Research Seminar – Dancing diaspora: Rethinking Contemporary Dance Discourses

The Symposium is followed by the Seminar Dancing diaspora: Rethinking Contemporary Dance discourses on Tuesday, April 25th. The seminar is organized by KU Leuven in collaboration with Ghent University and Antwerp University. The Seminar is open to (PhD) students and academic researchers as well as artists, dramaturges and practitioners who are engaged in the theme.

Despite its air of neutrality and inclusivity, European contemporary dance has for a long time systematically excluded choreographic genres and dance styles that originate within and connect to culturally diverse communities. However, in the last ten years, choreographers and dancers of colour have increasingly claimed their position in the European field of dance. Building on different cultural experiences and references, these choreographers and dancers have introduced new choreographic strategies and have drawn attention to underrepresented aesthetics and forms of (embodied) knowledge. Within the framework of the seminar ‘Countering Eurocentric Contemporary Dance discourses’ we will focus on this newly emerging body of works, mapping the aesthetic strategies used by choreographers of colour working in the European contemporary dance scene and analyzing their potential to rethink the discourses surrounding European Contemporary Dance.

Special attention will be devoted to the development of critical discourses that pay heed to the complexities and nuances of diaspora dance epistemologies. Although dance is often framed as a pure bodily medium, something thinking and talking can only get in the way off, words and concepts play a crucial role in the development of choreographic practices. In the studio, choreographers often rely on concepts and metaphors to communicate their ideas and visions to their collaborators. Once the piece is finished, many choreographers again turn to language to position their works within a specific discursive context. Moreover, even when they refrain from doing so, this discourse will be produced by others – journalists, theorists, programmers.

During ‘Diaspora Dance’ we want to look at these dance discourses and the context they create for contemporary choreographers of colour. In doing so, we aim to inscribe ourselves in what Linda Tuhiwai Smith calls the project of decolonizing research (Smith, 2021). Acknowledging the historical link between research and “European imperialism and colonialism” we aim to develop discursive frameworks attentive to the complex epistemologies that emerge within diasporic dance practices, rather than trying to fold these practices into pre-existing Eurocentric frames. Simultaneously, we acknowledge the importance of embedding these choreographic epistemologies into (academic) discourse. As Funmi Adewole argues, the knowledge produced by choreographers of colour can hardly be generated “where no institutional support or recognition is given to the importance of that knowledge” (Adewole, 2020).

The seminar is free of charge, but registration is required and the number of participants is limited.

If you are interested in participating in the Seminar, please send a short motivation and your biography to Jonas Rutgeerts by April 7th, 2023.


    25 april, 2023
    icon Institute of Philosophy
    Kardinaal Mercierplein 2
    3000 Leuven
    PhD postdoc ZAP