Exploring identities in dance Proceedings from the 13th World Congress of Dance and the Child International

In This Article

The 13th World Congress of Dance and the Child International (daCi) was held 5–10 July 2015 in Copenhagen Denmark hosted by the Dance Halls, Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports, University of Copenhagen and the Danish National School of Performing Arts.

The World Congress explored the theme of identity in dance as it is experienced in formal, non-formal and informal settings of education. The program included a variety of activities and presentation formats such as Nordic Dance Flavour workshops, invited keynotes, Creative Meeting Points, Twin Labs, Youth Forums, Professional Forums, papers, panels, roundtables, research and dance workshops, project dialogues, lecture sharing, performances of young people and professional companies.

Dance is part of four recognised artistic areas within arts education, which is acknowledged as a key area within UNESCO’s 21st Century Skills. Dance education, in particular, puts an emphasis on the role of the body in artistic processes, and the body is in current research in educational studies, psychology and neurophysiology highlighted as being the ‘place’ where experiences, cognition and identity processes are grounded. A person’s identity is multi-faceted and believed to be constantly developing in intertwinement with embodied and cultural experiences, social relations and the various situations that the human being experiences. This understanding of identity formed the base for the Congress presentations to explore:

  • How can we comprehend and describe identity in the 21st Century? 
  • What kinds of identity are experienced and expressed in dance practice of young people around the world today? 
  • What role does dance play for young people to define and perceive their own and others’ identities? 
  • How do professionals working with dance and young people comprehend and articulate their own professional identity? 

Following the event, authors of papers, panels, and project dialogues were invited to submit their contributions for these proceedings, the second that are published online by Ausdance National. The submissions are organised into the themes of the congress program: Embodiment, Empowerment, Assessment, and Education. In addition, there are a few special papers: two papers that report research as recipients of the Across Borders Research Fund from daCi, and one Roundtable report that followed a keynote and the Youth Forums report.

We appreciate the support of all those who made these proceedings a possibility and hope that you will enjoy reading.

Susan R. Koff and Charlotte Svendler Nielsen, co-editors and co-chairs of the congress committee for papers, panels, and project dialogues.

Embodiment, learning and ‘DANNELSE’

What can the role of dance be in identity development and learning of young people? What are experiences of the body, culture and gender in dance? What kinds of bodies dance? What are essential skills in digitalized societies where even dancers ‘dance’ together in cyberspace, and what role does the body and the brain play in the future of learning and communication? What role does the social dimension play? Why is twinning a growing focus of political organisations occupied with learning? And how can young people develop positively as human beings through dance and collaborative practices? How does ‘personal education’ (‘DANNELSE’ in Danish) through dance come about in formal, non-formal and informal settings as defined by UNESCO?

Research papers

Empowerment and well-being

What is the role of dance in processes of personal development and holistic well-being? How can dance be used as a means for young people to express themselves physically, emotionally and creatively? Can dance give young people opportunities to develop new senses of self in problematic and even catastrophic circumstances? 

Research papers

Project dialogues

Assessment, research and evaluation tools

When dance is believed to be a site for identity development how do we then ‘measure’ competencies in dance? What is quality in dance education? And who decides what quality is in this area? How can we assess and evaluate dance learning from a multi-faceted perspective? What research methodologies in dance education will promote knowledge about embodied experiences and identity processes? How can the voices of young people be included in research? 

Special events


Across Borders projects

Youth Forums

Education, professions and policymaking

How can educational frameworks and policies contribute to the development of competencies and professional identities in dance education—for dancers and for teachers? Does it make sense to distinguish between the art forms in education, or is the label of ‘arts education’ more fruitful for future practice and political attention to how dance as part of the arts plays a role in identity development? 

Research panels

Research papers

Project dialogues