After having led her Solo Performance Commissioning Project in 2010, Dancehouse is inviting world-renown luminary DEBORAH HAY back to Melbourne. Deborah will teach our 2014 LEARNING CURVE program.

Learning Curve is a Dancehouse mentoring program open to participants from across Australia. It matches dancers with established artists in a concentrated and intimate studio experience. Learning Curve recognises the relationship between experience and development and encourages graduates to consider the essential nature of a career in dance as a life-long learning process. Past mentors include Tony Yap, Rosalind Crisp and Russell Dumas.

For 43 years Deborah Hay's research has been based on the observation and realisation that all of us are, both consciously and unconsciously, choreographed by culture, gender, politics, job, history, art, etc. Her interest as a choreographer is not to maintain or refine a choreography, but rather to destabilize learned movement that keeps us on a treadmill of replication.

The material for her research is the cellular body that she is the first to admit is impossible to grasp. Yet the translation of this material is the basis of her teaching, her practice and the subject matter of her performance. 

What if our attention is not on what we do onstage but how we can be continuously enlarging our experience of dance as we dance?

This is what will be explored in the 1-week intensive workshop.

Read more on Deborah Hay


Dates: Monday March 10 - Friday March 14
Times: 10am - 4pm

The successful participants are:

Deb Batton, Kelly Beneforti, Fiona Bryant, Chloe Chignell, Fleur Conlon, Alice Cummins, Ellen Davies, Michelle Ferris, Anna Healey, Alice Heyward, Helen Herbertson, Nikki Heywood, Zac Jones, Leah Landau, Paula Lay, Maud Leger, Amanda Lever, Catherine Magill, Megan Payne, Paul Roberts, Phoebe Robinson, Jane Refshauge, Suze Smith, Ade Suharto, Hellen Sky, Soo Yuen You, Elanor Webber.



Deborah Hay was trained as a dancer by and Mia Slavenska and Merce Cunningham and later joined his company. She was also a member of the Judson Dance Theater Company. She focused on large-scale dance projects involving untrained dancers, fragmented and choreographed music accompaniment, and the execution of ordinary movement patterns performed under stressful conditions.

In 1970, she left New York to live in a community in northern Vermont. Soon, she distanced herself from the performing arena, producing Ten Circle Dances, performed on 10 consecutive nights within a single community and no audience whatsoever. Thus began a long period of reflection about how dance is transmitted and presented. Her first book, Moving Through the Universe in Bare Feet (Swallow Press, 1975), is an early example of her distinctive memory/concept mode of choreographic record, and emphasizes the narratives underlining the process of her dance-making, rather than the technical specifications or notations of their form.

In 1976, Hay left Vermont and moved to Austin, Texas. Her attention focused on a set of practices ("playing awake") that engaged the performer on several levels of consciousness at once. Her second book, Lamb at the Altar: The Story of a Dance (Duke University Press, 1994), documents the unique creative process that defined these works.

In the late 1990's, Deborah Hay focused almost exclusively on rarified and enigmatic solo dances based on her new experimental choreographic method, performing them around the world and passing them on to noted performers in the US, Europe, and Australia. Also, My Body, The Buddhist , her third book was published by Wesleyan University Press, 2000. It is an introspective series of reflections on the major lessons of life that she has learned from her body while dancing.

In 2002, Hay made a decision to apply what she had learned from 30 years of working with mostly untrained dancers to choreographing dances for experienced dancer/choreographers.

In April 2012, Deborah Hay became one of the 21 American performing artists to receive the inaugural and groundbreaking 2012 Doris Duke Artist Award.


With support from the VCA Master Teachers fund
Thanks to Jane Refshauge for her generous contribution to the Learning Curve scholarships

Image by Rino Pizzi 2009