Decolonizing tertiary dance education: Time to act

Welcome to the fully virtual international conference/un-conference Decolonizing tertiary dance education: Time to act collaboratively hosted by Stockholm University of the Arts, Department of Dance Pedagogy and Department of Dance, and Makerere University, Department of Performing Arts and Film, scheduled to take place April 7-8, 2022. The conference will take place on Zoom and participation is free. The conference will run at 1pm- 10pm (GMT+2) each day.

SKH_Uganda foto 1100x620.jpg

April 7-8, 2022

Thursday April 7 at 12.45-13 GMT+2 (local Swedish time)
Time: Friday April 8 1pm- 10pm (GMT+2) 

Registration is closed.

The registration closes 6 April or at maximum 450 participants.
Please register for your conference participation here: 
REGISTER HERE (registration is closed)
Conference participation is free of charge, but registration is required.

This conference/un-conference is motivated by the paradigmatic decolonial discourse that is ongoing within tertiary dance education, urging for major changes in higher education in dance worldwide. Dance research has contributed to a shift of focus from previously uncritical and colonial Western canons, towards more critical and inclusive dance practices in higher education, where the ideals of modernism have been critically explored and deconstructed with the help of decolonial theories. Worldwide, as well as at the Stockholm University of the Arts, students and teachers have, for quite some time, critically questioned the colonial, racist and sexist legacy of Western dance, dance education and teaching pedagogies. As well, it has been a concern for Makerere University and Africa in general, where content and pedagogical methods of Indigenous dance have been defined by Euro-American-oriented canons. These legacies are also clearly traceable in higher education; in the ways study programs are structured, staffed, taught, articulated and promoted. The perspectives on teaching and learning, as well as research and theory used, are most often based in the same Western legacies. The time has come for us to act, and this conference/un-conference is setting action.

We acknowledge that decolonial and decolonizing processes are complex and diverse across the world. Colonialism might look and be understood very differently in Sweden and the Swedish and North-European context than in Uganda and other African countries as well as other continents with very different contexts and histories. However, we see that the responsibility of taking action for decolonizing dance in tertiary education, as well as in society, is a shared responsibility among the various stakeholders across different contexts. We therefore invite participants to share their practices and reflections drawing on the specific contexts in which they might engage with. The conference/un-conference aims to create and strengthen critical dialogue, action and change across diverse communities of dance practice, working towards anti-racist and decolonial dance educational structures in tertiary education. We encourage involvement in this conference/un-conference from those who engage in the full spectrum of tertiary dance education: undergraduate and postgraduate students, adjunct staff, artists, technical staff, administrators, leaders, full-time academic staff, and community dance practitioners. We also specifically encourage partnerships among presenters from the global north and global south, and partnerships that include those at the margins of academia, and who may be engaging intergenerationally and transdisciplinary.

We invite abstracts for conference/un-conference presentation proposals that fall under one of the following topics (or similar topics) and presentation formats. 

Keynote speakers of the conference:

Keynote 1

7 April at 13:00-14:00

Keynote speakers: Ronald Kibirige, Rainy Demerson, Maryam Bagheri Nesami, Jas 'Ofamo'oni, Caterina Daniela Mora Jara

Title: Re-mapping futures, possibilities, and actions for decolonizing tertiary dance education: A keynote talanoa/testimonies.

Abstract: This keynote talanoa/testimonies from five dance researchers-artists-educators intends to prompt and provoke a re-mapping of the futures, possibilities, and actions for decolonizing tertiary dance education. Coming from distinct cultural and geographical positionings, the panelists seek to open up space for conversations and reflections on how decolonization as an idea and action can play out in diverse ways.

Ronald Kibirige_550.jpg
Dr. Ronald Kibirige (Uganda) is a dance and music practitioner, researcher, and instrument-craftsman, working as a Lecturer of Dance, Music, and Dance-musicking at Makerere University. He obtained his PhD in Humanities and the Arts from NTNU. His lines of practice range from Traditional to Contemporary African Dance, Music, and Dance-Musicking, with special research interest in dance and music as intangible cultural heritage, dancing, musicking, and dance-musicking as processes of knowing, and community dance and music traditions as knowledge bodies.

Rainy Demerson (002).jpg
Dr. Rainy Demerson (Barbados) is a dance artist, scholar, and educator invested in decolonial embodiment. Her research focuses on Africanité in global contemporary dance spaces. Her work has been published in several journals and anthologies, and she is currently a Lecturer in Dance at the University of the West Indies Cave Hill.

