Day 1 – Friday 19 November

11.15-12.30pm: Practitioner Perspectives 

Panel Chair: Daniela Perazzo
Panelists: Ruth Spencer and Jane McLean & Kiri Avelar, Stuart Waters & Erin Sanchez

Panel description: Practitioners’ perspectives 

This panel features two presentations which give voice to practitioners’ perspectives on how interdisciplinarity and co-creation can promote inclusive approaches and support an understanding of working across identity borders and fostering collaboration. Kiri Avelar will discuss how the interdisciplinary medium of screendance has allowed her to explore the intersectionality of identity. Specifically, she will present how her screendance piece Mestiza Consciousness (2019) has enabled her to capture the complexity of Latinx identities, creating a liminal space in which the viewer can productively engage with questioning and understanding. Jane Mc Lean and Ruth Spencer’s presentation will focus on examining movement practices with and for people with profound intellectual and multiple disabilities; it will consider questions concerning inclusion, access and ownership in relation to methodologies, policy and practice. In their practice-research, Jane and Ruth seek to challenge the barriers involved in undertaking ethical research and identify best practice in relation to co-created movement. Additionally this panel will feature a filmed interview discussion between dance Stuart Waters and Erin Sanchez, who will discuss issues of intersectionality and inclusion from their own practices and experiences.

Image Credit: John Evans

Kiri Avelar is an interdisciplinary artist, educator, and scholar working to embody, represent, honor, question, and challenge space for Latinx identities to be expressed. A 2020 Jerome Robbins Dance Division Research Fellow for the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, her scholarly research Descubriendo Latinx: The Hidden Text in American Modern Dance, visibilizes the Latinx diasporic presence in the early American modern dance canon as a way to retell our collective dance histories, shifting the narrative through a re-examination of the archive. Her correlating artistic practice is designed to further provoke thought around the artistic, physical, and cultural borderless experience of Latinx artists in America, and immerses audiences in unique spaces to explore themes of ruido, mestiza consciousness, intersectionality, migration, and Latinidades through film, embodied oral history performances, interactive screendance, and soundscapes. She is co-curator for their current exhibition, The Mestizo as Ambassador: José Limón and the Transculturation of American Modern Dance at Lincoln Center, and is working in collaboration with the José Limón Dance Foundation on scholarly research in celebration of their 75th anniversary. She holds an MFA in Dance from Rutgers University, and a BA in Dance with honors from New Mexico State University. Fronteriza de El Paso, Texas/Cd. Juárez, Chihuahua, México, Ms. Avelar resides in New York City, serving as Deputy School Director and teaching faculty for Ballet Hispánico, and for the National Dance Education Organization’s Research Committee.

Image Credit: UcLan

Ruth Spencer is an independent dance artist and part-time university lecturer and Jane McLean is Creative Director of Cheshire Dance and a practising dance artist. They are currently working on the Wanna Dance? project with Vivo Care Choices, developing dance opportunities for adults with profound intellectual and multiple disabilities. 

Ruth’s work developed over 30 years is deeply rooted in dance in education and community settings. As an educator, trainer, performer, project manager and artistic director, working in partnership with organisations across the UK and abroad, Ruth is committed to the potential of physical creativity as a means of expression for all. Through a person-centred approach Ruth works to debunk myths that surround dance and creative practice and create opportunities for everyone to dance whatever their age, gender or need. 

Image Credit: Debbie Cowley

Jane is passionate about inspiring people from all walks of life to create, learn and experience dance. She enjoys working collaboratively with other artists and organisations to enable the development of innovative dance practices across Cheshire and beyond. Jane’s enquiries into anatomy, performance presence, attention to sensation, use of energy and focus support all of her work. Jane uses improvisation to explore, connect and create dances with people of all ages and abilities.

Ruth and Jane also host a network group of dance artists specifically interested in developing their skills and knowledge in working with and for people with complex needs.

Stuart Waters is a pioneering neurodiverse dance artist who advocates for diversity, mental health and emotional safety through safe practice awareness, training and public speaking. Having worked as a successful performing artist and dance maker for 22 years, working at the cutting edge of the devising processes and style of Protein Dance, Motionhouse and Wired Aerial Theatre, Stuart has become a highly successful dance maker in his own right, underpinning biographical art making with a therapeutic approach. Stuart effects sector change whilst creating powerful, resonant audience experiences. His mission is:

– to create dance theatre work that draws on human experience and story-tells in a manner that is relevant and resonant to diverse audiences, encouraging them to reflect on choices and judgements. 

