Our Dancing Lives: From Practice to Policy
Where do I work? How do I work? What borders do I meet in my work?
Dance Counts: A report on the living and working conditions of dance artists on the island of Ireland, brings together key findings from two major all-island research projects seeking to understand the working conditions and experiences of dance practitioners on the island of Ireland: the Dance Counts survey and the Dance Conversations study.
Led by Dr Aoife McGrath(Queen’s University Belfast) and Dr Victoria Durrer (UCD) in collaboration with Dance Ireland and Theatre and Dance NI, Dance Conversations was a mixed methods dance, film and discussion-based research project undertaken with six dance artists from both sides of the border. Six dance artists came together in three pairs (with one artist based in Northern Ireland paired with one based in the Republic of Ireland) to explore their working experiences through a process of filmed choreographic exchange and discussion. Two focus group discussions were also held, through which other dance practitioners’ responses to an early draft of the film were gathered to elicit further experiences of working in dance. Taking place in 2021, the project was supported by the Department for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media under the Cooperation with Northern Ireland Funding Scheme.
Watch the Dance Conversations Film:
The film was co-created, performed, and filmed by Yumi Lee, Aisling McCormick, Maeve McGreevy, Kelly Quigley, Laurie Schneider, Maria Svensson, co-directed by Aoife McGrath and Mary Wycherley, edited by Mary Wycherley, original composition by Jürgen Simpson. Produced by Dance Ireland and Theatre and Dance Northern Ireland, research by Aoife McGrath and Victoria Durrer. Funded by an award from the Cooperation with Northern Ireland Funding Scheme of the Department for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media.
The Dance Counts survey captures data from 2021 regarding the living and working conditions of those working in, with and for dance. Led by Dance Ireland, the survey was developed in collaboration with Dr Peter Campbell (University of Liverpool) with the support of Dr Victoria Durrer (University College Dublin, UCD).
Lead researchers Aoife McGrath (QUB), Victoria Durrer (UCD) and Peter Campbell (University of Liverpool) joined Dance Ireland and Theatre and Dance NI to reflect on emerging themes and issues as highlighted in these projects, and to share a first look at the Dance Conversations film. The event, entitled Our Dancing Lives: From Practice to Policy, took place via zoom on Friday, 5th November from 12pm – 2pm and included discussion and feedback with dance artists, arts workers, and researchers, attending online from across the island of Ireland. This event was funded by the Co-Operation with Northern Ireland funding scheme within the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media. It was co-hosted by Dance Ireland, Theatre and Dance NI and supported by Cultural Policy Observatory Ireland.
Aoife McGrath is a dance artist and Senior Lecturer in Drama at the School of Arts, English and Languages, Queen’s University Belfast. Current PaR work includes the ‘Dance Conversations’ and ‘Dance and the Maternal’ projects. Recent publications includes the co-edited special issue of Theatre Research International, 46.2 (2021) ‘Sounding Corporealities’.
Victoria Durrer is Ad Astra Research Fellow in Cultural Policy in the School of Art History and Cultural Policy at University College Dublin. Her work, primarily in stakeholder-engaged social research methods, focuses on how the spatial and relational dynamics of administration and policy both shape and are challenged by artistic practice as social, cultural, and professional endeavours. . She is Co-Founder of Cultural Policy Observatory Ireland, a network that seeks to bring arts and cultural practitioners together with researchers interested to explore concerns in cultural policymaking and research.
Peter Campbell is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Sociology, Social Policy and Criminology at the University of Liverpool working primarily in the fields of social research methods and cultural policy research. His latest monograph is entitled Persistent Creativity: Making the Case for Art, Culture and the Creative Industries