Hopeful Dance Pedagogies: Reflection and Discussion with the Dance HE Community

‘Education is always a vocation rooted in hopefulness’

(bell hooks, Teaching Community: A Pedagogy of Hope, 2003, XIV).

Last week Central School of Ballet hosted the annual Research and Scholarship Day with this year centring on the theme of Hopeful Dance Pedagogies. Creating space for reflection and discussion together, the Research and Scholarship Day aimed to provoke, stimulate and nourish attendees dance practices and pedagogies. The event foregrounded research in ballet and dance in higher education that seeks increasingly inclusive learning environments. Presenters, including keynote speaker Erica Stanton, shared the ways in which they are putting into action, living and being, a more socially just dance education.

One participant reflected on the event: “I enjoyed the opportunity to reflect on my own practice, evaluate past experiences and shape some thoughts and ideas about future directions and possibilities. I felt inspired and uplifted and reassured that what I am passionate about has real value and a proper place to take up in the wider art field and in society in general.’

After the event, Dr Jamieson Dryburgh, Central School of Ballet’s Director of Higher Education and host of the day, shared some thoughts.

Please can you tell us more about the Research and Scholarship Day?

The day drew together academics and practitioners from across the dance HE sector to reflect on inclusive pedagogical practices. What was special about this event was the intersectional lens that was applied and the focus of hope. This meant that we were oriented towards strategies of solutions for complex questions about teaching dance in our current contexts. For example, what might it mean for us to find ways of learning that are not gender binary and how can we hear and respond to the experiences of marginalised students?

I was proud for Central to host a day that was full of warmth, depth of thinking, and honest reflection. This is what it means for teaching to be ‘research-led’. That the exploration and inquiry of leading practitioners stimulate our considerations of pedagogical practices and curriculum design. Sharing this as one community builds our awareness and alliance as the dance education sector, for the benefit of our students and the future dance ecology.

Why are events such as the research and scholarship day important?

Such events are important because they allow us, the community of dance teachers in higher education, to reflect together and draw inspiration from each other. In this way we can replenish our stocks at the end of a busy and challenging academic year, dwelling in the insights and provocations of our colleagues.