EDN's online conference was an occasion to connect with colleagues, artists and peers working in the contemporary dance sector in Europe in an engaging programme of participatory movement practices, conversation sessions, presentations, and keynotes by forward-looking representatives working towards a more equitable future of contemporary dance.


Holding Space

As the world has become more aware of patterns of inequity and inequality that cover our landscape, there has been a pursuit to correct what has been askew for a long time. From the streets to the halls of education there is a call for something else, something more.

Dr. Aminata Cairo uses the concept of stories and sees the pursuit of inclusive education as the pursuit to expand our collective story. Although many believe this to be a noble cause, actually changing how we do things remains difficult. In her presentation Dr. Cairo takes the audience on a journey to explore what makes the pursuit of inclusion so challenging and will challenge the audience to think about what it really requires.

Tools for Reflection


On the occasion of the online conference, EDN released the research publication Equity in Working Conditions in Dance by Dr. Alexandra Baybutt. The publication addresses a shared need to name and rename the key words in power. It describes three key tensions in dance exacerbating inequitable working conditions and introduces tools for organisational and individual reflection. It draws upon examples of good (and bad) practices in professional organisation and communication when trying to create equitable spaces in collaborative settings.

Tools for Practice

The audience was invited to move and take part in an engaging mix of participatory practices, including Tobi Balogun's Bounce, a digital version of Monica Gillette's participatory reflection "What does this have to do with me?", and Joy Mariama Smith's guided reflection on our own positionality and how it can shift depending on the context. 

Policy Q&A

The conference programme included a Q&A session with very special guests, Barbara Stacher & Monica Urian, policy officers at the European Commission, whose work focuses on cultural and creative professionals’ working conditions and health. This was a unique opportunity to engage with experts who are at the forefront of shaping policies related to culture in Europe.

An inspiring source of information is the report of the EU Open Method of Coordination (OMC) group of Member States’ experts on ‘The status and working conditions of artists and cultural and creative professionals’.

Artists and their Allies

Many dance institutions are going through structural transformations to facilitate access for disabled artists and disabled audiences. How can they become a genuine ally? How can artists with disabilities nurture meaningful and effective engagements with institutional allies? What potential risks are hidden behind the integration of the disability rights movement into artistic institutional frameworks?

Search for answers in the recording below. English subtitles and transcript are available.






in order of appearance


Tobi Balogun is a multidisciplinary Artist. Creative director of Black Canvas Curations. As movement director he has worked with Louise White, John Scott, Felispeaks and with music artists Burna Boy and Ed Sheeran among others. In 2023 he presented ‘Ara’ a mixed media exhibition as part of PhotoIreland festival 2023. He has been awarded a CCI residency for March 2024. He will be exploring the creation of experimental work fusing his Nigerian/Irish heritage in a durational performance bringing together dance and fabric sculpture.





Kerstin Evert (EDN Co-President, K3 – Zentrum für Choreographie) founded the choreographic center K3 in Hamburg in August 2006, and has been the director of K3 – Zentrum für Choreographie | Tanzplan Hamburg since then. She works as a lecturer at universities in Berlin, Bern, Gieβen, Hamburg, Frankfurt/Main and Salzburg, among other places, and she is member of several juries and advisory boards.




© Agnès Mellon

Laurent Meheust (EDN Co-President, Le Gymnase / CDCN) is director of Le Gymnase / CDCN (Roubaix / France), and develops international projects connecting to the residencies program and annual festivals. He previously took part in the construction of KLAP Maison pour la danse in Marseille and worked as guest lecturer at the Université de Provence for the License and Masters in Cultural Mediation and in the Art and Cultural Heritage programmes.





Aminata Cairo (PhD) is an anthropologist, psychologist, educator, storyteller, “love-worker”. She is an independent consultant “who works with people”. She is the former lector of Inclusive Education at The Hague University of Applied Sciences. She is the only lector of African descent in the Netherlands. Since 2022 she is the Lector (research professor) of Social Justice and Diversity in the Arts at the Amsterdam University of the Arts. Her work is exemplified in her book: Holding Space: A Storytelling Approach to Trampling Diversity and Inclusion (2021).




© Lisa Ross

Monica Gillette is a dance dramaturg and facilitator. After dancing professionally she now shapes innovative projects with dance as a pathway for social engagement and multigenerational cultural exchange. As a dramaturg she accompanies several European funded projects – Migrant Bodies - Moving Borders (2017-2019), Empowering Dance (2018-2023), Dancing Museums - The Democracy of Beings (2020-2021), Dance Well (2022-2025) and Moving Borders - (2023-2025). She works at Tanzhaus Zürich as a dramaturg and transformation coach.