– to embed therapeutic models and safeguarding techniques into practice, advocating inter/nationally for mental health safeguarding and best practice 

– to challenge ablism and heteronormativity by centring diversity, inclusivity and intersectionality; working collaboratively to help disseminate and exchange knowledge

– to develop and share an empowering approach that is liberating, challenging the limitations that self-doubt can impose.

Erin Sanchez graduated with an MSc Dance Science in 2010. She is the Manager of the National Institute of Dance Medicine and Science, and Manager of Health, Wellbeing, and Performance at One Dance UK. Following graduation from Trinity Laban, she gained the Safe and Effective Dance Practice qualification and trained with Prof Joan Duda to deliver Empowering Dance©, a teacher training course in motivational climate. She has written the modules in dance science in collaboration with bbodance’s Teacher Qualifications and ISTD’s Level 6 Diploma in Dance Pedagogy. She is a Registered Provider for Safe in Dance International and runs the Dance Psychology Network. She is currently pursuing her PhD in Sport, Physical Education, and Health Sciences from the University of Edinburgh investigating the nature, development and deployment of psychological skills in the pursuit and attainment of high performance in dance.

1.30-2.45pm: Candoco Dance Company at 30 
Panel Chair: Charlotte Waelde
Panelists: Charlotte Darbyshire, Kimberley Harvey and Jo Bannon

Hot Mess choreographed by Theo Clinkard. Dancers: Joel Brown, Laura Patay, Nicolas Vendange, Megan Armishaw, Olivia Edginton, Mickaella Dantas, Toke Broni Strandby. Photographer: Stephen Wright 2019.

Candoco is a world-leading dance company of disabled and non-disabled dancers who continually expand perceptions of what dance can be and who can do it.

In our 30th year we are still asking ourselves what it means to work inclusively and how we might develop our expertise whilst making space for new ways of being and doing.

In this discussion, Candoco’s Artistic Director, Charlotte Darbyshire and Director of Youth Programme, Kimberley Harvey will share some of our current thinking, activity, and research through the lens of two of Candoco’s latest works; Last Shelter by Jeanine Durning and Feeling Thing by Jo Bannon.
Jo Bannon will join Charlotte and Kimberley and share her experience of creating two digital works for Candoco; Absent Tense, an audio essay commissioned in partnership with HOME Manchester and Feeling Thing, a dance film that reintroduces us to objects around us and invites us to experience them as the dancing, feeling things they are. The panel will also include an exclusive preview of this new digital work.

3.00 – 4.15pm: Broadening Opportunities 
Panel Chair: Kathryn Stamp
Panelists: Darrel Toulon & Peace Otuko, Gustavo Fijalkow, Virginia Farman

This panel brings together three papers which discuss experiences of negotiating inclusive and intersectional matters within specific contexts and projects that seek to broaden opportunities, attending to the particularities of these communities. Darrel Toulon and Peace Otuko will present on how the collaboration of Dance Training and Psycho-Social Counselling plays an integral role to the overall artistic achievement, and to the well-being of the participants as well as facilitators within OTINO ONYWALO ILUM, the Ugandan Chapter of an international inter-sectoral docu-dance-theatre project. Gustavo Fijalkow will discuss the complexities of dance creation highlighting the multi-layered-ness of power interplays in a historico-political environment other than the Anglo-Saxon cultural sphere, focusing on the case of the FORWARD DANCE COMPANY. Virgina Farman will explore how notions of inclusivity and exclusivity are addressed in site-dance research project Tandem Ballet and performance production, Everyday Hero (Bicycle Ballet, 2012-14), with their themes of travel and accessibility for blind and visually impaired subjects.

About the panlelists

Darrel Toulon

Founding Artistic Director of the alpha group (Austria), developing docu-dance-theatre about and with young people whose lives have been created or changed by war. 

Educated at United World College of the Atlantic (Wales), Thamesdown Contemporary Dance Studios (Swindon), Central School of Ballet (London), and Institute for Cultural Concepts (Vienna). Ballet Director of Opera Graz (2001-2015). Currently Darrel Toulon teaches Dance Arts at Anton Bruckner Private University in Linz.

