The CultureMoves LabDays in November

The interdisciplinary character of CultureMoves brings together dance artists, researchers, students, technologists and the tourism sector. C-DaRE (COVUNI) has a large network that makes it possible to bring experts from these fields into the project.C-DaRE has been working closely with its key stakeholders to ensure that the LabDays were not only well attended but also inclusive of several voices from the dance, education and cultural heritage tourism sectors. Through the inclusion of these diverse voices in the LabDays, the consortium has gained an increased understanding of the current assumptions of the ways in which dance and digital technologies and the Europeana database (and its content) might be used in teaching and within choreographic and performance studies and in turn, the rich possibilities for intersections between dance, tourism and education through the use of such technologies.

The work carried out in the C-DaRE LabDays enhances academic knowledge production and rethinks the ways in which dance academics, learners, artists, producers and cultural heritage and tourism organisations might reuse Europeana thematic dance content. In addition, the LabDays (and their format of open panel conversations) ensure that participatory-driven research is at the core of the work carried out at this stage of the project. Several starting-point questions were used as a springboard for discussion during the two LabDays:
  • What are some of the challenges that a dance artist must consider when working in site and to what extent should the site influence and shape the work? 
  • What are some of the benefits of working outdoors and with the public?
  • Is there a relationship between dance, public spaces and tourism?

For the two LabDays, C-DaRE engaged with key stakeholders with a range of profiles and experience: choreographers, dance artists, dance researchers, dance educators, dance students (undergraduate and postgraduate), and outdoor arts practitioners. C-DaRE chose to aim their first LabDay at dance students and cultural heritage and dance organisations in the region, holding their first LabDay in Birmingham, UK on 15th November 2018. This took the format of an open panel conversation between choreographer Rosie Kay, Artistic Director of DanceXchange and Artistic Lead for BIDF2018, Lucie Mirkova, and Executive Director of DanceXchange, Clare Lewis to discuss dance, cities and working within site-based, festival contexts. The context of the ten-year growth of BIDF (Birmingham International Dance Festival) framed the conversation, which drew out questions of how dance makers, artists, producers and commissioners approach site-based dance work and how key relationships can develop between dancers, arts and cultural heritage organisations within a festival context.

The second LabDay, held at C-DaRE (Coventry University, UK) on 19th November 2018, was geared towards dance researchers, professional dance artists and festival producers and organisers. This event began with an illustrated talk by Senior Research Fellow, artist and choreographer Rosemary Lee, followed by a panel discussion on dance, cities and communities with Natalie Garrett Brown (Sensing the City), Jane Hytch (CEO, Imagineer Productions) and Sara Wookey (dance artist, researcher and C-DaRE PhD candidate). Again, the rich three-hour discussion drew out questions of how artists approach site-work. Key questions raised included how dance artists and students might engage with city planners and cultural policy-makers, and how dance artists might ‘claim’ tourism and the touristic gaze. The panel described how while economically driven agendas may have huge impact on culture and tourism, dance - with its emphasis on flow and flux - might be a valuable means of making connections in the fragmented cities here in the UK’s current socio-political context.

In addition to the discussions that took place at the LabDays, the “Dance, Memory, Space and Trace” photographic exhibition was co-created by a number of key stakeholders. C-DaRE was keen to transform the space for the LabDays and allow the invited artists and panel members to showcase one image from their practice or previous projects. In preparing these LabDays, it emerged that there were many visuals that conveyed aspects of projects and moments that revealed highly emotional, political or social interactions between the dancer and the place and or the public. This point felt like an important aspect to build on and to capture, which then encouraged the C-DaRE team to ask the artists to contribute a memory which was connected to the image or the project they were going to be speaking about during the LabDay. As the team disseminated the CMoves LabDays and mentioned the ideas of artists offering images and a memory, more and more key stakeholders were intrigued and wanted to contribute to the collection. As a result, the “Dance, Memory, Space and Trace” photo exhibition is an ongoing, open exhibition that is constantly evolving. The exhibition is mobile and will be taken to future CultureMoves events, where possible. 

To date, the two LabDays have enabled COVUNI to i) engage in in-depth consultation with key stakeholders and ii) begin to identify the key questions and assumptions that underlie existing and potential collaborations between the dance research / education and tourism sectors. This in turn prepares the terrain for exploring how Europeana’s dance content can be useful for the intersection of dance research / education and tourism. We look forward to the project’s third LabDay at FST in Italy in January to see how the findings from the November events might be further explored, challenged and developed.

[*The above information is part of a larger White Paper that will be publicly available in January 2019].