The influence of the ‘collective mythology’ of dance on the future of dance artists and practices

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It is safe to assume that most dance educators in Higher Education have observed students harbouring unrealistic expectations not only about the course they attend, but also their future. Students’ idealisations of the dance profession can provide an on-going subtext to their learning and engagement with dance. In this presentation we will examine the impact of the ‘collective mythology’ of dance (Wacquand, 2004) on students, lecturers and future practices. For this purpose we draw upon empirical and theoretical evidence from, firstly, a reflective portfolio collated by one of the authors when studying for a teaching qualification, secondly, the outcomes of two learning and teaching research projects involving students as partner researchers and finally, research findings of critical-feminist pedagogy theorists Susan Stinson (1993; 1998; 2005), Sherry Shapiro (1998) and Teija Löytönen (2008). Furthermore, studies examining identity construction of art students in education (Thomas and Chan, 2013) and professional artists (Bain, 2005) have informed this research.
We argue that stereotypical assumptions about dance have a significant impact on teaching, learning and the future of dance. We deliberate why a more mindful and coherent approach is required to address this situation. We appreciate that the mythology of dance might vary significantly. Nevertheless, it has to be conceded that many theorists (Bourdieu, 1983, 1993; Abbing; 2002) perceive artistic practice to be inextricably intertwined with myths and illusions. It is, therefore, likely that such myths are persistent and regular occurrences in dance education throughout Europe. Indeed, there is little evidence that this state of affairs will change without intervention. We are very interested to hear colleagues’ experiences when in the second part of the session we will discuss approaches to ‘de-mystify’ dance’ in tertiary dance education.

Requirements: seminar room, computer, projector, Smartboard, paper, post it note paper and pens



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