Recent Submissions

  • Steps towards decolonising contact improvisation in the university

    Ashley, Tamara (Routledge, 2023-11-24)
    To begin the work of anti-oppression and anti-racism is to start from an acknowledgment of positionality and privilege, or oppression. Mine is a privilege of a mobile life lived in many countries as well as the complexity of a multi-lineage family, with traumatic histories of migration and displacement, as well as arrival and settlement. I am of Scottish, English, Portuguese and South Asian descent, and my pronouns are she/her. I am a dancer, teacher, researcher, yoga and somatic practitioner, with degrees from universities in the UK and USA. I have focused my work in somatic practice, contact improvisation, yoga, bodywork and contemporary dance through the lenses of critical pedagogy and ecological justice for over twenty years. I have been interested in how oppressions intersect and how harm is perpetuated across minorities and marginalised populations as well as the planet itself. As a teacher, I also believe that practices such as contact improvisation, provide contexts in which critical, activist and reflective processes of individual and social transformation can occur through the engagement with the form itself. Decolonising the practice of such a form is a logical extension of a critically engaged pedagogy and becomes essential to an ethical anti-racist teaching practice when it is acknowledged how racism permeates every aspect of social, cultural and political life.
  • Art in water and sanitation research in Nepal: a performance with sanitation workers

    Macpherson, Hannah; Fox, Alice; Ranjit, Ashmina; Church, Andrew (Sage, 2023-06-12)
    This paper documents and discusses the creation of a performance (dance and song) by 12 sanitation workers in Nepal working with artists Alice Fox (UK) and Ashmina Ranjit (Nepal). This creative work was one element within an international, interdisciplinary research programme that explored shit flow, wastewater and marginality in five rapidly developing off-grid towns. Performed at the Lumbini Peace Park as part of the 2022 Women of the World Festival, an important objective of the work was raising awareness of issues affecting sanitation workers, who are among the most precarious workers in the world. Using photos and artist commentary, ‘we’ (geographers and artists) show how the performance (un)seen (un)clean opened a creative space through which to engage and circulate the lived experiences of workers.
  • The tangible and intangible: dance and the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage

    Carr, Jane (EUP, 2023-06-01)
    This article returns to issues raised in the pages of Dance Research regarding UNESCO’s 2003 adoption of the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. Bakka and Karoblis’ article published in 2021 refuted the proposal made by Iacono and Brown in 2016 to replace the Convention’s term ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage’ (ICH) with the concept of ‘living cultural heritage’. I examine both articles to propose how the discourses surrounding safeguarding ICH and those that consider dance as a significant part of culture might inform one another. The discussion draws on findings from a project led by Dr. Violet Cuffy, a Creole specialist in the field of tourism, that drew together researchers, policy makers and practitioners to explore approaches to safeguarding Creole Intangible Cultural Heritage. These highlighted what Bakka and Karoblis emphasise as the importance of UNESCO’s aims to counterbalance cultural and economic inequalities, the impact of which threaten the sustainability of many older traditions, particularly in what they refer to as the ‘global south’. However, by drawing on my experiences as a dancer and dance teacher, born and educated in the UK, I suggest that, even in this economically privileged part of the globe, the cultural significance of dancing is all too often undervalued and significant dance practices are vulnerable to being irretrievably lost. I argue that for both dance and ICH a continued (dualist) privileging of mind over body informs a powerful episteme which shapes the language and implementation of the policies intended to sustain them. In response, I emphasise the importance of those strategies that support the activities and interactions which facilitate the continuation of practices and which recognise the necessity of those debates that interrogate the changes in those practices.
  • Sustainable arts and health: the role of a university in facilitating an intergenerational, interdisciplinary community arts project

    Farrer, Rachel; Douse, Louise Emma; Aujla, Imogen; University of Bedfordshire (University of Georgia, 2022-03-31)
    There is growing interest in the use of intergenerational practice in arts and health to support psychological well-being and community cohesion. However, little research has addressed the facilitation of such projects, or how higher education institutions can support them. Here we examine the role of the University of Bedfordshire in Generations Dancing, an 11-week dance and photography project for older adults and young people in Bedford. Focus groups were conducted with the older adults, young people, artists, independent living centre leaders, and schoolteachers involved. Inductive content analysis highlighted the university’s role in brokering between community sectors, promoting the project, and offering resources. These factors appeared to play a significant part in enabling the project to develop beyond what smaller organizations working independently might have achieved, and in facilitating a sustainable model for its perpetuation.
  • Understanding the impact of an intergenerational arts and health project: a study into the psychological well-being of participants, carers and artists