Key-Notes: “Who Gets to Stand Centre-Stage?” for Divers-Connect Symposium (Dresden 2019); “Point Of Departure: how working through the pandemic lockdown situation has led to a tandem-teaching model for coping with the lack of tactile teaching possibilities” for Alma Mater Europaea – Academy of Dance Scientific Conference

(Ljubljana 2021); “Physical Experientiality of Verbatim Source Text in U IME OCA” for CHAOS Through the Lens of the Arts: An interdisciplinary artistic approach on art and resilience (Germany/Israel).

Most recent productions: U IME OCA (Bosnia 2019), OTINO ONYWALU ILUM (Uganda 2020).

Awards: First Austrian Dance Production Special Prize (2002), and the Styrian Golden Cross of Honour (2016).

Peace Otuko

Psychologist, Trauma Counsellor for OTINO ONYWALO ILUM. Otuko Peace holds a Masters in Clinical Psychology, an Advanced Diploma in Child and Adolescent Mental Health, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work and Social Administration from Makerere University Kampala Uganda. She is currently working as a Programme Coordinator for Victims Voice (vivo) International in Uganda and also as a practising Clinical Psychologist.

Peace has worked for more than six years with people with mental health problems, especially in post-war conflict areas, and particularly with people from South Sudan seeking refuge in Uganda.

Gustavo Fijalkow is an academic and a practitioner. Primarily trained as a dancer, he received his education in Argentina, Germany and The Netherlands. He has performed professionally  exploring pure dance forms and youth theatre, as well as site-specific and experimental, interdisciplinary formats. He was creative producer and production director of a mixed-abled dance company based in Germany, position in which he carried out international co-productions with several African, South American and Asian artists. He has conceived and curated several international and interdisciplinary festivals and academic conferences. He was awarded his M.A. in International Arts Management with the thesis Bloodbath-Bloodbond. A historical snapshot of the Work of the Goethe-Institut Tel Aviv (Germany, 2010) and his PhD with the thesis National Dance Platforms. A comparative study of the cases in Germany, Israel, the UK and Sri Lanka (UK, 2020). He was British Council Fellow at the Venice Biennale (2018), where he developed the audio-piece Suggeritori. He is regularly invited to conferences and has taught widely, and has developed and moderated several formats to discuss performing arts and their contexts. He is a member of  the Editorial Board of TURBAThe Journal of Global Practices in Live Arts Curation and has been entrusted with the responsibility to establish the Forward Dance Company at LOFFT – DAS THEATER in Leipzig/Germany, of which he is the Artistic Project Director.

Image Credit: Tandem-Ballet-RD-©-Ray-Gibson

Virginia Farman is a site-dance choreographer, senior lecturer in choreography and practice as research and PhD by publication candidate, researching Internal/external landscape dialogues in site -responsive choreographic compositional practices, at the University of Chichester. Farman choreographs across a range of locations, (nightclubs, urban streets, seaside, nature-sites) and situations ( festivals, invited audiences, community participation, spontaneous display), creating pieces that are enthused by an interest in how dance can explore the connection between people and places.  Farman’s choreography reflects the influences of her formative training with Liz Aggiss and Billy Cowie as student of Expressive Arts Degree (University of Brighton) and as member of the Divas Dance company. She has worked as choreographer in a long term collaboration with Bicycle Ballet, ( and has created independent site-dances projects nationally and internationally. Her choreographies use dancing as method for cultivating agency in community and cultural regeneration; most recent works; Children’s Games (2019) (Dances with) Cloud, Gate and Tree, ( 2020) and Souvenir ( 2020) were created for specific outdoor locations. Children’s Games can be viewed on Vimeo

4.30 – 5.45pm: Decolonial Dance Narratives 
Panel Chair: Mercy Nabirye and Jane Carr

Panellists: Suzane Weber da Silva with Anielle Lemos, Claudia Sachs, Luciano Tavares, Manoel Gildo Alves and  Monica Dantas, followed by Sandie Bourne and Anna Kirakowska.  

