Master of Fine Arts (Dance) at the VCA

I commenced my Master of Fine Arts (Dance) at the VCA in 2019, relocating to Melbourne Victoria. At the same time, it would be the final year of running my business, Mill Street Studios.

The MFA was a two year full time course, however with COVID 19 in 2020, my MFA took three years. This was due to a number of factors including needing to form new creative collaborations due to border closures in Australia. Postgraduate study, despite numerous challenges, proved to be remarkably rewarding and enjoyable. Researching through my creative practice was in many ways invigorating.

My MFA investigated experimental methods for dance filmmaking and placed cinematic elements including location, cinematography, and editing at the centre of the creative process as the means to shift and subvert expectations in dance film.

At the conclusion of 2021, I submitted my folio of work which included four dance films, and a 20,000 word thesis.

I was thrilled to graduate the following year with first class honours.

The graduation ceremony included traditional photos taken in the graduation regalia. The photographer asked if there were any other photographed I wanted. I said yes.

The graduation was a lovely way to close a chapter that spanned from 2019 to 2021. I’m also quite proud of the dance films that were a part of my studies and that have been screened in over 90 film festivals, winning several significant awards.

My thesis is here: 


REVOLVE – From creative development to dance film

While cutting my films for Permutations, I was craving exploring a new idea and despite that most film festivals have little or no financial rewards (just being accepted into some festivals is huge) I was fortunate to win a festival for my dance film Void that had some prize money. I decided to invest this money into a little creative development working with the team from Void. Despite feeling strange not to be rehearsing at Mill St, it was so good to be back in the studio (a quaint little hall in Paddington) dabbling with new ideas. 

working with Erin O’Rourke

Following the time in the studio I found a few locations to hire and tested the moment in each. The idea was to see how the movement translated to the location, and eventually come back and refine these ideas further down the track. 

After dabbling with the footage in the edit, I was keen to explore just one locations in particular and to draw from the history and aesthetic of the space. In dance film, this is not an unusual way to work and for me, films like Pulse, Vault, and Void began by drawing from the aesthetic or history of the location. One alternative to this method is commencing with an idea or story and finding locations to suit the story. My films, Ward of State and Love Song are examples of working from a story starting point. Dance film might also start with a movement idea such a my films Splat or Silt, or they be conceptual or experimental, such as my film Shift.

In June, we spent a few more days rehearsing at one of the locations and in early July we spent two days filming at the location as well as an additional 3 days in August. Spreading out the filming process is not the traditional way with film, but the time to reflect in between filming is an important part of my process, particularly given how editing can alter the outcome.

Along side rehearsals and filming, I was also researching the history of the location – a former telephone exchange and starting to weave in some ideas around revisiting and looking at all the old clunky telephones and exchange desks. The Brisbane Telephone Museum in Brisbane also provided some great information about former days and the nuts and blots of telecommunication.

We filmed the second part of the development in July 2022 (above) and additional 3 days in August 2022 (below).

Working again with dancer Erin O’Rourke, I also collaborated with cinematographer Saroj Kumar Chauhan who shot Void, Love Song and the Permutations pick up shots as well as AC and gaffer Jared Sexton, and Hannah Millar recording sound.

The film will be screened on October the 4th in Brisbane. Below are some stills from camera. More to come!



We bumped into the Brisbane Powerhouse on Monday the 13th of June and tested the four screens and sound. Seeing the four films as such large screens rather than my mock up version at home changed the experience of the films and I spent the time in between bump in and opening night tweaking and exporting the new versions. One change to one film would impact on the other films so I had to be very careful with any final changes. Furthermore, making a 30 minute dance film is significant but I realised that four x 30 minute films was a huge undertaking. Each new render and export took about 90 minutes which saw a few sleepless nights.

Here’s some photos from bump in.

Testing three of the four screens

The Permutations season ran from the 15th of June to the 18th of June 2022 at the Brisbane Powerhouse with four shows per night. The audience was positioned in the centre of the space as the four films unfolded around them making it an immersive experience. I took a few photos throughout the season.

