In this interview Rosalind Crisp discusses the nature and evolution of her creative practice of choreographic improvisation; her teaching and performance practices; and her view of the broader implications of dance. Crisp describes how her work has evolved from questioning dance itself to addressing broader world issues. Returning to Australia from France, and facing the “vanishing” of many species there, led to Crisp’s current multi-disciplinary performance project DIRt (Dance IN Regional disaster zones), which is her creative response to and engagement with Australia’s extinction crisis.
This interview is part of a three year project (2021-2024) entitled “Improvisation as choreographic, authorial and creative principle”, a collaboration between Czech dance artist Mirka Eliášová (Dance Faculty, Prague Academy of Performing Arts), Czech theatre artist Mish Rais (Drama Faculty, Prague Academy of Arts) and British dance artist Lizzy Le Quesne (Centre for Dance Research, Coventry University). The project involves in-depth interviews, in-studio workshops with professional and student dance artists, multiple publications, and a forthcoming book of interviews and commentary in both Czech and English. The project explores the practices and methodologies of a series of international artists working in different ways with improvisational processes. Rosalind Crisp was the first of these; Independent Dance has featured Crisp’s work at events including WinLabs and weekend workshops, while Lizzy LeQuesne has been a regular leader of Morning Class at ID.
This interview was conducted through the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague, with the support of the DKR Institutional Endowment (Long-term Conceptual Development of Research Institutes) as provided by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports of the Czech Republic in 2022.
ID has chosen to make only minor formatting edits to this interview as submitted, to allow the artist’s voice to be heard fully and to offer a direct transmission of the conversation.
DIRtywork project: https://www.omeodance.com/dirt
Rosalind Crisp was born in Omeo (East Gippsland), Australia, started ballet in Bairnsdale, went on to Melbourne to study classical and contemporary dance at Victorian Ballet School.
After working (mostly unpaid) as a dancer with various choreographers for fifteen years, in 1996 she established the Omeo Dance studio in Sydney as a place for her choreographic research. The studio became a home for the experimental dance scene in Sydney for ten years. From her first solo show in 1995, she has created a substantial body of original work and remains one of a handful of mature, consistently practicing, Australian dance artists.
In 2002 Rosalind was invited to Paris by Michel Caserta, director of the Biennale de danse du Val-de-Marne, and subsequently invited by Carolyn Carlson to become Associate Artist of the Atelier de Paris-Carolyn Carlson. During ten years as Associate Artist, the Atelier managed and toured Rosalind’s work throughout France and Europe.
On her return to East Gippsland in 2013, Rosalind was shocked to find that the ancient forests she grew up in, from Orbost to Omeo, had been logged. This visceral experience of Australia’s continuing colonial destruction of this country, began to infiltrate her dancing. She created The Boom Project in collaboration with Helen Herbertson and Ben Cobham (Dance Massive, Melbourne 2015). In 2017 Rosalind initiated DIRt (Dance In Regional disaster zones), inviting artists and ecologists to meet in Orbost and explore how dance and collaborative arts practice might respond to the unfolding extinction crisis.
In 2020 in response to COVID-19 Rosalind created the organisation the Orbost Studio for Dance Research, (with Omeo Dance and associate artists) hosting a remote regional artist-in-residence program, supported by the Federal government’s RISE Fund.
Mirka Eliášová PhD is a dancer, improvisor, dance maker and pedagogue. She creates authorial choreographic projects; teaches in the Dance department at the Academy of Arts (HAMU) in Prague; and also works with children’s dance.
Lizzy Le Quesne MAR is a somatic dance artist – choreographer, performer, teacher. Her work is focused in processes of embodied becoming, and in the relationship between somatics, dance, agency and political thinking. She teaches Skinner Releasing Technique (SRT) internationally to professional dancers, in dance academies, and with the community in arts and health. She is currently pursuing a practice-based PhD at Coventry University on an AHRC M4C scholarship.
Mish Rais PhD is a performer, author, dramaturg, researcher and pedagogue. She creates authorial performances as part of Částečné znejistění (Partial Uncertainty) and cooperates with CreWcollective on various authorial and interdisciplinary projects. She teaches in the drama department of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague (DAMU), at the department of Authorial Creativity and Pedagogy, where she is the Head of the Authorial Acting BA/MA Program.