Next Monday marks a one month anniversary of arrival in Melbourne. It’s hard to believe that a month has come to pass – a waxing and a waning – a whole moon cycle. I feel that I have landed – although from time to time I pinch myself and shout (silently) ‘I am in Melbourne!’ I remember doing that in London for the first three years – mainly when I saw a red bus rumble past I’d remember ‘oh, that’s right, I’m in London’. It’s easy to forget which city I’ve woken up in and after a while, they’re not all that different – it’s not like being in a village in rural Sri Lanka for example, where you’re reminded all the time how different worlds within the world can be. But here the people I see could well be Londoners and my life is not so different and I’m more-or-less doing the same things I used to do there – going into a University – living in a house with electricity and running water – seeing friends – swimming in pools – road trips – dancing – la la la.
Of course from another perspective, there are some huge paradigm-shifting differences between here and there. Some of them are: waiting fifteen minutes for a train!! (This is why everyone drives here). Having a front garden and a back garden to call our own. That spontaneous meetings with friends is not entirely out of the question. That I’m doing a PhD or as I see it, being an artist full time for three years. That I live with my parents. That when it’s 18 degrees people complain of the cold. That the evening news always features a koala / crocodile / shark story.
Setting up a movement practice, finding my tribe(s), protecting space, reading, writing, inventing tasks / scores / projects, eating well, walking / running / yoga are the main foci of my life.
I did a practice with Dianne Reid this morning. Dianne is in her 3rd year of PhD at Deakin University and her research centres around Motion Capture – she works mainly in screendance. I met Dianne last year when I was in Melbourne and she has done alot of work with Andrew Morrish – so we have that good foundation for practice in common. I went into the studio in Deakin this morning to share dancing time and space with her. The studios at Deakin really remind me of Roehampton – they’re clean and bright, with views to the trees. One thing about being in School of A&D is I realise how much of a home a dance studio is. How much of a resource. How much I take its presence in my life, in this world for granted . It is of course quite an elite space. The information guy who I was asking directions was quite taken aback when I asked him where the main dance studio in Building B was. I had to shout the word ‘dance’ ‘dance’ over and over until he understood the word – but he seemed shocked to realise that such a thing as dance even existed at that University. I felt like a Light Bender (that’s an official job title you know).
Last night I went to a reading group called Centre for Logos. It is run by Mammad Aidani – a philosopher. He even looks like a philosopher and talks like a philosopher. He gets so excited by concepts – it was almost comic. We are reading together ‘The Phenomonology of Perception’ by Merleau-Ponty and it is wonderful to be with other dancers / artists and grappling or as Mammad puts it ‘dwelling’ in philosophy.
It’s not like I’m beginning from scratch. In fact I have a huge safety net here, much wider, much stronger, much broader than I ever imagined. Also, I’ve travelled alot and I have so many skills and tools of navigation. I know where I belong and I go there directly. It took me two years to discover the contact improvisation community in London, here it took me two weeks. And of course, the imminent PhD is a frame or as the Taoists might call it ‘A Way’ that helps enormously to make me feel that I’m doing something worthwhile from the outset. On that end, it officially begins next week with a module called Creative Practice Research Methods led by Pia Ednie-Brown.
Of course I’m rolling into my first class from a road trip to Airey’s Inlet. An old friend of mine who lives 1/4 of the year in Jaipur, India, 1/4 of the year in Ubud, Bali and 1/2 of the year in Castlemaine, Australia is coming in for the Castlemaine Writers Festival. We’re going on a Thelma and Louise styled road trip to hear her friend and extraordinary author of ‘Tracks’ Robyn Davidson speak at a Literary Salon. I agreed to it when she told me ‘oh no it’s not so far from Melbourne, you’ll easily make your 12.45pm class on Thursday.’ Unsurprisingly it is a 2 hour drive! But it’s too late now and, when in Australia …