    Farrer, Rachel; Aujla, Imogen; Jenkins, Lindsay K.; University of Bedfordshire; Coventry University (Elsevier, 2021-04-18)
    There is growing interest in arts practices in relation to public health, including their potential to support psychological well-being. This study sought to understand the impact of Hear and Now, an intergenerational arts and health project, upon indicators of psychological well-being among all groups involved: young people, older people with a diagnosis of dementia and their carers and partners and the project's artistic team. This was a descriptive exploratory qualitative study, using focus groups and observation as data collection methods. Study participants were 65 people representing the four groups participating in the 2019 Hear and Now project: older adults living with a diagnosis of dementia, their carers and partners, young people and a team of professional artists and facilitators. Of these, 27 participated in one or more of seven focus groups. Participants were asked about their previous engagement with music and dance, thoughts about the intergenerational element of the project and other aspects of their experiences that related to indicators of well-being. In order to investigate the project's impact on participants' well-being, Seligman's PERMA model was adopted, which sets out five indicators of well-being: positive emotions, engagement, positive relationships, meaning and achievement/accomplishment. Experiences relating to all five areas of the PERMA model were evidenced by all groups in relation to their involvement in the project. Additional health benefits were also cited by some, as well as enhanced perceptions of other members of the project cohort. The findings support existing literature that intergenerational and arts activities can be beneficial for individuals' psychological health. Experiences relating to all five dimensions of the PERMA model of well-being (positive emotion, engagement, positive relationships, meaning, achievement/accomplishment) were cited by the four participant groups, which suggests examining the impact of such projects on all project collaborators is worthy of further study. Understanding the impact these projects can have on the various groups involved will enable artistic and healthcare communities to better collaborate and value each other's practices.
  • The negotiation of significance in dance performance: a model for human interaction in the context of difference

    Carr, Jane (Boomsbury, 2020-11-29)
    This chapter explores how dance may be appreciated in a contemporary context in which it can no longer be assumed that performers and audience make sense of dancing with reference to a shared culture. Writing from my position as a former dancer and now dance academic, I draw upon my experiences of dancing, researching and teaching dance with the aim of proposing some avenues ripe for philosophical investigation. Emphasizing that dancing is a communicative phenomenon, I argue that the philosophy of Maurice Merleau-Ponty provides welcome recognition of the human capacity for intersubjective, embodied experience which is of key importance to engagement with dancing as meaningful. I propose how the significance of dance performance might be understood through a process of negotiation grounded in intercorporeal experience. However, I recognize the challenge of difference – in relation to gender, sexualities, and/or cultures and abilities - to the self-other relationships which sustain such negotiations. Finally, I situate these reflections within the broader field of philosophical aesthetics to consider the potential of such encounters to contribute to aesthetic values attributed to dance.
  • Improvisation and the Earth: dancing in the moment as ecological practice

    Ashley, Tamara (Oxford University Press, 2019-04-09)
    In the chapter, I draw upon artistic practice research to discuss the construction of improvisation scores as a deeply site-sensitive, time-sensitive and person-sensitive process that leads to the construction of specific micro-relations that connect specific practitioners to specific places on the earth. These micro-relations manifest as mindful actions in the detailed cultivation of the earth as a score, where the artists can become concerned with the relational dimensions of their actions in terms of sustainability. I propose that the cultivation of mindfulness and explicit intention of each and every gesture as a contribution to the cultivation of the earth as score is where the ethical work of the artists resides. The chapter offers a broad, questioning and critical perspective on how the practices of improvisation might contribute to the development of a future dance ecology that is both sustainable and inter-connected. Dance improvisation is thus proposed as an activist and applied practice that enables the experiential examination of ecologically sensitive relations, and I assert that the future of the dance ecology is entwined with how we relate to and embody the places in which dance is made.
  • Mapping lineage: lineage maps by improvisation artists

    Ashley, Tamara (Guildford Street Press, 2018-08-01)
    The Mapping Lineage book documents the artistic lineages of post-modern dance artists. Maps were collected at the Form in Question symposium at New York University in January 2016.
  • Dance Digital Education APP

