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Contributor Profile: Bernadette Ashley

Bernadette Ashley (centre),
Mime Kings, El día de los Muertos celebrations, Movimiento, Townsville, 2014 Bernadette Ashley (centre),
Mime Kings, El día de los Muertos celebrations, Movimiento, Townsville, 2014

'Career' is a label too suggestive of a deliberate trajectory to be applied to the way my professional life has unfurled. My working life is actually inseparable from my life in a wholistic sense: a series of strands of experiences variously nurtured, neglected, dormant, reawakened, chosen, accidental, imposed, laughable, naïve and wonderful.

I started as a cadet journalist on a newspaper in country Victoria, and I now direct Movimiento, my own world dance studio in tropical Townsville. Those colourful strands have finally woven together into a multi-disciplinary existence of dance, choreography, teaching, performance, design and occasional reviewing of dance and new media arts.

As well as supporting music, dance, art and cultural diversity via my venue, I've been a weekly galleries columnist for the Townsville Bulletin, a judge for ScreenGrab, a creative culture sessional teacher at James Cook University and have served on the boards of several arts organisations.

A month spent in Cuba last year indulging my obsession in Afro-Cuban dance and music, while brushing up against murky Santería and quirky Caribbean Socialismo, has sharpened my aspiration to become fluent in Spanish for future journeys into Latin America, the better to get to the heart of things.


'Better to get to the heart of things' could also serve as an explanation for why I write. I sporadically keep a journal to elucidate meaning and direction from my somewhat chaotic existence; similarly, I see reviewing as a way to describe and distil the relevance of events and objects, but for an audience external to the action.

My experience as a practitioner of visual arts and dance gives me an appreciation of the layers of conceptual development, artistic decisions and technical concerns which occur before I see a finished work. This structural curiosity rarely detracts from my enjoyment (or otherwise) of a work I am seeing. Scrawling notes in the half-light of a live performance sometimes draws me in deeper and creates an urgency to suck every iota of nuance from an exceptional work.

I began writing for RealTime in 2007, having just finished a BVA and a study tour of some major European art events. I have a great deal of respect for RealTime's unique role in arts reviewing in Australia and the tenacity of its instigators in retaining that position through years of arts climate change.

Selected articles
movement is rewarded
Bernadette Ashley: Bonemap, Cove
RealTime issue #97 June-July 2010 pg. 24

exorcising addiction
Bernadette Ashley: Dancenorth, The Cry
RealTime issue #98 Aug-Sept 2010 pg. 24

messing with media
Bernadette Ashley: Screengrab, Townsville
RealTime issue #101 Feb-March 2011 pg. 30

the heart: savage & pained
Bernadette Ashley: Dancenorth, Double Bill
RealTime issue #103 June-July 2011 pg. 30

Swept up by an emotional storm
Bernadette Ashley: Dancenorth, Abandon
Online edition, Oct 30, 2013

Three minds, six bodies, one wonder
Bernadette Ashley: TasDance/Dancenorth, Threefold
RealTime issue #123 Oct-Nov 2014 pg. 27

© Bernadette Ashley; for permission to reproduce apply to [email protected]

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