Performing Gender: Dancing In Your Shoes is a three-year audience development project aimed at developing a bond between cultural professionals and their local communities in the field of dance and performing arts through a discussion on gender and LGBTQI+ identities.
The project explores Dance as a medium to deepen understanding of questions around gender and sexual identity, and the project partners have worked in collaboration with a range of communities often marginalised in contemporary culture: these include communities with experience of gender-based violence, sexual discrimination, racism, homophobia and transphobia, and the ageing body.
Commissioned by the British Council, the following films explore some of the key themes and artistic practices of the project, as well as ways that artists and arts organisations have collaborated with local cultural policymakers and communities to build projects with deep and lasting impact.
Performing Gender has been a series of Creative Europe-supported collaborative projects using the Performing Arts and Dance in particular to deepen understanding of questions around gender and sexual identity. The results have included greater innovation from artists, strengthened communities and excellent dance works.
The 2020–23 edition, Dancing In Your Shoes, has explored how artistic processes can support community-building through genuine co-design between professional artists and target community members. The project has also shown that deep engagement with communities does not have to result in cultural works that are somehow ‘less valuable’ or ‘less professional’ than works authored by isolated choreographers. In fact, the project has shown that rigorous, innovative and excellent works can result from this deep collaborative practice.
In Dancing In Your Shoes, we have encouraged Dance as a cultural vehicle for encouraging and amplifying community voices. So many of the communities we have worked with carry their lived experience of marginalisation in their bodies – through gender-based violence, through sexual discrimination, through experiences of racism, homophobia or transphobia, through the aging body, or through disability. Dance, if explored with sensitivity and experience, has the power to transform individual experience and to build communities.
The partners of the current project are:
- Gender Bender Festival (Bologna, Italy)
- City of Women (Ljubljana, Slovenia)
- SÍN Arts Centre (Budapest, Hungary)
- Norrlandsoperan (Umeå, Sweden)
- Dans Brabant (Tilburg, The Netherlands)
- Theaterfestival Boulevard (’s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands)
- KLAP Maison Pour La Danse (Marseille, France)
- British Council (UK)
- Yorkshire Dance (Leeds, UK)
- Paso a 2 (Madrid, Spain)
- DAMSLab (part of University of Bologna, Italy)
The Performing Gender consortium has been the very grateful recipient of three Creative Europe Cooperation Project Grants.