    Ashley, Tamara; Vom Kothen, K.; NESTA (NESTA, 2015-12-31)
    Report on the creation and testing phases of the dancedigital education app that was funded by Arts Council and NESTA
  • ECITE 2018 in Belgium

    Ashley, Tamara; European Contact Improvisation Teacher Exchange (Contact Collaborations, 2019-01-01)
    Report for the main journal in the field on the event where I was given a funded place to attend in order to document and report on the event.
  • Mapping lineage

    Ashley, Tamara (Contact Collaborations, 2018-01-01)
    Journal article that documents the process of creating the book by the same title.
  • Yielding as an ecologically sensitive and somatic practice

    Ashley, Tamara (2019-03-20)
    These yielding practices are designed to anchor your perception of nature in your senses. They enable you to focus on different senses in the natural environment and observe the emerging relationships. Most practices in this Toolkit are available as recordings, which you can listen to through your device or headphones. However, to benefit most from the sensory immersion in a natural environment that the yielding practice advocates, we recommend that you read the PDF script in advance (link below), print it, and then go outdoors with this score as your guide. Take your time with each invitation: perhaps only try 1 or 2 of the practices at first. Repetition of the practices can be helpful in observing changing perceptual and experiential relationships with nature over time.
  • Dynamics of rest: more reflections on somatic practice, pain and resting

    Ashley, Tamara (2020-09-21)
    I am going to look at the dynamics of rest in embodied practice. In particular, I look at the interplay between doing and not doing in somatic practice, in pain and trauma contexts. My reflections are situated in my practice as a yoga, dance and somatic teacher.
  • The impact of an intergenerational dance project on older adults' social and emotional well-being

    Douse, Louise Emma; Farrer, Rachel; Aujla, Imogen; ; University of Bedfordshire (Frontiers, 2020-09-16)
    There has been strong interest in intergenerational arts practice in the United Kingdom since the 1980s; however, there is a generally weak evidence base for the effectiveness of intergenerational practice regardless of the domain. The aim of this study was to investigate the outcomes of an intergenerational arts project on participants’ social and psychological well-being using a mixed-methods, short-term longitudinal design. Generations Dancing brought together community artists with students (n = 25) and older adults (n = 11) living in Bedford. Over an 11-week period, participants worked together to produce a new dance performance and photography exhibition. Focus groups were conducted with the participants to explore their feelings about the collaboration across generations and communities. Participants also completed a battery of questionnaires preproject and postproject, to assess any change in their levels of well-being. Results indicate that the older adults showed increased confidence and willingness to connect with others; they got immense enjoyment from talking about their experience with others. Furthermore, the project helped to address negative stereotypes that the older adults had of working with the young people. The older adults enjoyed the students’ company and felt encouraged and supported by the young people. While a small number of challenges were identified, including difficulties in traveling to the workshops for vulnerable participants, most challenges were overcome through the older adults’ engagement in the project. For example, initial anxieties regarding the performance seemed insufficient to affect the participants’ overall enjoyment of the project. The findings were supported by the increased scores in relatedness, affect, and social well-being over time, but were not statistically significant. The results of this study indicate that intergenerational dance and arts projects can have wide-reaching positive impacts on both social and psychological well-being. However, there were a number of methodological challenges, including difficulty in recruiting sufficient numbers of both experimental and control groups for a robust quantitative evaluation of the data. These challenges highlight that “real life” settings and scenarios can influence the amount, nature, validity, and reliability of data collected. Going forward we encourage researchers to continue to consider innovative ways to address such methodological challenges.
  • Development of a performance evaluation tool to track progress in an inclusive dance syllabus

    Needham-Beck, Sarah; Aujla, Imogen (Routledge, 2020-03-30)
    The lack of systematic training available for young dancers with disabilities has previously presented a barrier for those wishing to develop their skills and pursue a career in dance. Recently, a number of initiatives have launched to help bridge this gap; however, currently no established assessment measures exist that are sensitive to the needs of young dancers with disabilities while providing evidence of their competencies. The aim of this study was to develop a performance evaluation tool to allow tracking of progress in technique and performance skills in young dancers with a range of physical and/or intellectual disabilities. The tool allows scoring on a Likert-type scale on eleven criteria, including control of movement, coordination, spatial awareness, timing and rhythm, and surface or partner work. Six dancers were filmed during classes to allow retrospective evaluation of their performance by four judges. Intra-Class Correlation Coefficients (ICCs) for inter-rater and test–retest reliability demonstrated good reliability. Inconsistencies in scoring reduced and ICCs strengthened when trial one was removed from analysis; therefore, a familiarisation trial is recommended for future uses of this tool. Overall, this appears to be a reliable tool for evaluating elements of dance technique and performance in young dancers with disabilities.
  • The practice of solidarity through the arts: inter-relations and shared moments of creation in Share My Table

