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  • Writer's pictureashlee

Acknowledging Now: Ups and Downs

Working from home

Without spending too long on the topic that we are all saturated and exhausted with, let me jump back to the present day for a moment to check in and acknowledge the impact of the global pandemic.

Since emerging from the 2020 lockdown, life in Canberra had been relatively normal. I was conscious of how fortunate we were during the several months I was able to work in the studio while my interstate and overseas colleagues were in lockdown.

Inevitably though, the delta strain caught up with us, and at the time of writing it has been nearly two months since I have been able to use the dance studio. There are parks and lounge rooms and Zoom classes, but this lockdown has undeniably interrupted the flow of my practice as well as my residency. I know I’m not alone here. I have managed a few lounge room sessions, attempting to work in a similar way to how I would in the studio while allowing for shorter practices with restricted movement. But it turns out that my mind is very easily distracted inside my own apartment where everywhere I look I see to-do lists or books I could be curling up with on the couch. Not to mention the public servants’ virtual meeting I can hear taking place on the other side of the door. And while I LOVE site-specific work, there are plenty of factors that affect my motivation to practice outside too - the nearby public spaces are teeming with people dodging magpies while getting in their allotted outdoor exercise, and hay fever is definitely not conducive to productivity.

Apparently being boxed in an empty studio really does help with my focus and creativity.

Lockdown apathy

To complicate matters I have been dealing with injuries old and new, which is also cramping my style. Lockdown has given me a chance to take a break and focus on rehab and strengthening, but unfortunately it has not been a smooth process, and the frustration is holding me back from creative practice. More on this later!

On a more positive note, I have been able to pour more energy into this documentation project and work to integrate it more seamlessly into my practice. There is still many months’ worth of residency to catch up on! Heading into lockdown I was excited by the idea of being able to post here every week, but I have had to temper expectations of myself there too. These things always take longer than I think, and I have found there is somehow still so much to get done in a day, even in lockdown! Plus, this is all still quite new to me – even tweaking a website can eat up hours.

Last week I finally shared this blog on my social media. This might not sound like much, but it was a real milestone for me. I don’t post on social media too frequently, and even though the purpose of writing this is for people to read it, I was (and still am) pretty self-conscious about actually telling people about it! This small task became bigger than it needed to be, but when I did it, I was really touched by the lovely feedback.

Some good news - I was recently able to secure some ArtsACT funding for the next stage of my residency! This will allow me to work with a mentor towards the goal of a full-time development for a new work next year. I am stoked that my funding application was successful, though if I’m completely honest, finding out in the context of lockdown and injury has been slightly overwhelming. This stage of the residency was scheduled to begin in late September and wrap up by the end of the year, but this obviously needs to be rescheduled and will likely spill into next years’ plans. So, this is where I’m at: juggling multiple unknowns while trying to plan a project – a universal experience of the moment.


Before I wrap up this post, let me jump back to December 2020. In the studio I was learning some of the movement from the footage of me improvising with Courtney’s scores. During this process, I started to describe each movement in words to help me remember the dance. I scribbled them down and by the time I finished I had a page of instructions and images – a kind of new score! Realising I was more engaged by the process of creating this score than by the original dance, I sent it through to Courtney. She suggested voice recording it and then experimenting with it as an audio score, creating a sort of improvisation chain of stimulus and response.

Rather than share the outcome here today, I offer up the score itself in writing and audio for anyone to have a play. (I make no promises as to the audio quality!) This is my second attempt at recording it where I aimed to leave some room to move between instructions, though I personally find it’s still a little too fast to be a satisfying investigation! Of couse, you could have someone read it out to you live or record your own version with your timing. I would be really interested to hear about your experience if you give it a go!

Happy dancing!

The 3 Quotes dance score
Download PDF • 401KB
3 Quotes Audio Score
Download ZIP • 5.89MB


The uncertainties are many and uncomfortable, but more appealing than before.

Showing Up and Finding Focus

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