This article recounts the history to date of the Dancing Between Two Worlds (DBTW) project, which was initiated by a team of artist-scholars at Deakin University in 2018. DBTW’s brief was to engage the Indian community living in the western fringes of Melbourne in a project on civic belonging, cross-cultural artistic identity, and the performance of outer-suburban Indian diaspora. Working with the creative and community energies that are activated at the intersection of the creative arts and demographically inflected place, the Deakin researchers collaborated with local artists with an Indian background on a major performance in late 2019: Dancing Between 2 Worlds. This performance came out of a series of creative exchanges in community venues and public spaces in the City of Wyndham Local Government Area (LGA), whereby the Deakin team offered contemporary ‘Western’ creative approaches and the Indian artists shared their traditional artistic practices—amidst discussions about place, belonging and identity. This process was supplemented by interviews with some of the participants. Our article contextualizes the DBTW project through a summary of two previous, similar Deakin enterprises; looks at the significant methodological issues linked to the project; describes the performance of late 2019; and uses project images and other figures to relate its story. We also take this opportunity to consider the nexus of a practice-led research project with community: that is, the relationships and liaison between institution (Deakin University), local government, participants, and place—over time. The article concludes by digging in to the discursive tension between the terms ‘project’ and ‘group’ and (provisionally) resolves this tension in favour of the ongoing use of the word ‘project’ for DBTW. In this way, we add to the ideas on the ‘rhetoric of projects’ originally expressed by Paul Carter in Material Thinking. The latter section of the article draws on interview material to give voice to the local Indian community members and artists around the developing thematic preoccupations of DBTW, comprising civic belonging, cross-cultural artistic identity, and the performance of Indian diaspora in outer suburban Melbourne. The focus of this article, however, concerns the learning curve at Deakin University that indexes the development of its approach to community in place.
& West, P. L.
The Dancing Between Two Worlds Project: Background, Methodology and Learning to Approach Community in Place.
Landscapes: the Journal of the International Centre for Landscape and Language, 10(1).
Retrieved from https://ro.ecu.edu.au/landscapes/vol10/iss1/4