SAM Seminar: ‘Conceptual’ approaches across Dance and the Contemporary Arts since the 1960s

When:9 Apr 2019, 3:30pm - 5pm
Venue:Cinema 327, Robert Webster Building
Who:Dr. Erin Brannigan (UNSW)


‘Conceptual’ approaches across Dance and the Contemporary Arts since the 1960s

My current research considers the role of contemporary dance innovations amongst some of the major aesthetic shifts in contemporary art since the 1950s. The third wave dance avant-garde, emerging in Europe in the early 1990s, has been described variously as ‘Conceptual Dance,’ ‘Non-Dance,’ and ‘Post-Dance’ by artists and commentators. This paper considers connections between this recent activity and the earlier Conceptual Art period in America through texts on ‘concept’ and ‘conceptual’ art by composer Henry Flynt and artist Sol LeWitt, both written in the 1960s. Affinities between this historic period of Conceptual Art and the second wave dance avant-garde associated with Judson Dance Theater (1962-1964) complicate the ‘minimalist’ reading of the experimental dance work of that period, and suggest continuities between the historic and recent periods of experimentation in dance regarding their negotiation of the concept-material bind. Peter Osborne’s recent definition of post-conceptual art suggests that contemporary dance played a role in the historical development and emergence of both conceptual and post-conceptual tendencies in art.

Photo details: Sarah Michelson, Devotion Study #1—The American Dancer, 2012. Performance view, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, February 26, 2012. Nicole Mannarino. Photo: Paula Court.

Dr. Erin Brannigan is Senior Lecturer in Theatre and Performance Studies at the University of New South Wales. Erin wrote on dance for RealTime arts magazine from 1997-2018, and her publications include Dancefilm: Choreography and the Moving Image (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011), Bodies of Thought: 12 Australian Choreographers, co-edited with Virginia Baxter (Kent Town: Wakefield Press, 2014), and several book chapters. She has published articles in journals such as Performance Philosophy, Senses of Cinema, Writings on Dance, Dance Research Journal, Performance Paradigm, Broadsheet, Runway and International Journal of Performance Arts and Digital Media.

Her current research projects are After Rauschenberg – Composition: Movement: Experiment (with choreographers Matthew Day and Lizzie Thomson), New Paradigms for Performance Pedagogies (with Dr. Bryoni Trezise) and Dancing Sydney : mapping movements : performing histories (with Dr. Julie-Anne Long and Dr. Amanda Card).

SAM Seminar Series

This series provides a showcase and forum for local as well as international scholars, researchers, industry practitioners and creative artists – ranging from early-career to well-established – to present on their work. No need to book, all welcome.

Coming next:
Week 2, Term 2 - Tuesday 11 June
More info coming soon. 

Find out more and see the full program.
Enquiries contact: SAM Seminar Convenor, John Attridge –

Finding us
Robert Webster Building is located mid-way off the UNSW main walkway. Map Reference G14. Cinema 327 is located on the third floor.

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Supported by UNSW Creative Practice Lab

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