Moments from the live experience of Permutations


SCREENING 4 Dance Films

In the lead up to Permutations at the Brisbane Powerhouse in June, I thought it would be a good idea to show the other new dance films I have created recently. Void has been shown over the world (in twenty four festivals), but not in Brisbane, and Love Song has not been shown in Australia. The screening of these films will occur at the New Farm Cinemas (Purple Cinema) on Wednesday the 18th of May 2022 at 7pm.

Claire Marshall Presents

Claire Marshall


And the premiere of the music video 
Tycho Brahe 
(inspired by Claire’s film LOVE SONG)

7pm for a 7:15pm start
Wednesday the 18th of May 2022
New Farm Cinemas (Purple room)
701 Brunswick St, New Farm QLD 4005
Duration: 90 minutes

Facebook event:

The four dance films were created by Claire Marshall as a part of her Master of Fine Arts (Dance) at the Victorian College of the Arts, University of Melbourne where Claire investigated alternative methods of dance filmmaking and story structures, manipulated by location, cinematography, and editing.

The dance films have been choreographed by Claire Marshall in collaboration with dancers. They are produced, directed, and edited by Claire Marshall.



Dancer: Amelia Le-Bherz
2:40 minutes

SPLAT is a quirky short screendance experiment whereby the action of falling or ‘splatting’ to the ground is executed as a constant in every take to establish a controlled singular motif for analysis. When cut together as a montage, using different locations, and proximities of the body to the camera, this repeated action was then considered in relation to meaning making and narrative. Investigating metaphors associated with falling, suggested meanings of exhaustion, defeat and powerlessness became reinforced by repetition. 


Dancers: Lucy Hood and Richard Causer
Cinematographer: Kevin Holloway
32:20 minutes

SHIFT commences with a duet that depicts a story of a discordant couple. The story repeats four times in different locations, acting to highlight and reinforce the predicament of the dancer and create an overarching sense of atmosphere and defamiliarization. Rather than impose an idea on a specific location scouted to suit a story, as an experimental film, SHIFT was filmed in numerous locations, and allowed the sense of ‘story’ to evolve in the edit.


Dancer and Vocalist: Erin O’Rourke
Cinematographer: Saroj Kumar Chauhan
15:00 minutes
Winding upwards, gazing downwards, slinking, sinking, vaulting, halting, a solitary figure, dancer Erin O’Rourke journeys through an old labyrinthine staircase as a metaphor of her psyche. Moments of déjà vu and multiple selves emerge in a dance film that conjures ideas of psychological entrapment of women. VOID was a reciprocal response to Shift by exploring one dancer in a solitary location and creating a cinematic world through responding to the architecture.  As such, the stairs became a signifier of a journey, the closed stairwell presented the idea of entrapment, and the repetition in the architecture provided the impetus for multiple selves. 


Dancers: Richard Causer and Anthony Trojman
Cinematographer: Saroj Kumar Chauhan
Score: Tycho Sound Design
16:30 minutes

LOVE SONG is a dance film that explores a story of a relationship in constant flux, where deception and emotional manipulation unfolds. The story of LOVE SONG evolved in rehearsals, developed in collaboration with the dancers Richard Causer and Anthony Trojman. LOVE SONG situates two stories in a parallel structure, showing aspects of the two stories simultaneously establishes conflict and shifts perceptions of the dancers and story.

LOVE BLIND LOVE by Tycho Brahe (Music Video Premiere)

Dancer in image: Sarah Problem-Hoe
Composition: Ken Evans and Georgina Emery of Tycho Brahe
Dancers: Richard Causer and Anthony Trojman
3:30 minutes

AND…showing the new

Dancers: Richard Causer, Bella Hood, Lucy Hood, Jacob Watton.
Cinematographer Kevin Holloway
Additional shots by Saroj Kumar Chauhan
Image by Mark Greenmantle
3:00 minutes

PERMUTATIONS opens at the Brisbane Powerhouse on Wednesday the 15th of June 2022. 


