About Carol Brown Dances

Carol Brown Dances is a contemporary dance company specialising in the creation of collaborative performance events.  Through a visceral poetics arising from the fugitive knowledge of the body, Carol Brown Dances strives to open alternative perspectives and engage audiences in imaginative journeys. The work of the company focuses upon solos and group works for theatre, installation, and site-responsive events.  

The company was formed in London in 1996 with the composer Russell Scoones. Following a residency at the Place Theatre in 1997-98 Carol Brown Dances has had an international presence through residencies, touring, commissions and workshops.  


Carol Brown Choreographer

Carol Brown


Carol Brown is a choreographer, performer, teacher, writer and artistic director whose work explores the cracks between art forms. Working in sustained collaborations, her body of work has evolved through dialogue and experimentation in diverse settings including urban, architectural and theatrical environments in response to questions of space, belonging and identity. 

Carol studied dance theatre with Shona Dunlop-MacTavish and Jan Bolwell in Dunedin, and completed a History Honours degree at Otago University before leaving New Zealand for Europe and North America to study contemporary dance and practice.  As a history student her biography of New Zealand's first woman lawyer, Ethel Benjamin  (1875-1943), contributed to the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography revealing her early interest in women's lives and stories.  

In London and New York Carol's independent dance studies were influenced by Julyen Hamilton, Emilyn Claid, Liz Aggiss, Lloyd Newson and Rosemary Butcher. Carol completed a Masters in Dance Studies with Distinction and then received a New Zealand Vice-Chancellor's Scholarship to complete a PhD in Choreography (practice-led) from the University of Surrey, UK.  Her doctorate concluded with the full-length solo work, The Anatomy of Reason.  Entwining the philosophy of Luce Irigaray with body poetics and a soundscore by Russell Scoones, this work subsequently toured throughout New Zealand and Europe and led to Carol being invited to become The Place Theatre's first female Choreographer in Residence.

As a performer Carol has specialised in solos through full-length works such as the durational event for art gallery environments Shelf Life, a collaboration with visual artist Esther Rolinson and sound designer Russell Scoones (Roma Europa Festival; 4+4 Days in Motion Prague).  She has danced with Rusell Maliphant, Moana Nepia, Charlie Morrissey and Becky Edmunds in duets and group works and choreographed a music video for BLUR with film-maker John Hardwick.

The choreography of Carol Brown is renowned for its conversations and collaborations with architects that challenge ideas about the spaces of and for dance.  She has worked with Stuart Dodd (Satellite) on Shelf LIfe and Nerve, with architect of virtual environments Mette Ramsgard-Thomsen on The Changing Room and SeaUnSea  (CITA, Copenhagen) and Marks Barfield Architects on Radiance and Glow (for the Lightbox, Woking).  Since the Heart of the Senses, Prague Quadrenniale 2003 Carol has developed a sustained creative dialogue with performance architect, Dorita Hannah through M_A_P (Music_Architecture_Performance).  During her NESTA Dream Time fellowship Carol was mentored by Marina Warner, leading to a cycle of works that explored mythical structures through site-responsive dance-architectures including Tongues of Stone (Perth Dancing City with STRUT) and 1000 Lovers (White Night, Auckland Arts Festival).  

Carol's work is driven by body stories and develops through an ongoing process of investigation into embodied histories and our capacity for  invention. How corporeal experience touches upon and is touched by the environments we inhabit, both technological and actual, is a constant strand.  Recent collaborations have created a strongly visual performance language through an emphasis upon  performance as an act of encounter within urban Pacific contexts (Tuna Mau, Urban Devas, PAH).  Many of these works offer audiences a choice about how to experience the work through an absence of fixed seating and the use of headphonic audio designed by Russell Scoones.

Carol has toured her work extensively throughout Europe, North and South America and Australasia and been presented by major festivals including Roma Europe, Dance Umbrella, Brighton Festival, New Zealand International Festival of the Arts, Prague Quadrenniale and 4+4 Days in Motion.

Carol has been commissioned to create large scale works for urban contexts in Barcelona, Athens, Perth, Prague, Woking and London.  She has made works for Scottish Dance Theatre, Verve, EDGE, Subcircle, Group Motion and Touch Compass. Awards for choreography include a Jerwood Prize and the Ludwig Forum International Prize for Innovation.

As a teacher Carol has taught contemporary dance technique, choreography and performance at Trinity Laban, Brighton University, Chichester University, London School of Contemporary Dance, Northern School of Contemporary Dance UK, University of the Arts Philadelphia, Roehampton University and the University of Auckland. She has been a guest teacher for Shobhana Jeyasingh Dance Company, Group Motion, Subcircle and Touch Compass and has delivered choreographic workshops throughout Europe as a British Council Artist.

Carol returned to New Zealand after a 22 year absence in 2009. She is  an Associate Professor in Dance at the University of Auckland and in July 2019 will take on a new position as Head of Dance at the University of Melbourne (VCA Dance).  The mother of two boys with partner Russell Scoones, she lives in West Auckland with her family.  

Photo Carol Brown in Sur Sur, Museum of Contemporary Art. Photo by Gonzalo Donnoso Urratia.