Erica Rose Jeffrey believes in the power of movement connected to positive social change. Involved in multiple communities, she has worked internationally as a performer, choreographer, educator, arts leader and facilitator. The first dancer to be selected as a Rotary World Peace Fellow, she completed a Masters in Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Queensland. Erica Rose continues to investigate the connections of dance, empathy and peace as a PhD candidate at Queensland University of Technology. She is also currently the Program Coordinator for Dance for Parkinson’s Australia and was instrumental in bringing the program to Australia.
Dance is a potential asset for peacebuilding, creating opportunities for nonverbal, embodied learning, exploring identity, and relationships. Peace scholars consider identity and relationships to the ‘other’ as key components in transforming conflict. Focusing on a case study in Mindanao, the Philippines, this paper explores the potential of dance in a peacebuilding context through embodied identity and relationships. In Mindanao, deep-seated cultural prejudices contribute to ongoing conflict entwined with identity. The permeable membrane (Cohen, Gutiérrez & Walker, 2011) is the organising framework describing the constant interaction between artists, facilitators, participants, and communities. It expands peace scholar John Paul Lederach’s concept of the moral imagination, requiring the capacity to envisage one’s self within a web of relationships. In this paper multiple methods of qualitative research including personal interviews are used to further the discussion regarding dance’s potential to diversify the nonverbal tools available for peacebuilding.
For people with Parkinson's disease, high quality dance classes led by trained professional teaching artists are becoming internationally acknowledged and valued as both a creative activity and an evidence-based therapeutic intervention. From my own dancer’s perspective, these classes are a beautiful and satisfying way to authentically share my own experience and passion for the art form in way that also connects to community.