VOID screenings

In December 2020 I completed cutting my dance film Void. This film was the most complex editing I had ever undertaken with the multiple matte layers. I think some people thought I had simply added a collideascope effect to make the multiples versions of Erin, however it took months to create with intricate and precise layers. This was particularly complex when there was a lot of movement involved.

After completion in late 2020, over the next few months I submitted Void into a few film festival, curious to see how it was received. Festival submissions can be costly and rarely see much financial renumeration. Every film is different and can extend beyond the ‘genre’ of just dance film in submissions. I was very selective with the submissions for Void, and despite some knock backs to the usual favourite festivals, I was quite surprised that Void was accepted into more European festivals as well as some more specific ‘genre’ festivals. For example, Void was accepted into a festival specific to darker genres such as horror. Not that Void is a horror film, but it has themes of psychological entrapment, and is generally a dark film aesthetically.

The creative development of Void was made with the support of a stART Grant from Metro Arts. Completed in December 2020, Void premiered in July 2021 in the 11th Festival de Cine-Arte en la Frontera, San Cristóbal-Venezuela, and has since screened in 24 festivals around the world including the Tipperary Dance Program TDP’21 International Dance Festival, Ireland, Florence Dance on Screen Festival, Florence, Italy, Thessaloniki Cinedance International, Greece, Dance (Lens) Festival at Dancehouse Melbourne, Short to the Point Bucharest, Romania, 7th Dancinema Festival, Washington D.C., Dance Camera Istanbul, Istanbul, Turkey, In Shadow 14th Annual Screendance Festival, Lisbon, Portugal, Braga International Video Dance Festival, Portugal, 8th ScreenDance Festival Stockholm, Sweden and 14th Lighthouse International Film Festival on Long Beach Island, NJ.

In 2021 Void was a finalist in the Vesuvius International Film Festival, Campania, Italy and in 2022 was a semi-finalist in 3 festivals including the Rotterdam Independent Film Festival, Rotterdam, Netherlands, Sacramento World Film Festival, California, USA, Dumbo Film Festival, New York, USA. Void was also a nominee for the best dance film in the Milan Arthouse Film Awards, Italy (Nominee – Best Dance Film) 2022.

Void has won 7 festivals including Mannheim Arts and Film Festival, Mannheim, Germany (Best dance film 2021), Red Movie Awards, Reims, France (Award Winner – REIMS Excellence Director 2021), Short Film Factory– Bucharest, Romania (Award Winner – Dance category 2022), 5th Dark Veins Horror Fest, Lecce, Italy (Award Winner 2022), Stockholm Short Festival Stockholm, Sweden (Award Winner – Best Dance clip 2022) and the San Francisco Indie Short Festival, San Francisco, USA (Award Winner – Best Dance Short Film 2022) and most recently in May 2022 won the Braga International Video Dance Festival, Portugal!

I feel so grateful that people have appreciated this film, and it has been screened in so many amazing festivals.


PERMUTATIONS stage two: editing and pickup shots

Following filming Permutations in January, I spent the next month cutting footage. While I was happy with it, making four x 30 minute films was ambitious and I could identify some gaps in the story. It probably should have been a five day shoot rather than four and it was amazing that we managed to get all the footage we did in four days.

Below are some stills from the footage:

Fortunately, the location, dancers and team were available for the day except for cinematographer Kevin Holloway who was on a job in Canberra. Thankfully, Saroj Kumar Chauhan, who shot Love Song and Void, was available and willing to take on the task. 

However, the weekend I picked for the pick-up shots was the weekend of the 26th of February when Brisbane flooded. In the lead up to filming while rehearsing and setting up, two of the key team members were cut off in the floods, one of the dancers had to walk through flood water to get to the set (because she could not drive through it), Mill St studios was going under water, and I lost thousands of dollars of show sets and props in my shipping container. The house we were filming at began to leak in multiple places, and some of the dancers were possibly not going to be able to get home.

