Woman Phillips, Maggi

Dance educator and Scholar

Written by Grace Edwards, The University of Melbourne

Maggi Phillips was born on 8 August 1944 in Melbourne, where she received her ballet training in the Cecchetti method at the National Theatre Ballet School under Madame Lucie Saranova, later extending to other perspectives with Rex Reid, Kathy Gorham, Ted Miller, Maggie Scott and Robert PomiƩ. From 1965 to 1974, Phillips toured with the Doriss Dancers (Doris Haug, choreographer of the Moulin Rouge, Paris), performing in theatres, casinos and circuses across Europe, the Middle East and South America. She then worked with Browns Mart Community Arts in Darwin exploring contemporary dance as a medium for education, community participation and professional performance, leading to the establishment of Feats Unlimited between 1984 and 1987. Feats Unlimited toured schools and communities throughout the Northern Territory and fostered local choreographic development.

In 1996, Phillips entered academic life, completing her doctorate entitled Storytellers, Shamans and Clowns: Postcolonial Engagement with the Supra-human in the Novels of R.K. Narayan, Nuruddin Farah, Bessie Head, Ben Okri and Salman Rushdie. She has stated that it helped shaped her view that dance education in its broadest sense is intrinsic to the human condition. Phillips' belief in the creative potentials of dance from infancy to old-age constitutes her guiding principle, having worked with both aspiring and maturing professionals, as well as grass-roots communities.

Phillips is currently the coordinator of Research and Creative Practice at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts, receiving her appointment in 1997. Her position at WAAPA, she has acknowledged, allows her to fuse her disparate influences, provoking understanding of knowledge's variable manifestations and a desire to privilege diversity across those inordinate forms (Dancing Between Diversity and Consistency website).

In 2010, Phillips was honoured with an Australian Dance Award for Services to Dance Education, and was described as a 'great teacher, an assiduous researcher and a much-loved mentor for many graduate students in Perth' (Australian Dance Awards Website).

This followed the publication of Guidelines for best practice in Australian Doctoral and Masters Examination, encompassing the two primary modes of investigation, written and multi-modal theses, the culminating document of an Australian Learning and Teaching Council grant, Dancing between Diversity and Consistency: Refining Assessment in Post Graduate Degrees in Dance, in 2009, which Phillips co-wrote with colleagues Associate Professor colleagues, Cheryl Stock and Kim Vincs.

Phillips recently took over as editor of Brolga, an Australian journal about dance, replacing outgoing editor Alan Brissenden who had edited the journal since 2007.

Additional sources: Email correspondence with Associate Professor Maggi Phillips, January 2013.

Published Resources

Online Resources

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