Dr. Steph Hutchison is an artist-researcher, choreographer, performer, and teaching-artist. Steph has a rich dance practice as a solo choreographer/performer and collaborator within dance and technology contexts. As a dance artist Steph creates and performs primarily improvised solo dance works that focus on extreme physicality and endurance of the human body, or engage a dialogue with digital technologies and systems. Steph’s work is also informed by her collaborations with motion capture, animation, robotics, haptics, and artificially intelligent performance agents. She has collaborated extensively on art, research, and industry projects with Deakin Motion.lab (2009 – 2016) and Dr. John McCormick (2014 – present). As a teaching-artist Steph began her practice as Artist in Residence for Arts Centre Melbourne (2005 – 2011), the sister institution of the Lincoln Center in New York, with whom she undertook professional development as a Teaching Artist. Teaching artistry underpins Steph’s work as a dance academic.
Steph completed her PhD research at Deakin University’s Motion.lab – meta: discourses from dancers inside action machines. Her PhD research was informed by her choreographic and performance practice in contemporary dance, circus arts, improvisation and technology contexts. In meta, Steph researched the dancer’s experience within different systems – techniques and practices of the body, environments, with equipment, and technologies. She was focused on how systems operate to produce new kinds of bodies in dance. This builds on her Master of Arts research into the hybrid body in dance, and is applied within her collaborations and the development of her teaching practice. Understanding systems and working in collaboration with systems and technologies enables Steph to collaborate extensively on research projects such as Dance Haptics – making dance performance accessible to vision impaired, blind and deaf-blind people. And, to teach in transdisciplinary contexts where embodied practice and embodied experiences can be developed to transform participant’s experience, knowledge and ideas as they work in creative collaborations with digital technologies. Steph’s current research builds upon her Physical Thinking Prototypes establishing processes, methods and systems for constructing dancing bodies and ways of thinking in the digital age. Physical Thinking Prototypes also provided a methodology for calibrating participants systems within the Ars Electronica Futurelab Academy at QUT (2017 & 2018) – enabling, opening and creating potentials via embodied practice and experience.
She continues to share Physical Thinking Prototypes (also known as Post-digital Calibration) as a practice for creative coders in Choreographic Coding Labs (Steph has facilitated labs for the Motion Bank Institute in Melbourne, Auckland, New York and Mainz) and other international institutions.
At the Queensland University of Technology, Steph is a dance academic who teaches contemporary dance technique, choreographic practice, screendance, improvisation and dance technology. Since commencing at QUT in 2016, Steph has been an active member of the community, contributing as a member of the Faculty Academic Board (2017 – 2018), co-leading the redesign of the Bachelor of Fine Arts courses for Dance and Dance Performance (2017), leading the Experimental Creative Practice research theme of the Creative Lab (2017 – 2018), and as a School Research Ethics Advisor (2019). As a mentor for the next generation of dance artists Steph has successfully led and coordinated co-curricular activities for emerging dance artists to deepen their practice and experience. In 2017, these activities included improvised performances for The Brisbane Street Art Festival’s Launch, Slow installation in collaboration with Interior Design students, and ReForm Festival. And in 2018, Steph brought leading Australian contemporary dance company, Dancenorth to QUT for a month-long Artist in Residence. This opportunity provided undergraduate, postgraduate and recent alumni the opportunity to participate in company class, rehearsal and for some to perform alongside the company in the Opening Ceremony of the Commonwealth Games. Steph currently supervises seven Higher Degree Research candidates. A highlight of Steph’s practice as an academic at QUT was co-leading the Ars Electronica Futurelab Academy (AEFA @QUT), a transdisciplinary project open to participants from undergraduate, postgraduate, professional staff, academics and the wider Brisbane community, including visiting artists and creative technologists. Within the AEFA @QUT throughout 2017 and 2018 Steph developed a suite of embodied practice activities to assist participants navigate creative collaboration, ideation, and the development of media art works that engaged diverse audiences in interactive media art works. Steph is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and holds a Graduate Certificate of Academic Practice.