Empowering Dance – The Soft Skills Teaching and Learning Approach is a two year research project that has investigated how soft skills in dance practice can be identified, articulated and shared with others, as well as positively impact the confidence of those engaging with dance practice.
How we take care of others, deal with uncertainty and complexity and how we negotiate space are just some of the essential human skills, also known as soft skills, that we develop while dancing. These are regarded as some of the most important skills currently needed in society.
For this reason the project has developed a digital guidebook for dance artists, such as choreographers, dance makers and dance teachers, to recognise and communicate the soft skills living in their artistic practice, especially for those working in community and participatory settings.
This resource was created to support the dance artist not only within the dance profession, but also in other fields of work beyond dance. The project builds on the experiences of earlier initiatives (Communicating Dance and Empowering Dance – Developing Soft Skills).
The Empowering Dance team continues to offer workshops internationally and online. If you are interested in a workshop please contact us at: email@example.com.
You can also join Empowering Dance on Instagram and Facebook to follow our current activities.
The digital kick-off meeting took place in December 2020 and since then, the research team has been collaborating closely with the participating artists of the case study projects, who joined the project in February 2021.
Through bi-monthly meetings, artist journals and (online) practice sessions with the local dance communities, the building blocks for soft skill development in dance practice are being identified.
In April 2021 the research team began working with design and animation students at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb to start the development process for the digital guidebook to be published in Autumn 2022.
In June 2021 a two day online gathering was hosted by partner organization Dansateliers Rotterdam, where the research could be deepened and a first encounter could be made with local artists to better understand the needs for the future digital guidebook.
In August 2021, hosted by partner organization Centro per la Scena Contemporanea in Bassano del Grappa, Italy, we were able to gather in person for the first time in order to coordinate the work of the project. Alongside meetings around administrative and financial issues, over the course of three days we engaged in the physical practices of the projects’ artists/educators and reflected together on the key themes of the project. We also addressed challenges dance institutions and practitioners have to face due to pandemic restrictions and how this may affect the work on the project and each partner’s responsibilities in the collaborative work process.
In November 2021 the research team, including partners from Roehampton University and K3/Kampnagel, met at La Briqueterie in Vitry-sur-Seine, France to discuss and assess the work done since the prior meeting in Italy. Together they mapped future actions and designated the target audience for testing the project’s suspected outcomes.
In December 2021, the project partners and participants met in Hamburg at K3 to further develop the Empowering Dance project. In this third live transnational project meeting where we were all able to meet in person, we planned the timeline of the upcoming meetings and milestones for 2022 and agreed on various administrative and financial aspects. The second working day focused on the artistic and content related exchange of experiences with Hamburg dance professionals, where they questioned various approaches to discovering and teaching soft skills in contemporary dance projects and classes.
In February 2022 we met in hybrid form. Members of the team from Centro per la Scena Contemporanea in Italy traveled to Croatia to meet the collaborators from The Croatian Institute for Movement and Dance and The University of Zagreb in person. Simultaneously, participants from all other project partners joined digitally. The aim of the meeting was to exchange on the project’s progress with a special focus on the interdisciplinary collaboration with the visual art students at the University of Zagreb. There was also an encounter with local dance artists in Zagreb regarding the key themes of the project.
In March 2022 members of the teams from K3/Kampnagel, Roehampton University and Centro per la Scena Contemporanea met at La Briqueterie in Vitry-sur-Seine to discuss the development of the project. Video interviews were made with members of the French case study and project research team in order to document and communicate the discoveries of the project in the future. There were also 3 workshops offered to local dance students, dance teachers and professional dance artists to share aspects of the project and exchange about soft skill development in their own dance practices. Participants of the project also participated in a dance and health event hosted by La Briqueterie where they had encounters with the public and could exchange more about the project.