Maryam headshot_550.jpg
Maryam Bagheri Nesami is an Iranian dance writer and researcher based in Tamaki Makaurau, Aotearoa. She holds a PhD in Dance Studies from the University of Auckland. Maryam’s artistic practice and research focuses on sustainable and inclusive strategies to politically negotiate the severe spatio-temporal, racial, sexual, ethnic, gender, etc. segregations. 

Jas 'Ofamo'oni_550.jpg
Ko hoku hingoa ko Jasmin ‘Ofamo’oni. Na’u hau mei Houma, Tongatapu Tonga / Tāuranga, Aotearoa New Zealand.Jas is a dance educator, creative, and an award-winning emerging dance researcher who is currently undertaking a Pacific Doctoral Scholarship at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. She has worked in diverse places such as China, Hawai’i and Malta, aiming to create culturally inclusive tertiary dance pedagogy and advocate for Pacific youth. 

caterina daniela mora jara (1988): I am from Fiske Menuco, living in Brussels and Stockholm. I inquire North in South, South in North. My work aims to problematize the modes of production and representation in Western dance. I promote training-pleasure practices, as inter-relational devices of confrontation with others.I defend the public institution. ‘Yo perreo sola’, I also dance tango and sail a boat. I don’t have Instagram account. My salary comes PhD candidate at SKH (Stockholm University of the Arts), Stockholm, Sweden.  

Keynote 2

8 April at 13:00-14:00

Keynote speakers: Ola Sinnerbom, Ami Skånberg 

Title: Dancing with our ancestors  

Abstract: We have collaborated on an embodied keynote about how we can offer different stories about Sweden and Sápmi where we live. We therefore present a collection of movements to support these narratives. We think of un-conferencing as a way to embed non-word discussions through movement - as a way of communication. Thus, we create time and space for movements as part of our keynote, where we also use video and sound. One of the lights used for walking and dancing through our keynote is the chapter Decolonized-Research-storying: Bringing Indigenous Ontologies and Care into the Practices of Research writing. The authors of the chapter invited Eatname, the earth itself, to become the narrator. We invite specific spaces in Sápmi, Sweden and elsewheres to join our research-storying. We focus on movement and the healing and caring of ancestors in certain spaces. We do this as groundwork in search of unstrategies for decolonizing dance practices. We thus invite non-humans to be dancers, thinkers and activists in our presentation. Our own ancestors are given space to move with us and through us.

Ola Stinnerbom_550.jpg
Ola Stinnerbom. I am a Sámi dancer and educated classical ballet dancer at the Royal Swedish Ballet School, Stockholm. I am also working as choreographer, artist and researcher specializing in Sámi precolonial cultural expression. The missing Sámi dance, the ancient singing tradition called yoik and the mythical Sámi ceremonial drum. Today I have a long-term scholarship from the Swedish Arts Grants Committee for my work with Sámi dance. I have also received funding from the Swedish Cultural Council for my next book -The Sámi trinity, the precolonial cultural expressions. I am also Operations Manager for Sámi Lávdi, Karasjok in Norway, which is a Sámi performing arts organization for the whole of Sápmi. I am also deputy chairman of Sámi Dáiddárráđđi, Sámi Artists' Council, Karasjok in Norway, in close cooperation with the Sámi Parliament, Norway. I work with The Norwegian Center for Arts and Culture in Education where I produce educational material about Sámi dance for all schools throughout Norway. In addition, I run a Sámi production company where I am the Artistic Director.

Dr. Ami Skånberg Dahlstedt. I am a performer, choreographer, filmmaker and teacher. I have a PhD in Dance from University of Roehampton. I am the current Head of the Master’s programme in Contemporary Dance Education at the Stockholm University of the Arts, and I also work at Academy of Music and Drama at University of Gothenburg. I walk slowly as a ceremonial, subversive act thanks to my studies with Nishikawa Senrei in Kyoto since 2000. My research interests are practice-led and concern gender codified movement practice, non-hierarchical treatment of global dance techniques, and auto-ethnographic accounts from within the practice. 2015-2018, I co-chaired the Nordic Summer University Study Circle of Artistic Research with Dr Lucy Lyons. I am a member of the Peer Review board of Journal of Artistic Research since February 2017. My 90 min solo performance A particular act of survival received a performing arts award at Scenkonstgalan in Sweden in 2015. My new screendance piece Ancestor premiered at Dansfilmfestivalen in Feb 2022.

