Environmental and site dance in Aotearoa New Zealand: Tracing the legacy of Alison East


Tracing lineages of dance practice and research has provided much insight into the growth of dance internationally. The focus of this paper is to extend the identification of lineages in environmental and site dance research in Aotearoa New Zealand, and particularly to consider the ways in which dance artist Alison East and her students have acted to embody relationships with land. This consideration of relationships with environment, site and land through dance weaves interdisciplinary understandings of deep ecology and environmentalism with somatic pedagogies and phenomenological research in ‘the-more-than-human’ world. In tracing a lineage from Alison East, I share my own embodied experiences of this socio-cultural context through an autoethnographic methodological approach. This methodology integrates empirical evidence collected as a member of the dance community, with embodied lived experience and research literature. In tracing lineages in environmental and site dance practice, I consider the work of Origins Dance Theatre and evolving practices that develop relationships with land. In this tracing I aim to contribute to documentation and discussion of dance history in Aotearoa, to honour Alison East’s legacy and to share insights into living in dance in relationship with this land.


@ The University of Waikato