Press Story

26 Apr 2023

A new postgraduate programme at London Contemporary Dance Schools developing socially engaged dance practice to address the urgencies of our times

In a world full of increasing tension and crisis, of rapid change and rising challenges, a new timely and necessary postgraduate course explores the potential of dance as a catalyst for change. Unique in adressing the fields of community dance and arts activism fo academic study, the course questions how movement and dance contribute to the creation of sustainable social structures, support individuals and communities, perform collective actions and challenge systemic inequity.

London Contemporary Dance School is a world leader in dance and arts education, and this latest postgraduate offering highlights the school’s innovation and vision to build a world with more dance, reflecting the needs, opportunities and most important discussions in the dance ecology of today.

The MA Dance: Participation, Communities, Activism is for students who want to develop a socially engaged dance practice which addresses the urgencies of our times, by joining a global community of artists and researchers working at the intersection of community dance and arts activism.

Taught mostly online, it will allow students globally to remain embedded in the communities with whom they practice and apply their learning immediately within the communities they work with. Two two-week live residencies based at The Place in London will allow students to connect with peers and teachers in person.

The course is pioneering a collective leadership structure which de-centres western models of community dance, inviting international artists and researchers to co-curate the curriculum. Course leader Jo Parkes collaborated with an international team of artist and researchers, embedding the core values of co-creation and multi-centred exchange in the structures of the course.

The curatorial team working with Jo Parkes in 2023-2024 are:

Dr Ruth Pethybridge - Dance Artist, Researcher, and Senior Lecturer in dance at Falmouth University

Dr Nora Amin – founder of the nation-wide Egyptian Project for Theatre of the Oppressed and its Arab network

LouiseKaterega - performer, teacher, choreographer, consultant, dramaturg and creative producer, founder of the cross-generational, culturally diverse, disabled and non-disabled professional dance company Foot In Hand

Dr Funmi Adewole Elliott - performer, dramaturge and academic focusing on Dance of the African Diaspora

Dana Yahalomi – Director of Public Movement, a performative research body that investigates and stages political actions in public spaces based in Israel

Jo Parkes has worked internationally for over two decades in co-creative, participatory dance and creates installations, events, performances and videos as a dance artist, facilitator and educator. She is the founder and artistic director of Mobile Dance e.V. an art projects at the intersection of artistic and socio-political concerns. Jo has joined the faculty of London Contemporary Dance School in 2022.

Each year, the curatorial team sets three themes which weave through the units of the course. The themes for 2023-2024 are: Crossings, Care and Resistance. Jo Parkes and the curatorial team are available for interviews.

"This new MA program in dance is a vital response of academia to the changing needs of our society today. It offers cutting edge theoretical and practical dance studies that will greatly enhance students’ methodologies, particularly due to its unique emphasis on movement in the public space, that forms community alliances and serves as an engine for political thought. "

Dana Yahalomi

“The emergence of this MA course is timely and necessary, and I am so excited to be part of this important development both in education, but also in terms of changing the way that dance can be seen as a catalyst for positive and sustainable change in a world that needs so much repair. I can’t wait to see what graduates from this MA will do.”

Dr Ruth Pethybridge:

The course can be completed in one year full-time, or two years part-time, to allow studying alongside work, caring responsibilities or other individual needs. 

Two fully funded scholarships will be offered to those living and working in the Global South.