The 3 presentations will present different perspectives on intersectionality and decolonisation in relation to dance. In ‘Brazilian black dancers’ researches: the concept of intersectionality between north and south through dance practices’, Suzane Weber da Silva and colleagues will share their analysis of  how the concept of intersectionality operates in three research projects developed at the Postgraduation Program in Performing Arts at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. They also investigate how these researches dialogue with the term’ intersectionality’ contrasting North American authors with Brazilian authors, especially the black philosopher Lelia Gonzalez, an icon of black feminism and activism in Brazil. In’Decolonising African Diasporic narratives in ballet’ , Sandie Bourne explores  how Black people from the African Diaspora were characterised in narrative ballet classics such as: Le Corsaire (1856), The Pharaoh’s Daughter (1862), La Bayadère (1877), Cléopâtra (1909), Petroushka (1911) and Schéhérazade (1910). Finally Anna Kirakowska will present the outcome of her research into the experiences of self-identifying black, Latina(o) or indigenous alumni in third level dance education in the UK through her film Amazingly Awkward: Let’s Talk About Race.


Mercy Nabirye is a consultant and creative producer for African Diaspora arts and founding Director of Kauma Arts which works with individuals and organisations to connect communities globally, raise profiles, the practice and awareness of diverse arts.  She is a fellow of the Windsor Leadership and The Royal Society for the Encouragement of the Arts (FRSA).  She is a Trustee on several boards in the UK, USA and the African continent.  Her career portfolio includes Arts Council England, One Dance UK/ADAD, Royal Borough Council of Greenwich UK, Birmingham Royall Ballet UK, Apples and Snakes a literary performance poetry organisation in UK.  Her artistic background is Performing Arts, Dance, Film/Photography and Literature. In September 2021, She received an honorary doctorate of Arts from University of East London, in recognition of her achievements. The social media handles for Kauma Arts are as follows:

Suzane Weber da Silva is a dancer and Associate Professor at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), Porto Alegre, Brazil.

Anielle Lemos is a choreographer and dance and a PhD student on the Performing Arts Program at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), Porto Alegre, Brazil. Anielle gained her Master’s degree at the School of Physical Education Program at the Federal University of Pelotas, Brazil. 

Claudia Sachs is an actress, theatre director and Assistant Professor at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), Porto Alegre, Brazil. 

Luciano Tavares is a dancer and choreographer and a PhD student at Performing Arts Program at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS) where he gained his Masters’ degree and is also a Collaborator Professor on the dance course. 

Manoel Gildo Alves is a dancer and choreographer and Professor of Dance at the Federal University of Pelotas (UFPel), Brazil. He was awarded a Masters in Performing Arts from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS).
Monica Dantas is a dancer and Associate Professor at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), Porto Alegre, Brazil.

Image Credit: Sandie Bourne – Photo by Clovis Lowe

Sandie Bourne trained at London Studio Centre; she has a BA Performing Arts major in Dance, Middlesex University; MA Dance Studies, University of Surrey and a PhD Dance Studies, University of Roehampton (2017). Her research title was Black British Ballet: Race, Representation and Aesthetics. Presentations include: ‘Generations – International Perspectives on Dance of the African Diaspora’ conference, London Metropolitan University (2010). She was a panellist for ‘Dance and the Creative Case’, Arts Council’s Decibel conference on diversity and equality, Manchester (2011). Other papers include: Trans.Form@Work, University of Surrey and Re: Generationsconference at The Place, London and London Met (2012); African Association of Dance African Diaspora conference, Pavilion Dance South West, Bournemouth (2014); University of Bedfordshire (2016); State of Emergency, London and Serendipity, Leicester (2017). Re: generations – Dance and the digital space conference for Dance in the African Diaspora, the Lowry, Salford (2019). Published chapters include: ‘Tracing the Evolution of Black Representation in Ballet and the Impact on Black British Dancers Today’ in (Akinleye 2018); ‘Looking Through the Keyhole’ in (Brookes 2018); a Book Review on Halifu Osumare, ‘Dancing in Blackness, A Memoir’ in Dance Research, Vol 37.1 (2019); Portrayals of Black people in Western narrative ballets’, in (Akinleye 2021).

Anna Kirakowska  has performed, taught and researched dance over a wide range of genres over the past 10 years. She has a keen interest in the triangle of dance, race and gender, having completed her studies in dance anthropology in Roehampton University. She is currently working on her second  MA at London Studio Centre and works as a freelance performer, teacher and researcher in London.

I will present the outcome of my research into the experiences of self-identifying black, Latina(o) or indigenous alumni in third level dance education in the UK. The project was inspired by my own experiences entering UK dance training from Ireland and the assumptions, misunderstandings and miscommunications I experienced and the invisibility of my culture from my studies. This interview based documentary exposed communication difficulties between staff and co-students and my interviewees, as well as a perceived lack of curiosity about culture and race leading them to accept representational imbalances within their studies. 

