Dr. Amaara Raheem Announced as Frank Van Straten Fellowship Recipient for 2023

Frank Van Straten Fellowship

 Australian Performing Arts Collection

Australian dance-artist, writer and performance-maker Dr Amaara Raheem is set to explore the history of contemporary dance in the latest Frank Van Straten Fellowship, an ongoing research initiative from the Australian Performing Arts Collection. Dr Raheem encouraged artists and academics to apply for the next fellowship round for 2024.

Raheem will focus her fellowship on the history of iconic Melbourne dance company Chunky Move and the role contemporary dance archives have in preserving Australia’s cultural identity.

“My approach to the Frank Van Staten Fellowship will be guided through methodologies of embodiment and deep listening,’’ Dr Raheem said.

“My dance work is known for its entanglement with language, voice and text, its sense of humour and grounded movement practices that draws audiences into a physical imagination and worlds where fact and fiction blur,” she said.

The Sri Lankan born Australian artist currently teaches the Victorian College of the Arts’ Master of Dance program at University of Melbourne’s – the first program in Australia dedicated to dance as an interdisciplinary practice.

In 2022 she curated atmospheric platform for improvisation – Now Pieces – and was acknowledged as a recipient of ABC Radio National’s TOP 5 Arts Media Residency. Other notable works include Hestia, 300 Micro-Fictions, Fortunes of the Forest and Sleep Activism.

The culmination of research and creativity is a notable strength for Raheem. Her writing, including her PHD project ‘In-Residence’, is a powerful expression of how the worlds of arts and culture collide.

“I’m interested in how history can be critically relevant to contemporary life and current concerns; how it can be transmitted to younger generations, especially to artists who emerge from the margins, who don’t feel they have access to contemporary dance spaces such as Arts Centre Melbourne or Chunky Move; whose sense of belonging to the Australian arts ecosystem is more uncertain and insecure,’’ she said.

Dr Amaara Raheem will begin her fellowship next month and will deliver a performative outcome in 2024.

The Frank Van Straten Fellowship has been established as an authentic pathway for artists and academics to shine light on stories from Australia’s vibrant arts history.

Past recipients include Australian Writers Guild Award nominee Dr Kate Rice with docu-drama series Performing the PastCathy Pryor with a digital exploration into the history of three iconic female magicians in Rare flowers and golden butterflies and most recently, Angela Bailey with The GLAD Project, an exploration into the queer and often secreted lives of Australian performing artists.

The fellowship is made possible through the generous contribution of the Frank Van Straten AM and Adrian Turley Foundation. Frank played a pivotal role in the establishment of the Australian Performing Arts Collection in the late 1970s and was the founding director and first archivist of what was then the Performing Arts Museum. Arts Centre Melbourne has been the proud custodian of the Collection since its creation in the early 1980s.

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