VCA part 1

MFA (Dance) at the Victorian College of the Arts

In 2006 I commenced Masters at QUT. To be honest, I think I commenced Masters because I was invited to study not because I genuinely wanted to. Looking back, my heart was in my creative practice and in 2006 and 2007 I had a lot of music video jobs coming my way and my priority was making work. I simply was not ready to reflect on my creative practice or to dive into serious research. 

At the time I was investigating the schism between contemporary dance and commercial dance. Looking back I am glad I did not waste 18 months on this because it is not something I am not interested in now. I often hear people contemplating getting a tattoo and hear people advise them in response “don’t get one until you know what you really want”. I think this is a great analogy for research: you really need to be certain that you want to research because once the written exegesis is published, it exists forever. While I don’t have any tattoos the idea of an exegesis had come back to my mind 12 years later.

Without question, what I was most interested in was dance film. After making Ward of State, I didn’t want to go and churn out another film using the same formula and I felt that it was necessary to extend my skills and immerse myself in research before making too many more dance films.

I spent time looking at where I could study and without a doubt the Victorian College of the Arts was where I needed to study.

This is the pathway to the dance department at the VCA.

After researching VCA staff , and the courses at the VCA, I made a number of visits to the VCA, seeing work of their undergraduates and graduate courses. I also arranged a meeting with Helen Herbertson who was the head of research at the VCA at the time.

The rich history of dance at the VCA is evident just stepping onto campus. The dance studios are covered in photos of previous student performances as well as head shots of the lineage of the Head of Dance since the inception of the course in 1978. While I waited for the meeting with Helen Herbertson, choreographer Gideon Obarzanek was taking a break while choreographing on the students and he very kindly showed me through the dance building. I was pinching myself as one of my idols showed me the studios.

The meeting with the legendary Helen Herbertson was wonderful. The dance nostalgia in her office was a reminder of her stature and legacy in dance and I felt in awe to be sitting there talking with her. Helen spoke about study at the VCA explained all the nuts and bolts of the course and I left feeling absolutely certain that the VCA was where I wanted to do my postgraduate study.

Like most things that I think are beyond my means, I usually try to forget about the application once I have made the submission. It was a wonderful surprise to have an interview that occurred via Skype with Helen and Dr Sandra Parker. A few weeks following the interview I was notified that I had been accepted to study a Master of Fine Arts (Dance) in the form of 50% creative output and 50% written exegesis. It was a moment that I will never forget.

Commencing study has been invigorating and I am certain that I am where I need to be for my research. Unrelated to my study, I also love Melbourne weather!

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