Higher Education Round Table

This annual event provides a meeting point for artists working within higher education institutions. It is a platform for artists to engage with a current issue facing artist teachers in the HE context, fostering knowledge exchange and collaboration.
Scroll down to read about previous topics and download the notes from each event.

Online Round Table Discussion 2020
Recognising Institutional Racism in our Classroom
Independent Dance in collaboration with Dr Adesola Akinleye
Chaired by Dr Adesola Akinleye (and Heni Hale)

We are currently in unprecedented times where the impact of Covid-19 has exacerbated and compounded the structural inequalities that exist in many of our HE institutions, in the arts field and more broadly in society, and the need for radical change has become even more stark.

“I just wanted to say just how valuable it is to be able to come together as dance artists / educators / researchers (whatever we prefer, it matters little) and speak so honestly and hopefully and progressively. And being in collegiate, co-operative and collective thought and discussion is so welcome and so needed for all of us today. I come away lighter in my heart and more resilient in my thoughts.”
Katye Coe, September 2016

In response to #blacklivesmatter and with the aim of being part of the vast and hopefully positive changes that can come about through crisis we ask:

How can HE contribute to moving towards a just society?

Our focus is to come together to recognise ways in which we might be unknowingly performing systemic racism in our classrooms, language, and sense of history. How much are notions of (hyper) professionalism tied up with a colonial outlook?

The roundtable will be introduced by a provocation essay written by Dr Adesola Akinleye/ ID that will be available about 3 weeks beforehand and act as a starting place for a conversation. Adesola suggests identifing 3 important and separate lenses through which to observe and work, the first ‘justice’ (witness, acknowledge, ‘that shouldn’t have happened’, I hear you’), the second being ‘education’ (understanding, comprehending the nuances of the system, what is this system? How does it ‘work’?), and the third being ‘personal work’ (what is/has my role been in that system?, where is my power? in it/to change it?, committing to change). These lenses will provide a structure for the ensuing round table conversations. Together we will be considering what kind of work has to be done as a community of movers. The online session will last 2 hours with additional time at the end for options to share resources, and seeking further actions as groups or individuals.



The HE Round Table is for artists working in higher education
Friday 4th September 2020, 3-5pm
Free to attend; suggested donation £5-£10
Participation by invitation. Contact us at info@independentdance.co.uk for more info. 


Previous HE Round Table discussions:

2013 What is it to teach choreography?
What it the specific process of transforming an idea into an artwork that we call choreography, specifically given the diversity of choreographic outcomes that dance artists produce, which may or may not include ‘dancing’ or movement patterning in a traditional sense of the word?
What is specific about a movement training that affects how ideas are generated and realised?
HE Round Table notes Sept 2013

2014 Artists in academia: conflicts and contributions
We continued the discussion with a topic that arose at the 2013 event: the dual identity as artist and academic, navigating both industry and institutional frameworks in our creative practice; and the contribution (and, sometimes, invisibility) of artists working in HE contexts to the wider sector.
ID HE Round Table notes Sept 2014

2015 Artist or instrument? Changing notions of technique and creative practice
Traditional boundaries between technical, performance and choreographic practice have become blurred by the influence of somatic practices and by the proliferation of choreographic approaches and making processes across the professional sector. These shifts have contributed to a changed perception of what dancing demands (excepting, perhaps, in a small, but powerful, corner of the mainstream). The ID round table reflected upon our role in generating and supporting this changed ecology.
ID HE Round Table 2015 notes

2016 Shared futures: HE and the profession
How do we understand the needs of the artform from the perspectives of our various roles, and share our imaginings of how best to support its ongoing evolution? How do we prepare students for a world which is for them to build, and which we perhaps cannot fully imagine?
HE Round Table notes Sept 2016

2017 We Are The Institution
As financial pressures, Brexit and a neo-liberal agenda intensify the pressures on the idea and practice of arts education, we identify the opportunities for change and resistance we do have, and ask questions of the systems in which we play a part.
ID HE Round Table notes Sept 2017

2018 Excellence, Failure and the Expert
In light of the pressures facing all institutions and particularly the recent Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) we want to put notions of excellence on the table for debate: what constitutes excellence and for whom, and what is the relationship between excellence and expertise?
Two distinct but related comments emerged from last year’s discussion: the first a question how we can find excellence within risk and failure as integral to a learning process; the second a recognition of the current trend to reject the expert: do the students feel there is a point to learning from someone else?
ID HE Round Table notes Sept 2018

2019 Agency under Pressure
How can we influence the network of political relationships that we rely upon? How do we influence institutional management, funders and stakeholders, The Department of Education and our MPs, as well as the young people who need to create a vision for themselves in the dance field?