About this time last year, a wonderful gentleman from The Australian Ballet named Colin Peasley welcomed me to the Sydney Opera House to watch the company behind the scenes. I spent three hours or so talking to him, and watching the dancers in class and rehearsal. And whilst I did not know it at the time, I was watching Darcey Bussell from the Royal Ballet conducting the class – more here. Twelve months on, it is time for me to take stock of what continues to motivate me to do research into professional ballet dancers. Since motivation is the theme of my study, it stands to reason that I should examine my own changing circumstances.
Posts Tagged ‘ethnography’
Posted in Anthropology, Ballet, Dance, Guest Post, Motivation, Research, The Australian Ballet, tagged anthropology, Australia, classical ballet, collaboration, culture, ethnography, motivation, postgraduate, professional ballet dancer, research, The Australian Ballet on December 13, 2012 | 1 Comment »
Posted in Anthropology, Ballet, Blogs, Dance, Research, The Australian Ballet, tagged anthropology, Australia, ballet, classical ballet, culture, dance, ethnography, postgraduate, professional ballet dancer, research, The Australian Ballet, university on August 25, 2012 | 6 Comments »
A reader recently asked me how I developed my interest in ballet. It is not that I ever danced when I was younger, so why the sudden interest? The answer I gave him has reminded me how much I have missed out on by only now discovering the joy of dance. Last year, I took some absolute beginner ballet classes and really loved it. Unfortunately I have left it a bit late in life and my co-ordination is not up to taking my dancing seriously.
But that is not the end of my interest since my research will enable me to live vicariously through the dancing of others. Here is a version of how I answered the reader who I mentioned earlier.
My interest in ballet, is a fortunate amalgamation of two interests. I have been a subscriber to The Australian Ballet for a number of years and have seen every performance of theirs’ in this time. I have very much enjoyed it. However, it took on a far more interesting turn when I decided I could blend this interest with my other love, cultural anthropology. As a very mature age student, I received an honours degree in anthropology in 2004 and started tutoring undergrad courses in the subject. All this time I was looking for a cultural setting I could research for a postgrad degree. After a number of false starts looking at topics that led to little interest on my part, it occurred to me the middle of last year that I could study professional ballet dancers as a cultural group. I started doing a lot of reading and working through social networking groups and this blog and discovered that as a cultural grouping, professional dancers in general have not received the attention they deserve from ethnographic research. By this I mean, a great deal can be learned from spending an extended period of time observing and interacting with dancers in an extended fieldwork setting. With this in mind I have contacted local full time ballet companies and I am looking at others overseas.
Since this blog is about cultural anthropology as much as it is about dance, I thought readers may be interested in this video of my favourite lecturer talking about studying anthropology at a university Open Day. You won’t find any mention of dance, but you will hear Greg talking about what anthropologists do and why they do it. He also talks about some of the specialist areas that his department members research. It is my desire to use such an approach to research what motivates professional ballet dancers. As Greg says towards the end of the presentation:
“Anthropologists are the off-road vehicles of the social science world.” We take theory and try to see what is really happening out there, and not just on the eight-lane super highway of science or the safe parking lot of the psychology laboratory or the city grid of surveys in sociology.
Posted in Anthropology, Ballet, Culture, Motivation, Questions for my readers, Research, tagged anthropology, ballet, classical ballet, culture, dance, ethnography, professional ballet dancers, research on June 30, 2012 | 3 Comments »
I am still making slow progress with finding a company that will agree to me conducting fieldwork. I have received rejections from two ballet companies regarding fieldwork with them. I still have two more proposals outstanding with other companies but I am having trouble making contact with the persons who may be able to approve me spending four to six months with their company of dancers. So far I have only tried ballet companies in Australia and New Zealand. There are any number overseas that I could consider but they would need to be English speaking since the degree I am considering has no time available to learn another language. Do any of my readers have any thoughts on the matter? Is anyone willing to suggest this proposal to their company? If so, contact me and we will chat. Research overseas will cost a lot more in expenses, so if anyone is aware of any scholarships that may support such research I would be very interested.
UPDATE: Mike Barnes – Fieldwork Proposal document. This proposal mentions the first half of 2013, but it may have to slip to the second half at this late stage.
Posted in Anthropology, Ballet, Culture, Motivation, Questions for my readers, tagged anthropology, ballet, classical ballet, culture, dance, ethnography, professional ballet dancers, research on April 2, 2012 | 5 Comments »
Just a quick update to let my readers know that I received a rejection letter today regarding fieldwork at the ballet company I applied to. It is back to the drawing board. I need to consider if I am willing to try this with another company. There are others in Australia and there are any number of overseas companies that I could consider. Do you have any thoughts on the matter? Is anyone reading willing to suggest this to their company? If so, contact me and we will chat. For now, I will start finding out a bit more about some other companies.
UPDATE: Mike Barnes – Fieldwork Proposal document.
IMPORTANT UPDATE: My circumstances have changed with plans for fieldwork hitting a wall. Please see this later post.
Posted in Anthropology, Ballet, Dance, tagged anthropology, ballet, classical ballet, degree, ethnography, postgraduate, professional ballet dancer, research, university on March 18, 2012 | 1 Comment »
I feel I should write something just to let readers know that I am still busy working on this project. A week ago I sent a proposal to a ballet company seeking approval to conduct fieldwork (ethnography) with their dancers next year. Subject to gaining that, I need to put together a far more detailed research proposal for an application to enter into a postgraduate research degree. I have almost finished reading some popular journals on dance in Australia and now need to start on the five books I have got out of the university library. These books are more academic and look mostly at the anthropology of topics including ballet, dance and the body.
The popular journals have tended to talk about performances and have some interviews with dancers. Whilst this material is useful, I need far more detailed information. I guess that is why I need to do fieldwork
Are you a dancer interested in participating in research or an anthropologist interested in ballet or dance?
Posted in Anthropology, Ballet, Classical Ballet, Dance, Questions for my readers, tagged anthropology, Australia, ballet, classical ballet, culture, dance, ethnography, Mike Barnes, motivation, postgraduate, research on September 18, 2011 | 2 Comments »
“How do professional ballet dancers accommodate shifts in motivation through a lifetime of change, success and disappointment?”
I am looking for dancers and others who are interested in helping with my research. I am also interested in hearing from academics with an interest in dance. In the “Participation” box in the right hand menu you will find links to posts that ask questions you may wish to comment on.