Out-of-step academia

May 2, 2003

The idea that the intellectual standard of dance academics has somehow transformed the quality of the UK's dance culture is laughable ("Research cash loss to cripple dancing", THES , April 25).

Given the mistrust among dancers and practitioners of the value of anthropology, sociology or musicological and textual analysis in trying to identify the essence of dance, dance research - if such a creature exists - has a lot of justifying to do.

Rich training environments such as the Laban Centre in London or the Northern School of Contemporary Dance are not even funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Board.

The real thrust of discussion at the Standing Conference on Dance in Higher Education was not about research funding but rather about what kinds of activities ought to be funded in the name of dance education. The emphasis on an artistic practice of dance in public-sector higher education institutions - which are the only ones eligible for AHRB research funding - has come about because of increased pressure to recruit. Those who are senior research staff were all appointed long before the practice mattered.

Gregory Sporton
Head of performance and moving image
Birmingham Institute of Art and Design

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