Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (Dance) Honours


Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA)


Faculty of Education and Arts

First Advisor

Associate Professor Maggi Phillips


Genres in the performing arts are constantly shifting and changing, with many artforms evolving into new spheres of performance. It is not uncommon for creators to employ tools and techniques from various disciplines to support their artistic vision and enhance their work. A number of contemporary dance artists have begun to explore movement in the air by adapting skills or equipment from other disciplines and industries to suit their needs. At the same time, some circus artists and aerialists have been lowering their apparatus to incorporate ground-based movement into their work. It is this cross-pollination between art-forms that has formed the basis for this project.

Looking specifically at the borderlines between contemporary dance and aerial arts\ in Australia, this project seeks to discover whether the work of contemporary dance artists who incorporate aerial apparatus into their practice are contributing to the creation of a new genre, or whether their work remains a facet of contemporary dance.

Using a combination of observation, participation and semi-structured interviews with a small group of key creatives, this ethnographic study reflects on the current situation relating to the use of aerial apparatus in Australia. A framework of classification developed by Kendall Walton (1970) was also employed to gain an understanding of how the careers and creations of these key practitioners are contributing to the performing arts landscape in Australia. Some of the advantages and disadvantages to this system of classification have been highlighted.

A surprising finding suggested that within the Australian context, aerial dance exists as a sub genre of both aerial arts and contemporary dance. This is despite the knowledge that aerial dance in America and Europe is understood to be related to, and have grown from, the modern dance or contemporary dance sphere. This suggests that there is the potential for aerial dance to emerge as a genre in its own right.

Included in

Dance Commons