Barbara Stacher is a Senior Expert at the European Commission's Directorate-General for Education and Culture (DG EAC)’s Cultural Policy Unit. Her field of work is cultural policy making, in particular the crossroads of cultural and creative sectors/ industries/spaces and how to contribute in terms of city and regional development, social inclusion, job creation, participation, linking up creative sectors and policy-makers, creative hubs and cultural and creative spaces and helped to set up the CreativesUnite platform. She also works on cultural and creative industries, innovation and finance concerning policies as well as projects. She focuses also on artists’ and creative professionals' working conditions in her work with the OMC (Open Method of Coordination) EU Member States’ expert group and beyond.



Monica Urian is policy officer at the European Commission – Directorate General Education and Culture, responsible for international cultural relations, artistic freedom and culture, health and well-being. She was previously the programme manager in the same EU institution responsible for the ‘audience development’ priority within the Creative Europe Programme – Culture. Before joining the European Commission, Monica worked in the private and public sector in Belgium, France, Portugal and the USA. She graduated in international economic relations and European studies from the Babes-Bolyai University in Cluj Napoca, Romania, as well as at the College of Europe in Bruges, Belgium. She is passionate about arts, culture, indigenous peoples, travelling and nature.



Stefania Di Paolo is an independent thinker, curator, communicator, consultant, and disability activist. She is the curator for the section "Accessibility" within the project Hangar Piemonte, a culture shift agency that guides art institutions in making strategic decisions to adopt structural changes. As a consultant, Stefania helps dance institutions, curators, and artists embrace access as a core feature of their work. Stefania is a PhD research scholar in Performance and Cultural Industries at the University of Leeds. She is the founder and curator of the digital platform TalkwithDance, a project to support the Italian dance community by providing a space for self-reflection and audience engagement.




Francesca Cortese is a project manager, fundraiser and community manager. Her work is to make cultural spaces and artistic contents accessible to different audiences, building relationships and dialogue between artists, performances and spectators. Since 2021 she has been the Accessibility manager of Spazio Kor (AT), a cultural center for performing arts with the co-direction of Chiara Bersani and Giulia Traversi. She works coordinating the process between guest artists and Al.di.Qua Artists Association in order to identify the most effective solutions to make shows accessible to people with sensory and physical disabilities or people with neurodivergence.



© Andrea Macchia

Chiara Organtini (EDN Board Member, Lavanderia a Vapore) is a curator and project creator, passionate about interdisciplinary art and public space, from site-specific interventions, digital experiments or participatory works that question traditional genres and the notion of spectatorship. Since 2022 she has been the project manager and artistic director of the Lavanderia a Vapore di Collegno (TO), European Dancehouse and Residence Center of the Piedmont Region managed by the Piemonte dal Vivo Foundation.




© Lavina Pollack

A native Philadelphian currently based in Amsterdam, NL, Joy Mariama Smith’s work primarily addresses the conundrum of projected identities in various contexts. A sub-theme, or ongoing question in their work is: What is the interplay between the body and its physical environment? Rooted in socially engaged art practice, they are a performance/installation/movement artist, activist, facilitator, curator, researcher, dramaturg and architectural designer. They have a strong improvisational practice spanning over 20 years. When they choose to teach, they actively try to uphold inclusive spaces.



© Ilme Vysniauskaite

Alexandra Baybutt (PhD, RSME, CMA) works in dance professionally since 2004, and engages in research, somatic movement education, and artistic practice in the UK and Europe. Projects include exploring embodiment as an ethics of encounter for the Institute of Advanced Studies, UCL (2022); effects of Brexit and Covid-19 on the independent dance scenes of the UK (2021); and analysing curation of contemporary dance festivals in the former Yugoslav space (monograph published by Routledge, 2023).





Christian Guerematchi is a creator and performer with a ballet and contemporary background and is one of the artists in residence at ICK Artist Space. In his work, Guerematchi looks at how fragments of history carry black culture further. He did this in 2022 with the piece 'Hissy Fit' in which he viewed the resounding echo of the LA Riots in 1992 from the afro pessimism of author Frank B. Wilderson III. With 'N.A.M.: 'Non Aligned Movement' in 2020, Guerematchi created an afro-futuristic world in which he unraveled the meaning of black European identity as black president Tito of Yugoslavia.




Kristin de Groot works as an independent consultant, fundraiser/writer and confidential counsellor. With her practice, she wishes to empower people working in the cultural sector and contribute to an equitable, healthy and safe working place. Before starting her independent practice, Kristin worked for over 35 years in the field of dance; as a dancer, mentor, dramaturg, artistic advisor, study leader, curator and lastly as director of Dansateliers, Rotterdam.





This conference was brought to you by EDN - European Dance Development Network as part of the networking and advocacy activities of its EU-funded project 101053456 EDNext