Witness is a performance for a group of dancers and a participating audience. The dancers have been practising the Dance Movement Therapy method known as Authentic Movement over several years. The practice involves a specific relationship and commitment between a mover and a witness. With eyes closed, the mover moves according to their own immediate interests and free associations in movement. The witness enables this process by 'holding the space': keeping the mover safe and watching with a supportive, non-judgmental attitude. Just as the mover is enabled by the presence of the witness, the witness is also prompted to reflect on his/her own embodied experience during the process. An intimate exchange occurs between mover and witness, with affective and ethical implications, and aspects of which are articulated in a discussion that follows the moving.

In Witness, the dancers do not attempt to 'compose' their movement but keep their raw, immediate involvement at a level before conscious awareness can organise it: that is, at a pre-choreographic level. Once the dancers finish moving, the dancers and witnesses share and discuss their own experiences, and so reflexively draw out the qualities, affections or complications of the event. These two elements – movement score and group discussion – together constitute the performance.

The witnesses must commit to their involvement by agreeing to attend all three nights (which together constitute a single performance event). This commitment to attending three nights echoes the witness's commitment to the mover in Authentic Movement.

Witness prompts a range of questions: about what constitutes performance, about what the roles of the dancer and audience might entail, and about how a community of common interest and experience might develop through a responsive, attentive exchange between its participants.


SHAUN MCLEOD is a dancer, choreographer and academic who lectures at Deakin University, Melbourne. He is interested in the affective situation of dance improvisation and performance, as well as exploring alternative audience/performer relationships. As a dancer he danced with Australian Dance Theatre, Danceworks and One Extra Co. His work The weight of the thing left its mark was presented as part of Dance Massive 2011 (Melbourne). He recently completed a practice-led PhD on the engagement of Authentic Movement for performance.


Concept and Direction: Shaun McLeod
Dancers: Shaun McLeod, Olivia Millard, Peter Fraser and Jason Marchant

Date: 13, 20, 27 August
Time: 7pm
Runtime: 60 minutes
Where: Upstairs Studio, Dancehouse (this event is not wheelchair accessible)
Cost: $25 F / $20 C / $15 DH Member

Audience members or 'witnesses' must commit to their involvement by agreeing to attend all three nights (which together constitute a single performance event).



Image: Katie Banakh