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Meet Sarah Knox our resident agony aunt and enquiring mind...
I am currently a lecturer in the Dance Studies Programme at the University of Auckland. I teach dance technique, choreography, professional practices and take care of extra-curricular performances and international tours. My research interests are in technique and choreographic pedagogy, rehearsal direction, performance, ethnography and dance in Asia; I have published and presented my research internationally. I am also undertaking a PhD investigating creative-collaborative dispositions within multicultural choreographic education at a tertiary level. I have completed a Master of Creative and Performing Arts where I explored the experiences of professional contemporary dancers in choreographic collaboration. I also have a Post Graduate Diploma in Creative and Performing Arts. Previous to this I had a career as a contemporary dancer working with Footnote New Zealand Dance (2006-2010), The New Zealand Dance Company (2013), and Black Grace (2002-2004). Amongst all of that I worked as a freelance dancer, teacher and choreographer. I have taught in a number of recreational and pre-tertiary dance studios, judged competitions, and taught at seminars. I have also taught and choreographed for a number of primary schools, high schools and youth groups around New Zealand. I have choreographed independently for Tempo (2015), Dance Nucleus Singapore (2016), the New Zealand Fringe Festival, (2010, 2012), and for Footnote (2008, 2010, 2016). I did my tertiary dance training at the New Zealand School of Dance specialising first in classical ballet, then in contemporary dance and graduated in 2001. I am the founder (with Sarah Foster) of Trigger, an annual tertiary dance workshop. I am currently on the Tempo Board, and have recently joined the DANZ Magazine Editorial Committee.

Dance in the New Zealand landscape...
I believe that dance is for everyone and I think it is becoming increasingly more important and essential to our 21st century lives. We know that dance is an ever-popular recreational pastime, for fitness, and escapism, but it’s also a way to continue to build social relationships in a world that is full of challenges. We also know that dance can be used to enhance lives in diverse ways for diverse populations in health and wellbeing, understanding and valuing difference and in exploring and communicating ideas. I think this will only continue to grow and develop as we progress into the future.

Issues that need to be tackled in the sector...
There are two key areas that I believe need to be addressed in order for us to move forward.

Firstly, I believe we need to continue to re-imagine what our dance industry could look and feel like. This means having really tough and loud conversations about what we want and what we no longer want. I believe that we need more safe and respected avenues for people to voice ideas and concerns. I believe that fear is still a real problem in our community. I question what tools we are providing for young people to create new, ethical, creative and responsive ways of working together.

The second is in expanding our thinking about what ‘success’ might look like, and to encourage and celebrate diversity in this. What we teach and how we display our values as teachers comes into question, as well as how we give permission to younger dancers to forge their own way, take risks and to invent futures that might not even exist yet. It seems to me that if we are to expect real diversity within our dance community then we need to celebrate it in all its possible forms and pathways.

The last performance you saw...
The last performance I saw was the University of Auckland Dance Studies Postgraduate choreographic showcase. I taught the students for three years in their Undergraduate degrees, including their first year choreographic paper. It’s really exciting to see how their ideas and skills develop. They have gained confidence in both making and performing, and I love getting to witness their progress!

How you like to spend your weekends...
I’m generally really busy during the week and often work long hours, so weekends are for relaxing, life admin, housework and prepping for the next week. I usually spend Saturday having coffee with a friend, or if I’m really lucky, a lazy brunch with my partner. Then follows washing, cleaning, groceries and making lunches for the next week. In amongst all of that I try to do a yoga class or wander along Ponsonby Road to look at the shops. On Sunday evening I like to think ahead to what I might need to do during the week and get my head into any important meetings, tasks or teaching. Then it might be an episode of Blindspot or Suits before attempting to get a good night’s sleep.

If you could perform with anyone dead or alive....
Dancing is best done with people who you actually really, really like to spend time with, who you feel safe with and who have all the banter and laughter. So this one is easy: without a doubt I’d pick my good friends Sarah Foster, Anita Hunziker and Lucy Marinkovich.
We’d have the best time! (How can we make this happen?)

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Meet the Blogger: Sarah Knox

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