For the first time I began to question if it was worth persevering. I thought the stresses of COVID during the initial shots was extreme, however in the years of making work I’ve never known such a stressful series of events that just continued to unfold as it did this particular weekend. However, I think I can say we got the shots, mostly due to the amazing team who all helped out significantly and were incredibly supportive through all the dramas. 

This was meant to be a sunny scene but the dancers were such great sports. Here, Lucy Hood embraces the torrential rain.

After bumping everything out it slowly began to dawn on me that the Brisbane Powerhouse had flooded and that where the projectors were being hired from (at Southbank) had flooded severely. Despite feeling like I had got all the shots and beaten COVID and the floods, there came the ‘sinking’ feeling that I would need to postpone the season.

The flood levels at the Brisbane Powerhouse nearly reached levels similar to in 2011. Some say it was higher. Below are some stills from the Brisbane Powerhouse in 2011 and 2022 (see photographer credits attached).

Brisbane Powerhouse 2022 floods
Brisbane Powerhouse 2011 floods
Brisbane Powerhouse 2022

Fortunately, Permutations has been postponed until June 2022. I will need to print new flyers and posters, but that is a small price to pay.
Wednesday 15 – Saturday 18 June 2022



After four funding attempts, my application to Arts Queensland to make a new work was accepted. The idea of Permutations came from an idea that evolved through making my dance films for my Master of Fine Arts at the VCA where I was investigating alternative story structures in dance film.

Permutation is an immersive dance film installation that positions the audience in the centre of large screens where a multiple point-of-view story unfolds.

The story of Permutations is centered around two sisters aged 16 and 17 who farewell their mother and her newlywed husband on their honeymoon vacation in 1982. However, the short trip soon becomes an extended holiday and the siblings are left to fend for themselves with the help of the neighbour and the local milkman. What unfolds is a story of two young women cast into a grown-up world – a spiral of abandonment, self-discovery, and recklessness at a time when missing person cases run rampant in the sleepy city. Evoking dark undertones, the experience of Permutations takes a multiple point-of-view structure whereby the audience is able to choose their view of the four characters and of the alternative perspectives of the story unfolding.

Permutations features four stunning dancers, Richard Causer, sisters Bella Hood and Lucy Hood and Jacob Watton.

The starting point of Permutations was to have a strong hero image so I returned to work with photographer Mark Greenmantle who shot the hero image for Flaunt in 2014. Mark cleverly put these three images together which is most exemplary of Permutations with different versions of a story that unfolds at once.

Image by Mark Greenmantle
Image by Mark Greenmantle
BTS of the photo shoot

Due to COVID and state border restrictions, rehearsals were set back until November and December. However, we were fortunate to have space to rehearse at Mill Street Studios (RIP).

I tried to be as creative as possible with rehearsals by creating mock-up scenarios similar to the location and surprised the dancers with games such as Twister and Uno to development movement with them. I had also made a gigantic 2.1m x 3.6m twister with my white tarkette and some coloured vinyl.

In December we had rehearsals on location, and we filmed over four days in January. Rehearsals on location were important for embedding the choreography into the location.

The location was a gorgeous late 1970s house that I’d taken a lot of time to find. I had met with the owner for a recce of the house and she was excited to have a dance film shot there. The house had a great vibe and was ideal for the early 1980s era. Some things needed to brought back to the era however, and my Mum had made some fantastic curtains from vintage sheets I had purchased. Tiffany Beckwith-Skinner and the dancers looked after making and installing other fabric and furniture.

In the lead up to filming state borders had opened but that meant COVID 19 was starting to spread in January. We were faced with the predicament that if one of the team became infected they would have to isolate. Sometimes people are not replaceable and this was the case on this project. There was no other time we could get everyone together. Kevin Holloway would have to fly up from Sydney again but he was booked on a long form project following this. There was no guarantee the house would be available again and the dancers were all still catching up on jobs that had been postponed already due to COVID. Consequently, calling ‘It’s a wrap’ on the Permutations shoot was a moment I will never forget. Fortunately, we made it with all the team healthy through the 11 days on location (bump in, rehearsals on set and subsequent 4 day shoot). However, making what was essentially four x 30 minute films was huge and there was some compromises. It would not be until I got to editing that I would know if I had all I needed. Still, what we achieved was massive.

