Contributor profile: Elyssia Bugg


I grew up with dance and criticism. My mother is a dance teacher who can spot a sickled foot at twenty yards. I learnt to dance, but was never a dancer. I studied creative writing at RMIT. I edited student publications and graduated thinking that I wanted to be a filmmaker. I like words and movement. I thought film was the perfect synthesis of these things. I started working on an animation project that I’m still, slowly, trying to complete.

I applied to participate in a a RealTime review-writing workshop at the 2014 Next Wave festival. I thought, “I can write about dance.” This thought had not occurred to me previously. I took part in the workshop and wondered why I had ever pretended I was anything other than a dance teacher’s daughter with a good grasp on syntax and rhythm and tone. Since then I have continued to write for RealTime. I am studying art history at The University of Melbourne, and am assisting as a sub-editor for the department’s .jpg Art Journal. I love dance and art and words and film, and I want to make it as a critic, whatever that means.


I like criticism because it speaks to something directly and indirectly. It necessitates dialogue with a strange temporal logic to it. There is distance and there is the sense that the task at hand might be impossible; in fact, it certainly is, when looked at from a particular angle. If you assume that the role of the critic is to apprehend the object of critique exactly as it was in a given moment then you have misplaced faith in the tractability of language. No experience holds up when siphoned into words. But this is the real joy of criticism. In the translation from physical actuality to textual realisation, the thing becomes something else all together. This new thing is neither text, nor object or performance. It exists in the space that contradiction opens between the two. It’s the energy required to transmit ideas out into the world, and it’s the crackle of reception or interception as they make contact. For me, this exchange is thrilling.


Recent articles for RealTime

Supersense: Ecstasy sought, partly met: Elyssia Bugg
Polyphonic Social: sacred & other resonances: Elyssia Bugg
Divercity makes community: Elyssia Bugg
Lauren Simonds, Unseen: A glorious revelation: Elyssia Bugg



13 September 2017