Posts Tagged ‘university’

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.

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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 🙂

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