THANKS: I need to say I was absolutely in awe of the four dancers (Richard Causer, Lucy Hood, Bella Hood, Jacob Watton) who went above and beyond to help things all come together, Kirrah Jobst with short scene too, as well as the creative team (Kevin Holloway, Amelia Le-Bherz, Tiffany Beckwith-Skinner and helpers). We also had some amazing help from Jane Hood (and the entire Hood family), Judy Le-Bherz, William Eggleton, and my Mum – all who were so kind to help in various aspects of the production.


Shift programmed in BIFF 2021

I am thrilled that my dance film Shift was selected for the 27th Brisbane International Film Festival (BIFF) and is screening on Friday the 29th of October. I never thought I would have one of my dance films accepted into BIFF. Home turf can be tough. Plus, dance film does not often get much a of a look-in with the mainstream festivals, particularly given a dance film with a 32 minute duration.

Shift was made as an experiment as a part of my studies at the VCA, University of Melbourne. In late 2019 Shift previewed in Brisbane, and in July 2020 premiered at the 48th Dance on Camera Festival, New York where it won ‘Best of Fest’ in the 20-40 minute category. Following this, Shift won the cinematography category in the Silk Road Film Awards, France, won the Close:Up San Francisco Short Film Festival, USA (experimental category), won the Obskuur Ghent Film Festival, Belgium (dance film category) in 2021, won the Open Vision Film Festival, Moscow, Russia (dance film category), and won the dance film section in the Kadoma International Film Festival, Osaka Japan. Shift was also a finalist for an Australian Dance Award in 2020. 

Shift has been screened as a featured work at The Dance (Lens) Festival at Dancehouse Melbourne, and programmed as an official selection in the Cascadia Dance Film Festival, Canada, Birmingham International Dance Festival, England, Mill of Performing Arts Festival, Larissa Greece, Defy Film Festival, Nashville Tennessee, and at The International Meeting on Videodance and Video Performance (EIVV, Valencia, Spain), dually with the Festival International de Vidéo Danse de Bourgogne (Burgundy, France). Shift was selected again for the 49th Dance on Camera, New York, programmed with significant films over the 49 year history of the festival and most recently at the prestigious London International Screen Dance Festival in August 2021.

The screening at BIFF is the absolute icing on the cake at the end of an amazing 18-month run of the film with 18 screenings over the globe commencing and concluding in Brisbane at BIFF. Shift screens in BIFF’s ‘Australian Festival Highlights’ at the Palace James St, New Farm. Congratulations to the team involved: Richard Causer, Lucy Hood, Kevin Holloway, Amelia Le-Bherz and the fabulous extras too. 


LOVE SONG stage four: trailers

Two trailers I’ve cut for LOVE SONG featuring ‘Tension’ and ‘Disco Diabolo’ by Tycho Brahe.

The full film was the fourth project made as a part of my MFA at the VCA. Love Song was an honour to make in collaboration with dancers Richard Causer and Anthony Trojman.

From here the film will be screened and I will submit it into some film festivals. It will be interesting to see how this usual aspect ration is received.

I will also cut a music video using some of the footage for the composers who kindly created so much amazing music for the score – a nice agreement for a low budget film.

LOVE SONG is a story of a relationship of constant flux, where deception and emotional manipulation occurs, implemented for each persons’ agenda. LOVE SONG unfolds in a parallel structure, exploring two perspectives of a relationship concurrently.

LOVE SONG features dancers Richard Causer and Anthony Trojman, as well as Matthew Overberg and a cast of other super swell people. Cinematography by Saroj Kumar Chauhan, Hair and Makeup by Amelia Le-Bherz, and Score by Ken Evans for Tycho Sound Design.