In the beginning of May 2022 participants from all partner organisations met in Hamburg to assess the progress of the project. Focus was given to planning and scheduling the upcoming testing phase for the draft of the digital guidebook, which included identifying the profile needed for testers in each country and preparing a methodology for evaluation of the testing phase. In addition to attending to administrative and financial issues, there were also discussions to prepare for future dissemination strategies and activities. At the end of May, members of the German, Italian and UK partner organisations met again in Hamburg in order to prepare for the summer meeting in Italy. This included further developing the dissemination plan for the launch of the digital guidebook. There was also an online meeting with the test group, composed of dance artists and educators in all partner cities, to receive feedback on their experience of the drafted project outcome.
In mid August 2022 participants from all partner organisations met in Bassano del Grappa, Italy to work on the communication strategy and to continue to develop the dissemination plan for the upcoming multiplier events. The dance artists of the project prepared various approaches to accompany the future dissemination of the guidebook and also met with local and visiting dance artists to try out some of those approaches.
On August 21, 2022the first Multiplier Event for Soft Skills in Dance – A guidebook to enhance your practice took place in the frame of the B.Motion Festival in Bassano del Grappa, Italy, making it a very successful official launch of the Guidebook to an international audience of more than 100 dance professionals.
On October 2, 2022 as part of the Dutch Dance Festival, project partner Dansateliers curated a multiplier event in an interactive setting. The importance of the tool was once again confirmed by all participants. Specifically the participants who did not have a background in dance - an English teacher, a professional working in psychiatric care, a teacher in healthcare - stressed their belief that the tool absolutely needs spreading beyond the dance community.
On November 19, 2022 the third multiplier event took place at University of Roehampton, London, UK. It was attended by dance artists, dance movement therapists, graduate students and educators. Using physical tasks, games and discussion, the half day event questioned and deepened everyone’s understanding of soft skills in dance. The event was very well received with delegates saying that the guidebook gave them a fresh perspective on how to communicate their work to others, and ideas to facilitate movement, dance and soft skill awareness with people working in other professions.
On February 4th, 2023 the fourth multiplier event took place at La Briqueterie in Vitry-sur-Seine. There was very positive feedback from the large turnout of participants, including both professional and non-professional dancers with and without disabilities, as well as other cultural producers within the dance field.
In the days following, participants from all partner organizations gathered in a transnational project meeting to share and assess the feedback received on the Guidebook thus far. Strategies were exchanged and new approaches were developed to continue the active dissemination of the Guidebook. The partner organizations also evaluated and updated various administrative aspects of the project, including preparation for the upcoming conclusion of the project at the end of May. Due to the very positive response by the users of the Guidebook so far, a productive brainstorming session was held to begin imagining what the future of the project could look like.
On March 3, 2023 the fifth multiplier event presented the Guidebook in Hamburg. Nearly 40 participants took part, ranging from dance teachers to choreographers, as well as people from outside the dance field, such as school teachers and performance artists. In response to the high demand of people interested in the project, two more workshops are planned for April 19th (online) and May 10th in Hamburg to continue to introduce the Guidebook and share the tools and practices found inside.
On April 28th, 2023 he final multiplier event took place in Zagreb, Croatia. At the location of the iconic French Pavilion in Zagreb, the two Croatian partners invited dance enthusiasts, artists across multiple disciplines and local citizens to participate in a 2 hour dance workshop and presentation of the Guidebook. The dance artists who led the workshop were supported by visual inputs from graduates of the Visual Arts Academy in Zagreb. This included the fine arts students who created the visual contributions for the Guidebook itself, which greatly enhanced the delivery of the event and processing of soft skills.
May 2023 marks the final transnational project meeting where members of all partner organizations met at Dansateliers in Rotterdam to evaluate the project. Each partner shared updates on the workshops, multiplier events and dissemination activities since the launch of the Guidebook in August 2023, as well as to plan continuing dissemination after the end of the project. The response to the Guidebook has been wide-reaching and enthusiastic, not only among dance artists and dance educators, but also from people outside of the field, such as school teachers, business coaches and visual artists. Administrative tasks were accounted for and time was made to also look ahead to potential next steps so that the skills and knowledge developed in this project can continue to grow and meet the needs of the dance field.