Performance Studies: Mapping the transnational dance education of Anita Ardell
Mapping the transnational dance education of Anita Ardell
Abstract: This paper offers the bones of another chapter in a book called Nobody’s Muse: the dancing women of Australian modernism, 1920-1960. It explores the complicated history of Anita Ardell. In Ardell’s early dance training we see the impact of world conflict and the rise of nationalisms which created, to quote Michelle Clayton (2014): “swarming bodies in real or virtual transit” that produced “new maps of cultural modernity” (p.24). I trace a few of these maps to post WWII Australia, where Ardell accumulated a complicated gestural repertoire from her encounters with dance from India, Austria, Africa, the Caribbean and the United States, in Brisbane, Sydney, London, Paris, Rome and Tel Aviv. This history of transnational dance influence was later consumed by the amnesic requirements of a nationalist rhetoric. Anita Ardell’s unconventional and uncelebrated story shows what Greenblatt (2012) claims is “one of the characteristic powers of a culture[,] its ability to hide the mobility that is its enabling condition”(p.525).
Formerly a contemporary dancer, a showgirl and a dance producer, Amanda Card has been a lecturer with the Department of Theatre and Performance Studies since 2003. Her research and teaching are in movement studies, dance history, everyday performance and theories of embodiment. Her current projects include: a history of modernism, transnationalism and women in Australian dance; the appropriation of Indigenous dance in Australia and the United States; the influence of Pina Bausch
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