Contemporary Dance and Whitenesss

Independent Dance is a partner of a research project driven by Royona Mitra, Arabella Stanger and Simon Ellis that explores how race and racism mark the cultures, institutions and aesthetics underpinning contemporary dance in the UK.

The project

The researchers have shared their process and the outcomes to date on this dedicated website. The project included a number of conversations with dance artists, administrators and a wider project group of people invested in questions of race and race privilege in the dance industry.

This video essay by Royona, Arabella and Simon uses edited extracts from the interviews from the project to gather and reflect what interviewees raised in conversation.

ID’s participation

As part of the project, the researchers interviewed ID staff about the organisation and its context and problematics in relation to race in contemporary dance and somatic practices.
The project continues to raise and delineate complex and challenging issues and complexities for ID, which we try to surface and address in our processes – from planning and programming to administration and evaluation. It is a constant learning process.

Recently, ID received an anonymous donation of £5,000.
We decided that we would invest this generous gift to implement recommendations that came out of this project and specifically work to tackle the issues we and our fellow artists identify. We will continue to work with the researchers and with other artists to put this into action.

Activities at ID

ID hosted a one-day workshop on 15 September 2019, led by the project team with Cristina Fernandes Rosa, built around the large body of work by artists and scholars of colour who centre Black, Brown and Indigenous perspectives in their anti-racist work. The day included activities, discussions and reflections to grapple with complex issues about the role of dance in racism, white supremacy, solidarity and justice.

On 3 December 2019, as part of Crossing Borders, ID hosted a discussion titled Anti-Racist Contemporary Dance; a public conversation with Alexandrina Hemsley, Rob Jones, Seeta Patel and Rajni Shah, and facilitated by Royona Mitra. This panel centred artists of colour and their reparative and militant anti-racist dance practices.
Click here for the recording of the talk in our Crossing Borders archive.

Seeta Patel, Royona Mitra, Alexandrina Hemsley and Rob Jones (Rajni Shah via audio)
speaking at Anti-Racist Contemporary Dance discussion at Crossing Borders 2019