The full documentary will be available to watch on the Society for Dance Research website, from which further conversation is prompted in order to develop this important line of inquiry.

6 – 7.00pm Centring and Intersectionality: Black Perspectives in Dance Research

Provocation and discussion led by Mercy Nabirye (Director of Kauma Arts) with Dr Funmi Adewole (Senior Lecturer in Dance at De Montfort University) and Duane Cyrus (Professor at University North Carolina  at Greensboro and Director of Theatre of Movement).

We will explore ways black dancers and academics might practice a sense of belonging and centring of blacknesses in a way that is not solely contrasted with whiteness. We consider how artists, academics, curators, producers and educators can create spaces where a range of black voices can be heard 

Key questions include: 

is the focus of ‘Equality, Diversity and Inclusion’ policies and the  ‘decolonising’ of academic research the same? 

The idea of authentic, original, or monolithic blackness—how can we shift those narratives? How, why and when? 

What do we use dance narratives for?

Does Blackness need to be visible in order to exist or be valid? (Who is it visible for? And what about the present-day “volume” level?)

How/when are we, in Black communities, silencing our own voices when we view ourselves through an unexamined incorporation or application of a white lens? Does the academic, “technical”, or professional mean “not black”?

What are the challenges that arise when dance discourse in the academy focuses on or prioritizes dance as “art” (particularly when positioning that art within or even alongside a western canon)?

Mercy Nabirye is a consultant and creative producer for African Diaspora arts and founding Director of Kauma Arts which works with individuals and organisations to connect communities globally, raise profiles, the practice and awareness of diverse arts.  She is a fellow of the Windsor Leadership and The Royal Society for the Encouragement of the Arts (FRSA).  She is a Trustee on several boards in the UK, USA and the African continent.  Her career portfolio includes Arts Council England, One Dance UK/ADAD, Royal Borough Council of Greenwich UK, Birmingham Royall Ballet UK, Apples and Snakes a literary performance poetry organisation in UK.  Her artistic background is Performing Arts, Dance, Film/Photography and Literature. In September 2021, She received an honorary doctorate of Arts from University of East London, in recognition of her achievements. The social media handles for Kauma Arts are as follows:

Funmi Adewole is a senior lecturer in Dance at De Montfort University, Leicester. She started out as a media practitioner in Nigeria but went into performance on moving to England in 1994. For several years she toured with Physical theatre and African dance drama companies before studying for an M.A in Postcolonial studies and a PhD in Dance Studies. She began to work as a dramaturge in 2013, mainly with professional performers, mainly choreographers working with the dance forms of Africa and the diaspora or interdisciplinary theatre-makers. Her research interests include the theorising of the Dance of the African Diaspora in professional contexts, Africanist dance aesthetics in choreographic practice and dramaturgy. 

Duane Cyrus is Bessie Award nominated performer and a professor at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro where he teaches Choreography, Improvisation, Repertory, and Career Strategies for Artists. He is also the director of Theatre of Movement, a collective that produces performing and visual art collaborations and curations––meshing Cyrus’ dance background with photographers, filmmakers, actors, poets, and musicians. Duane holds a BFA from the Juilliard School and an MFA from University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. He danced with the Martha Graham Dance Company, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, in musical theater (including the original London production of Disney’s The Lion King), on television, and in a variety of other venues nationally and internationally. He regularly works as an independent artist throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia as teacher, performer, and choreographer. Duane Cyrus consistently shares his knowledge and experience through his method for creating live performance called Theatre of Movement. As an educator, he has developed curricula for community outreach, intensives, and arts-in-education programs for New Jersey Performing Arts Center, Circuit Productions, Museum of the City of New York, Charlotte Ballet, Ailey Camp, and American Ballet Theater among others. Duane has received commissions and developed projects for Martha Graham Dance Company, American Dance Festival, and Charlotte Ballet among others. He has received grants from the Princess Grace Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, North Carolina Arts Council, Arts Greensboro, and New Music/USA among others. He is a member of Kauma Arts. Visit:

My current project is an art exhibition I am curating for the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Arts in Winston-Salem, North Carolina titled “Black@Intersection”
About 25 artists in 6,000 sq ft. rotunda gallery.
An international scope of Black artists with a strong representation of women-identifying artists.
Photography, painting, mixed media, film are part of the exhibition