Dance-maker Lucinda Coleman making dance with wily words and syllables that clamber to be stories gently moving.

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Autumn, 2019

Goodness is always older than choice” (Lévinas, 2013, p. 57).

What if, in our beginnings, all is truly Good? What if it really didn’t matter what ethnicity, nationality, sex, gender, race, age, genetics, experience, qualifications, we each ascribed to have and/or hold? We are all human beings, momentarily dwelling in time on Earth. As our human forms develop, we are influenced by other things: doctrines, cultures, politics, histories, religions, languages, locations, teachings, aspirations. The shape of our being in time engages us with Others. We begin to articulate our preferences, likes, and dislikes through engagement with the ideas, beliefs, and interests of other people. We decide on things. We choose to believe our thoughts and ideas are good and right. We choose to invite other things into the goodness of One. Our human perspectives lead us to deliberate over choices that may not have previously existed, for “if the One could be distinguished from the Goodness that sustains it, the One could take up a position with regard to its goodness, know itself to be good, and thus lose its goodness” (Lévinas, 2013, p. 57).  

What if we only have choices because we have ceased to dwell in Goodness? 



Video clip of water filmed on location in Sottochiesa, Taleggio, Bergamo, Italy, during the NAHResidency, by Ellen Avery, 2018, used with permission.



Lévinas, E. (2013). Otherwise than Being or Beyond Essence (A. Lingis, Trans.). Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Duquesne University Press.



Summer, '18-'19

. . . no book can teach what can be learned only in childhood if you lend an alert ear and eye to the song and flight of birds.

(Calvino, 1999, p. 21)

Recently, my eldest daughter decided to fold 1,000 paper cranes as a gift for her cousin. A friend was visiting Japan and sourced 1,000 small, square sheets of exquisite origami paper: smooth patterned colours on one side and textured neutrals on the other. My daughter was moved by the story of Sadako Sasaki, a child ‘hibakusha’ (atom-bomb survivor) who died from leukaemia, before achieving her goal of folding 1,000 cranes as a wish for world peace. The tradition of gifting 1,000 cranes, strung on fine lines, as a wish for others, inspired my daughter. And so, she began.

She folded herself into each winged crane. As she lined the edges and ran her nails along seams, her breathing became precise: meticulous. Peace settled within and around her with each careful gesture. In the pockets of her spare time emerged birds of happiness that gathered as ‘senbazuru’–1,000 paper ‘orizuru’ later to be held together by string. She handled each delicate piece with respect: select, smooth, crease twenty-two-times, set-aside, then repeat. 

She released the flock as prayer. 1,000 blessings for a lifetime of love. The installation was challenging, fraught with hesitation as to the right place to leave the threaded cranes. She left them swinging in response to inclement weather and wild winds far away from where she herself lived. A prayer without letting go, is a wish without wings. She let go.

What if each new day was like one delicate sheet of origami paper? What if we made our own 22 folds in the space of a day, and lengthened our own gauzy wings? What if we gently and meticulously folded in on ourselves? Our inside-reverse folds, creased well, might make one small thing of beauty–no more, no less–each day that we might live. What if the simple act of making one small wish was strung together with others in the darkness of night, suspended as prayer, waiting for the right moment to be released in flight? 

Holding, we could fold thoughts and dreams each fragile day and gently pry apart hidden wishes, flattening bulbous shapes and lengthening wings for flight. One folded piece alone is a gesture of hope. Crease each day. String a few together as a diaphanous gift for another: 1,000 blessings for a lifetime of love. Fold thoughts into prayer. Hold. Thread and suspend to swing in the world. Let go. Begin again.

Happy New Year!

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* Photographs of origami cranes folded by Samantha Coleman, by Lucinda Coleman, 2018, reprinted with permission.



Calvino, I. (1999). Mr Palomar (W. Weaver, Trans.). London, United Kingdom: Vintage. 



Spring, 2018


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*Photographs of forest trees in Margaret River, by Lucinda Coleman ©2018, reprinted with permission.



Winter, 2018

Another country. You.
Your skin the bright, sharp line
that I must travel to.               

Battle-line by Imtiaz Dharker (1989)

Gatherings often consist of checkpoints. In a conference setting, the first task is the official identification and registration of delegates on arrival. Border places loom as travellers assemble to listen and respond to a presenter: an inspection of sorts a whimsical checkpoint. Meetings within Meetings generate itemised lists for notation and confirmation by those who have clustered together. There are comparisons with Others as individuals meet, mingle, share, consider, exchange, ponder, and  . . .

Recently, I participated in the gathering, Panpapanpalya: the second Joint Congress of daCi (dance and the Child international) and WDA (World Dance Alliance) Global Education and Training Network. Over 800 delegates convened in the beautiful city of Adelaide, in wintery South Australia, July 8th-13th, 2018. Sensitivity to checkpoints was evidenced in an extensive program which included scholarly papers, twin labs, workshops, lecture demonstrations, dance performances and creative collaborative gatherings. I was excited simply to attend, present a scholarly paper, reconnect with colleagues, make new contacts, and . . .

