Shelley Lasica, 'The Design Plot', 2018, Sutton Projects.

Shelley Lasica, 'The Design Plot', 2018. Photography Jacqui Shelton

About DAMN

‘DAMN Writing’ is an iterative writing project that runs alongside the Think Tank Dance Assembly (TTDA).

Its chapters are written by people who have been engaged in TTDA activities, and who responded to an open call for contributions, or to a direct invitation based on their connection to a key topic, activity or perspective within the sub-culture. The editing team came together in the same way.

DAMN stands for ‘Dance Artists of Melbourne Network’. ‘Damn’ also gets at the exasperation that permeates the ‘practicing artists sector’ in Australia, in 2020 – a kind of weary, hoarse-throated insistence to be listened to, that what we do matters, and for things to be approached differently if the sector is to survive. ‘Things’ meaning the conventions that shape the practice of an independent dance artist (or any artist) working in Melbourne (or anywhere in Australia) in 2020 and beyond. ‘Survive’ also means ‘change’ or ‘rearrange’ (or ‘knock it all down and start again completely’)

This is from a multi-authored explanation, ‘What is Think Tank Dance Assembly’:

TTDA is an open assembly for independent dance artists to discuss shared interests and strategies. Its activities are focused on the advocacy and development of independent dance practice across its multiple processes and outcomes, structures and desires. Inclusive of undergraduates through to established dance artists, TTDA is predominantly focused on the dance community in Melbourne/Naarm, but open to artists and discussions from further afield.

TTDA is artist-led but is avoiding fixed, centralised leadership, it is continually in progress, growing an informal self-organising structure that allows any individual artists involved to initiate dialogue and action. Driven by the changing, diverse and frequently aligned interests of individuals, TTDA is never necessarily representative of the ‘group’ writ large.

DAMN Writing as a project was conceived against the highly unusual backdrop of the early pandemic: a collective desire to materialise or extend on the anxious and sometimes exhilarating conversations arising from within the confusion, concern and thrill of that time in March, April, May. Initially, it was maybe conceived as a single, clarion call from ‘the dance community’-as-singular-block, like an open letter or manifesto.

This 'about DAMN' page has used excerpts from William McBride's Introduction.

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