Methodology for a preliminary research on best practices to make dance relevant for society and for its audiences

The question “How to make dance relevant?” has been a main topic in EDN activities throughout 2015 and 2016. The meeting in Athens and the Atelier in Amsterdam focused on key concepts such as the commitment of dance with the current social and political reality or the need of participation and education to create connections and increase the access to dance of new and bigger audiences.

Previous to this conference in Olot, EDN has carried out a research to look for best practices that focus -some way or another- on relevance, with the aim to create a catalogue with 25 examples that were used as working tools during the conference. The best practices have been selected for their ability to inspire. There are no universal recipes: every given context provides a different outcome. In this conference, the perspective of the analysis changed: we focused on the questions rather than on the results.

Based on linguistic analysis and labeling methodologies, Quim Bigas proposed a selection of key words and conceptual links among the different practices to co-create, with all participants, a global picture of the Catalogue.

An edited version of the catalogue has been published afterwards. The proposal by Quim Bigas was based on the working catalogue and doesn’t correspond to the published and final version.

Methodology of the preliminary research

Edited catalogue of best practices

(c) EDN

A creative working session inspired by linguistic, conceptual linking, and labelling

Aim and methodology of the session

25 cases were included in a catalogue that might face, in one way or the other, the topic of relevance in dance. Then, 25 cases talks implicitly about their way of dealing with a certain urgency with dance as one of its main agents. 25 cases are talking implicitly about institutions, responsibility and relevancy in very distinctive ways. Despite all, perhaps it’s interesting to look at the commonality of those projects and less on the singularity of those.

Being invited by the European Dancehouse Network and independent agents Mònica Pérez and Steriani Tsintziloni, I attempted to lead a session that had as a main focus the analysis and the indexation of the information that each of the cases were given. By the use of quantitative methods, we might be able to talk about the relation between those projects and the current dance policies in Europe. The session was meant to exist through an accumulation of questions as well as pointing out how the representative aspects of those cases might be playing a crucial role in the way we activate in the European dance scene.  By seeing what those cases generate in common, maybe we can talk about habits, assumptions, values and vocabulary in the field of European dance.

During the process there has been 3 different actions that are attach to this documents: a classification of the projects by initiators, scope, beneficiaries and location, the creation of 4 or 5 different groups that includes 4 or 5 projects to be discussed on a specific topic and a list of the most frequent words use inside of the catalogue.

After that procedure, many questions arise and it is precisely by observing the data that further questions can take place. Perhaps, those questions can be answer by the way each project activates itself. The possibilities of finding answers in each singular project are endless. Nevertheless, they do emanate certain answers by the juxtaposition of them together and it’s precisely that perspective which could generate stimulating further discussions.

With the wish to trigger your curiosity and after all this months, here are some of the questions that are still resonating: Are we creating a bubble inside of artistic community? How do we talk about ourselves? When do we include ourselves in the discourse and when are we excluding ourselves? Is there a discourse inside of the European dance scene which is fully inclusive? How is the representative taking a role inside of some of the standards of the different projects? Are dancehouses meant to work with the notion of projects? Who is talking about whom? Is dance something to be defend or just an umbrella for policies to take place? Are those cases generating a sense of continuation which goes further than us? Which is the role of the institution when artists are deciding to take over their role? Which is the role of artists when institutions are deciding to take over their role?… The list of questions and thoughts can go to many different directions and formulated in contrasting ways. Genuinely speaking, I’m keen on each of us finding questions, concerns, assumptions, problematics or dreams on the European dance scene while watching at those documents. Of course, is an exercise in speculation but, what would happen if our dance scene it’s like that?

At the same time, the aim of sharing these documents is to be able to keep posting questions and reflecting on the way we are using narratives which are affecting the structures of work and the way we activate inside of the European dance scene. Perhaps other projects would generate a different discourse but, what if that’s it?

(c) EDN

Indexation and possible questions

6 groups of projects were proposed together with a list of questions to trigger the discussion. Each group was proposed to read the cases and to:

  • Decide 5 words that could describe the 6 topics
  • Write 3 questions that relevant to address regarding these cases
  • Add an extra project that is not in the catalogue and that might be relevant to know

Afterwards, a dynamic for the common discussion was proposed.

You can find the 6 groups in the document below, together with the questions used to trigger the discussion.

Index of 6 groups

Frequency of words in the catalogue

1476 times: the
980 times: and
767 times: of
319 times: dance
133 times: artists
112 times: their
97 times: project
90 times: work
79-70 times: audience, we, performance, they
69-60 times: people, artistic, art
59-50 times: festival
49-40 times: contemporary, artist, workshops, performances, research
39-30 times: choreographers, school, local, process, open, development, cultural, context, professional, group, audiences, international, public, well, place, our, stage, schools, programme, experience, creation
29-20 times: together, them, social, program, own, develop, body, participants, movement, residency, how, actions, works, performing, working, theatre, education, community, young, world, space, production, I, resources, practices, practice, city, time, partners, field, educational, dialogue, active, teachers, students
19-10 times: life, choreography, sector, platform, partner, exchange, culture
9-1 times: relevant

Mercat de les Flors

Casa de la Dansa

Barcelona I Spain