: moment-to-moment collaboration in contemporary dance practices

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posted on 2022-03-28, 14:54 authored by Emily Gilfillan
Collaboration is inherent in group creative process. Given this inherent collaboration, an examination of the interactions between dance-makers, dancers, other creatives, and context, in this thesis will put forward a new theory: the notion of moment-to-moment collaboration. Located at the intersection between psychological and organisational behaviour research into group creativity, and dance studies, this thesis will reveal the collaborative events in-process that result in dance works. This is achieved through a grounded, and discourse, analysis of two case studies involving professional dance-making groups practicing in Australia’s independent dance sector. In Part 1, focus is given to the exchanges in power that enable the development of, and performance of, a dance work. Active power is exchanged between members of a dance-making group, enabling the development and/or performance of a dance work in-process. As a result of this focus on the exchanges in power that occur, the notions of serendipitous and erroneous entailments (creative developments), conflict, play, and negotiation are examined to reveal the nuances of moment-to-moment collaboration. Alongside this examination of exchanges in power, the overarching group and process structures, and the professional dance-making contexts in which each case study process occurs, are explored in Part 2. As professional processes are working towards a public performance/installation dance work, and participants are presumed to embody codifications concerning professional behaviour that are entrained through past practice, it is critical to examine dance-making in context. The motivations to develop professional dance works, and have a career in a particular dance sector(s), inform behaviours in dance-making, and subsequently why and how power is exchanged to ensure the development of dance works. The notion of moment-to-moment collaboration discussed in Part 1 is extended here in the light of context in order to reveal how expectations for process and group structure, professionalism and sector conditions inform moment-to-moment collaborations.


Table of Contents

Introduction -- Chapter 1. Understanding dance-making in the context of creativity discourses : a review of the literature -- Chapter 2. Research methodology -- Part 1. Micro-relationship structures : active/passive power exchanges in dance-making. Chapter 3. Open investigation : improvisation, tasking and active/active power exchanges Chapter 4. Developing detail : entailments and the development of complexity in concepts and movement Chapter 5. Developing rigor in dance works : negotiating micro- and macro-conflicts in dance-making practices -- Part 2. Expectations and context : moment-to-moment collaboration in Australia’s independent dance sector. Chapter 6. Overarching power exchanges : expectations surrounding process, group structure and participant roles Chapter 7. Contexts surrounding dance-making : choice, complicity and Australia’s independent dance sector -- Conclusion -- References -- Appendix.


Bibliography: pages 323-337 Theoretical thesis.

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


PhD, Macquarie University, Faculty of Arts, Department of Media, Music, Communication and Cultural Studies

Department, Centre or School

Department of Media, Music, Communication and Cultural Studies

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Guy Morrow


Copyright Emily Gilfillan 2016. Copyright disclaimer:






1 online resource (xvi, 352 pages) illustrations

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