My conference experience began just before the Panpapanpalya Opening as I met with other researchers during the ECR (Early Career Researchers) Community-Dance Day. I plunged into extraordinary stories from across the world in moments of one-to-one, face-to-face encounters and experienced slippage at the research checkpoint. More than the stuff of academia, I was captivated by the flash of a smile, the curious gaze, a tilted head and expressive gesture. I determined that my checkpoints for this conference gathering would be that of skin which danced the stories of experiences in realms far from my own. I sought out the thoughts swinging behind lanyards; the ideas brimming in the sub-text of presentations. I said YES when invited for a glass of Barossa red with exceptional researchers, who are simply exceptional people. I said YES to dancers performing, to answering questions, to sharing a coffee, to making new friends, and . . .

I was reminded why I attend conference gatherings: for the serendipitous checkpoints. In the unexpected conversations, I unearthed other worlds. In dropping into seminars, sliding into theatre seats, holding my breath during street performances, I noted the bright sharp lines that beckoned I travel further in, towards, and . . . 



Photographs of Early Career Researchers Community-Dance, ECR Day at Panpapanpalya Joint Dance Congress by Sarah Knox, 2018, reprinted with permission. #danceECR


Reference: Dharker, I. (1989). Purdah. Delhi, India: Oxford University Press.


A Pruning Story

Autumn, 2018

“i believe in mystery, curiosity, and kindness” ― Dr Linda Caldwell (August 8th, 1950-April 22nd, 2018)

A close friend gave me a Mr Lincoln Rose bush as a parting gift some time ago. I love roses, but I am not a great gardener. With some trepidation, I planted Mr Lincoln and watched how it began to grow against our back fence. The first bloom was a triumph: feisty dark pinks unfurling in elegant perfection. Then, the plant began to struggle. Leaves became mottled and dropped off the Mr Lincoln stem. I persisted in nurturing the thorny stalk, because the gift was precious to me. Eventually two spindly branches sprang from the base of the stem. They began to flourish and green leaves again favoured the back fence. However, there were never any flowers ever again. I had a plant with three sticks: two lined with green leaves, one with thorns. Something needed to be done.

I took a soil sample from the patch of dirt, and a photograph of the location, and went to visit my local garden nursery. I was told the soil was alkaline and there was too much shade for a rose bush to really thrive. In a panic, I bought potting mix, drove home and uprooted Mr Lincoln, transferring the startled plant into a bright red plastic pot. Mr Lincoln and I then drove back to the nursery so the experts could inspect the state of the rose and advise on the health of my rose sticks.

“That’s not the Mr Lincoln”, stated the expert as she pointed to the only two branches with leaves along the stem.

“What do you mean?” I asked, tremulously.

“Well, this solid stem with the thorns is the Mr Lincoln. These other two have sprung from the root stock, and I don’t know what they are. If it was me, I’d toss the whole thing out and start again”, she dismissed.

“But Mr Lincoln was a gift!” I exclaimed.

“Oh”, the expert paused, considering my dishevelled state as I clutched the dirty red plastic pot. “Oh, okay, so it was a special gift?” She softened, shifting her weight to settle in her right hip and tilting her head to one side as she reconsidered her response.

“Okay, so in that case, I’d suggest you get some clean secateurs–be sure they’re clean so you don’t transfer any diseases–and cut off these two leafy ones at the base, and see if the Mr Lincoln will recover. All the plant’s energy has been diverted into this other thing growing, so if you cut it off, that may give it a chance to recover. You never know: it may be okay”. Her smile was less than hopeful.

Disheartened, Mr Lincoln and I drove home. I cleaned some secateurs and sat in the driveway with my red plastic pot, fingering the green leaves and wondering why pruning was so difficult. I took a deep breath and cut off the two stems. All that was left was a brown, brittle, thorny stick with a little dead leaf clinging to the top: an insipid beige flag. It looked dead. 

“I killed Mr Lincoln”, I whispered to no one in particular. 

My husband and children were aghast. 

“Did you get all the roots when you dug it out of the ground?” queried my husband.

“It won’t grow if you didn’t get all the roots”.

“It’s a metaphor, Mum”, grinned my son.

“Why on earth did you do that? There are no leaves left!” exclaimed my eldest daughter.

“Oh, Mum, do you need a hug?” asked my youngest, patting my arm like she pats our dog.

“I don’t know”, seemed to be all I could say. “We’ll just have to wait and see what happens”.

The waiting place is not easy. It’s also surprising how busy waiting places can be. I found myself constantly monitoring how often I watered my dead stick, moving my red plastic pot around the front courtyard to ensure exposure to at least six hours of sunshine every day. The insipid beige flag dropped off and I dreaded telling my friend I had killed Mr Lincoln. 

Last week, I noticed something miraculous. Mr Lincoln began looking less and less like a dead stick in a plastic red pot, and more and more like a living, growing plant. The brown stick began turning to pale green. Tiny leaves began to emerge boldly along the stem, sprouting in unexpected places between the thorns. My entire family was entranced and we have now begun to share the daily task of caring for Mr Lincoln. Hope kindled; we wait with budding belief that there will be roses in the spring.


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Image credits:

Photographs of Mr Lincoln’s first rose (L image), 2016, & Mr Lincoln in plastic red pot (R image), 2018, by Lucinda Coleman, reprinted with permission.


This story is dedicated to Linda, who loved many things; flowering things in particular.