    Evans, Catrin; (Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, 2019-07-14)
    In 2017 the Scottish Refugee Council and Tramway embarked on a collaborative participatory arts project seeking to explore the upsurge in media coverage around issues of migration. Share My Table took a multi-artform approach, with performance and visual art providing the foundation for the exploration. This article, written from the position of artist researcher, shifts the lens away from the artistic or performance outputs of this participatory project, and instead reflects and theorises the working practices which emerged throughout the Share My Table project. By drawing on bell hooks’s work on practices of freedom (1994), and James Thompson’s call for a re-focusing towards affect, beauty and care (2011, 2015), the author argues for participatory practice’s radical potential. Ultimately, the how of participatory work, the careful and ethical attention on the doing can activate solidarity in relation to the asylum regime.
  • Dance, diaspora and the role of the archives: a dialogic reflection upon the Black Dance Arcives Project (UK)

    Carr, Jane; Baddoo, Deborah; University of Bedfordshire; State of Emergency Productions (Edinburgh University Press Ltd, 2020-05-01)
    The Black Dance Archives project collected materials that record the activities of black British artists who created and performed dance predominantly in the later years of the twentieth century. Through the form of a dialogue we bring the perspective of the dance producer who led the project together with a more academic interest in the potential of the materials collected to contribute to dance research. Our shared reflections reveal how a focus on archiving the work of dance artists of diasporic heritage emphasizes that dance, as a form of intangible cultural heritage, is particularly vulnerable to becoming lost to future generations. This leads to reflections upon the role of dance archives within the context of post-colonial Britain that brings to the fore some of the complexities of the archival process and the significance of how this project resulted in materials being dispersed across different institutions.
  • Book review: Joanna Dee Das, Katherine Dunham: Dance and the African Diaspora

    Carr, Jane (Edinburgh University Press, 2019-05-31)
    Review of Katherine Dunham Dance and the African Diaspora Joanna Dee Das, Oxford University Press, 2017 9780190264871
  • Dancing brains: dance as a key motivator for success in mathematics

    Pugh, Kathryn; University of Bedfordshire (2018-08-01)
    A growing body of research supports the notion that dance enhances cognitive function as well as providing an enjoyable means of learning, as evidenced by recent news items and experiments such as that of Professor Michael Duncan of Coventry University as shown in the recent BBC documentary ‘The Truth About Getting Fit’ (BBC 50:43-57:00) where dance was declared “unusually beneficial” (Michael Mosley, 50:47) for the brain. Lynnette Overby, Beth Post and Diane Newman espouse the “bodies-on” nature of interdisciplinary dance stating that dance is: Uniquely suited to support conceptual learning because the dance vocabulary is expressed in terms of the body, space, time, and force – concepts also fundamental to understanding the universe (2005, Preface xi). Other scholars such as Anne Watson, Anne Green-Gilbert (BrainDance) and Eric Jensen, and on-going programmes such as Learning Through the Arts and Project Zero support the notion that dance is beneficial for the mind and useful as a means of interdisciplinary learning. In addition, neuroscience research shows that 85% of learners are predominantly kinesthetic learners (Jensen, 2010) and the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities agrees that there are: Documented significant links between arts integration models and academic and social outcomes for students, efficacy for teachers, and school-wide improvements in culture and climate (PCAH 2011 in Wheeler and Bogard 2013, p.4). In my action research project carried out in Primary Schools in Canada, using a quasi-experimental approach and pre-/post data, it was clear that the increase in motivation to learn, along with increase in attainment was evident with students also enjoying both subjects more than they anticipated or experienced prior. In this paper, therefore, I will explore the notion of an equal interdisciplinary partnership of dance and mathematics that increases motivation and enhances learning in both subjects.

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