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Image: Trisha Dunn, Italy, 2008.

Case study: Trisha Dunn - Arts Tasmania Claudio Alcorso International Residency

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Trisha Dunn is an established Tasmanian dance artist. She was the recipient of the Claudio Alcorso Foundation Fellowship* in 2008, which enabled her to spend three months in Italy working with two organisations.

Here are some insights from Trisha’s Fellowship experiences.

Where did you spend most of your time and what did you do?

My time was divided between two residencies. The first was a six week residency in a small village of 3 000 people called Tuoro sul Trasimeno. It was a wonderful place nestled on the edge of a lake and was the home (at the time) of the renowned contemporary dance company, Deja Donne.

During my time there, I observed the creation of a new work and had the opportunity to talk with the performers and directors about their methods and the differences in our approach to work, its development and funding. I was also used as a performer for some short videos that were made to accompany the work and utilised their space, a small theatrette, to create a short film. My contribution to them was to teach a technique class each morning for the company as they were working without a rehearsal director at the time. I was also engaged with the local community teaching classes as the family I stayed with were also performing artists.

My second six-week residency was spent with the Terni Festival in the Umbria region which programmed an array of contemporary, innovative, intimate and hybrid performance work. I was able to access the entire program of performances and meet and speak with many of the artists. I assisted with media and promotion of the event travelling to nearby villages to hand out materials and information. I taught a warm up class for the artists and organisers in the morning and was on hand for any support they needed in regards to the festival.

I was also able to travel to Rome and Bologna to see performances and festivals throughout this time.

Why did you apply at the time?

At the time I applied, I had been a company member of Tasdance for nearly ten years. I was ready to feed my creative soul with new information and experiences and challenge myself to see if these influences may inspire an independent career as a maker myself.

Can you recall any surprises, unforseen situations and challenges with your time away?

The greatest challenge for me while on this residency was to accept that the learning was not always going to be apparent immediately. It was not just coming from the professional residencies but also from the families I stayed with, the artists I spoke to, the food I ate, the building I inhabited and the wonderful places I visited. That the transformations that were occurring in me were subtle and difficult to pin point.

The greatest surprise for me was the openness and generosity of the Italian people I met. People opened their homes and their lives to us again and again to make the residency affordable (now that I mention it, Italy was VERY expensive at the time!) I am still in contact with several of the people I met there and one woman even came to Tasmania and stayed with me for a month to create a performance project as a direct result of this residency.

In retrospect, is there any residue, learnings or legacy from your trip? What is the strongest memory or impact you have from your time away?

Professionally the greatest influence I think was on the work I saw while away. I saw work that challenged the boundaries of art forms and the relationship to the audience which has had a direct influence on the work I have made since. I have recently begun to broaden my understanding of what an ‘artist’ is, that it is more than the work we make, that it is the total sum of us and all that we bring to who we are. This seed was planted during my time in Italy and will directly influence the choices I make in the future about my engagement with the arts.

Given your experiences now of other projects and travelling was there anything unique about your experience with the Alcorso Fellowship?

For me, the unique part of this residency was the trust I was given. The residency is also very flexible in terms of its shape and execution. You can really dream up your perfect professional adventure and apply for it, amazing!

Any tips for people intending to apply for an Alcorso Residency?

Be realistic about your budget. Use the support of organisations locally to help with accommodation options. Apply for something you REALLY want to do, not just something you CAN do. If successful, learn some of the local language, get good travel insurance, keep a diary and accept that the whole experience is the learning, be ready for the unexpected. And make it fun…….

* The fellowship that Trisha received is now offered as the Arts Tasmania Claudio Alcorso International Residency program, which in partnership with the Alcorso Foundation, supports individual artists or collaborations to undertake self-directed residencies and professional development opportunities overseas.

Click here for more information about the Arts Tasmania Claudio Alcorso International Residency program.

Image: Trisha Dunn, Italy, 2008.