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Dr Elizabeth Dempster

PhD (Monash), BA Hons (Dartington College, UK)

Honorary Fellow, College of Arts & Education

Elizabeth comes to university teaching from a background in the performing arts. She was a founding member of Dance Exchange with Russell Dumas, Nanette Hassall, Eva Karczag and David Hinckfuss, and later studied at Dartington College of Art under Mary Fulkerson and Steve Paxton. She has been involved in the dance and performance programs of ‘The Mill’ (Deakin University, Geelong) during the mid 1980s, and at Victoria University since the 1990s.

Her choreographic work in Britain in the early 1980s earned her recognition by American dance historian, Sally Banes, in her book Terpsichore in Sneakers, as ‘one of the leading exponents of new dance’ in that country. Since her return to Australia in 1983 she has produced many solo, group and collaborative projects with the support of the Australia Council and Arts Victoria through Performance Project, Creative Development and Travel Study grants.

She is a founder and continuing co-editor of the journal Writings on Dance and a member of the international research group Ideokinesis.com.

Recent publications

Refereed journal articles

Dempster, E. (2012)‘”How we walk, sit and stand’ Falling Behind: politics and body states. Writings on Dance #25 Winter 2012. pp 30 – 50.

Dempster, E. (2008) “The choreography of the pedestrian”, Performance Research 13:2 (On Choreography): 23-28

Dempster, E. (2007) “Welcome to Country: performing rights and the pedagogy of place” in About Performance: Local Acts: Site based Performance. Ed. Gay McCauley, Department of Performance Studies, Sydney University. #7: 87-98

Dempster, E. (2006) ‘Ideokinesis in Australia’ e-journal ideokinesis.com Ed. Pam Matts. CMT Press, Tempe Arizona*

Dempster, E. (2005) “Undisciplined subjects, Unregulated Practices: Dancing in the Academy” in refereed Conference Proceedings. Dance Re-booted: Initialising the grid. Ed Kim Vincs. Ausdance Canberra ACT Australia 1-11.*

Refereed chapters

Dempster, E.  (forthcoming 2013) “Ros Warby: For Her Own Body” in Bodies of Thought, 12 Australian Choreographers Open City Inc Rushcutters Bay, NSW.

Dempster, E. (2010) "Women Writing the Body: Let's Watch a Little How She Dances” revised and updated in The Routledge Dance Studies Reader, 2nd Edition. Carter, A. (ed). London and New York, Routledge. P. 229 -235.

Dempster, E. (1999) "Bodies in Motion: Spatializing practices in Australian dance" in Imagining Australian Space: Cultural Studies and Spatial Inquiry. Barcan, R. and Buchanan, I.(eds) Nedlands, W.A. University of Western Australia Press. p 103-113.

Dempster, E. (1994) "Women Writing the Body" in Bodies of the Text: Dance as Theory, Literature as Dance, E. Goellner and J. Shea Murphy (eds) New Jersey: Rutgers University Press.

Dempster, E. (1990) "Modern Dance: New Movement, New Meaning", "Writing Dance: Notation, Score, Script and Text", "Improvisational Dance" in Performing Arts: Processes of Realisation,Deakin University Press.

Conference presentations

Dempster, E. (2013) ‘The economy of shame, or why dance cannot fail’ NOFOD/SDHS Conference, Trondheim, Norway.

Dempster, E. (2011) “Thinking in images” Where the Image Meets the Body symposium, The Centre for Theatre and Performance Studies, Monash University.

Dempster, E. (2011) "So you want to do a dance PhD” Doctoral Writing in the Visual and Performing Arts, Sydney College of the Arts, University of Sydney.

Dempster, E. (2011) “Choreographic innovation and the community of spectators’ International Federation of Theatre Research, Osaka University, Japan.

Dempster, E. (2011) "She must watch through her body: examining the creative arts thesis” Showcasing Research Supervision. Swinburne University, Melb.

Dempster, E. (2008)“Touching and being touched: new dance and the critique of vision”, Performance Studies International #14. Interregnum: Between States. Department of Arts and Cultural Studies, University of Copenhagen.

Teaching responsibilities

Postgraduate research students and post-doctoral fellows

Completions: 8 PhD students, 4 MA (research), 7 Honours students

Current supervision: Principal supervisor of 7 PhD students; co-supervision of 3 PhD students.

Research grants

2008: Performance project grant in support of Falling behind: politics of body states, a program of experimental dance performance events and forums. Arts Victoria ($10,000).

2007 - 2011: Grants in support of publication of two issues of the research journal Writings on Dance, Arts Victoria ($15000); Australia Council ($20,000).

2010: Internal funding grants from Victoria University (VURDGS), 'Women dancing young and old all one': A study of inter-generational dance transmission in a remote aboriginal community. ($25,500)

Professional memberships

  • Chairperson, Writings on Dance Inc. 1987 to 1996 and 1999 - 2005. Member 2005 – present.
  • Co-editor of the journal Writings on Dance.
  • Member of the Board of Directors, Dance Exchange Inc. 1990 to present.
  • Member Tertiary Dance Council of Australia 2000 – present.
  • Member Society of Dance History Scholars

Areas of expertise

  • Feminist philosophies of the body
  • History and theory of modern and post-modern dance
  • Ideokinesis and dance pedagogy
  • Performance/live arts education
  • Practice-based performance research

Contact details

+61 3 9919 4963