Kristin Tovson graduated with a Master’s of Fine Arts degree from Arizona State University. As a dancer, she has performed primarily in New York and Boston working with Sara Sweet Rabidoux/hoi polloi. She is the recipient of a 2009-10 Fulbright grant to collaborate with Berlin-based artist Thomas Lehmen, researching choreographic forms and improvisational tools and making a new piece while living in Berlin for the year. She continues to be inspired by her work with dance in a variety of community arts contexts and hopes to continue documenting the importance of community-based work.
This paper focuses on several issues in North American community dance; primarily its role in university education, and the influence of community dance on the art form of contemporary dance itself. Written from the personal perspective of a graduate student and community practitioner, the paper seeks to examine ways in which community arts methodologies are contributing to the evolution of innovative and trans-disciplinary curricula, while also touching upon some of the philosophical and aesthetic divisions that persist between professional concert dance and the community dance worlds.
The paper was originally presented on 15 July 2008, in conjunction with my colleagues Mary Fitzgerald and Satu Hummasti, as part of a panel discussion at the World Dance Alliance Global Summit, entitled Issues in Community Dance. Our panel sought to present a historical context of American contemporary dance and community practices, while also investigating certain aesthetic and educational values of the art form and its practice within this context. Within this frame, I chose to present a personal account of my experiences as a student, facilitator and community dance practitioner.