Keynote 3

8 April at 21:00-22:00

Keynote speaker: Sylvia Nannyonga-Tamusuza 

Title: Decolonizing Community Music Education in Higher Education Institutions: A Call to Rethink Content and Pedagogies from an Ethnomusicological Perspective

Abstract: Like in other countries in Africa, community music education in Uganda’s universities continues to be presented in ways that promote theories and methods that perpetuate the colonial legacy. Using an ethnomusicological lens, I critique the community education and advocate for a rethinking of the nature, content knowledge and pedagogies of community music in Uganda.

Sylvia Antonia Nannyonga-Tamusuza_550.jpg
Dr. Sylvia Nannyonga-Tamusuza, PhD, an ethnomusicologist, is Associate Professor of Music and Head of Performing Arts and Film Department, Makerere University. Nannyonga-Tamusuza is the founder and Curator of the Makerere University Klaus Wachsmann Audio-visual Archive. She has published on dance as music and music as dance, gender in music and dance, the interface between ethnomusicology and music education, identities in diasporic music, music repatriation and archiving. She is currently working on decolonizing music education in Uganda.

Conference/un-conference topics

-should depart from the perspectives described above and can relate to topics such as

  • Radical game-changers in tertiary dance education
  • Activism in tertiary dance education
  • Places of privilege / dis-privilege in dance education
  • Pedagogies and approaches in dance practices
  • Institutional organizational structures, staffing and student recruitment
  • Tertiary dance education curriculums
  • Dance archives and their relation to education
  • Pursuing, teaching and performing dance education research
  • Colonial legacies in dance education
  • Academic formats: publications, conferences and presentations in dance
  • Theorizing dance outside the Euro-American canons
  • Dance as a community tool
  • Music as dance and dance as music
  • Historicizing colonization of dance

Presentation formats

  • Single paper presentations facilitated into round table discussions. Individual presenters should submit an abstract for a 20-minute paper presentation. The conference committee will constitute them into a panel of 3 paper presentations. The panel member will be expected to have a dialogue before the presentation. Time per panel presentation: 90 minutes (60-minute presentation and 30-minute discussion)
  • Self-curated round table dialogues: 3 paper presentations in a self-curated group of presenters, each for 20 minutes around the same topic. Time per panel presentation: 90 minutes (60-minute presentation and 30-minute discussion). The presenters should submit one joint self-curated presentation.
  • Critical conversations – collective discussions initiated by a group of presenters who present one topic and organize discussion around the topic with the participants.  Time per critical conversation: 60 minutes
  • Online workshops: A practice-based presentation of your work where the participants take part, digitally, 60 min including discussion.
  • Dance moments: A short pre-recorded performance contribution reflecting one of the conference topics, maximum 5 minutes. Several dance moments will be merged together into one session, followed by a discussion about the dance moments shared, facilitated by one of the conference committee members. Time in total: 90 minutes, 60 minutes for in total 12 dance moments + 30 minutes reflection and discussion with the dance makers.  

With kind regards, the conference committee

Alfdaniels Mabingo, Tone Pernille Østern, Sylvia Antonia Nannyonga-Tamusuza, Lena Hammergren, Rose Martin and Kristine Slettevold

About the hosting institutions

Makerere University, one of the oldest and most prestigious Universities in Africa, prides itself as research-led institution. The Department of Performing Arts and Film, under the College of Humanities and Social Sciences is one of its kind, and offers training and research in music, dance, drama and film under one roof.

Stockholm University of the Arts (SKH) provides education and conducts research in the fields of circus, dance, dance pedagogy, film, media, opera, performing arts and acting. The Department of Dance Pedagogy and the Department of Dance offer study programs and engage in research on the fields of dance and dance education.

About the conference committee

Rose Martin, PhD, is a teacher, researcher, writer, and (usually) a traveller. She is Professor of Arts Education with a focus on Dance and Multiculturalism at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. Coming from Aotearoa/New Zealand and now living in Norway, over the years Rose has worked and danced in locations as diverse as Ramallah, Beijing, and Helsinki. Her research interests include arts education, community dance, experimental ethnographic methods, and dance and politics. 

Lena Hammergren, PhD, is Professor of Dance Theory at Stockholm University of the Arts, and Professor Emerita of Theatre, Dance and Performance Studies at Stockholm University. Together with colleagues from Denmark, Finland and Norway she created NoMAds, a master program in dance studies. This program widens the understanding of dance from historical, participatory, political and aesthetic viewpoints. Lena’s research focus is dance and historiography, and a critique of canonical narratives.

Alfdaniels Mabingo, PhD, is a dance researcher, scholar, and performer from Uganda. He is an Assistant Lecturer of dance at Makerere University. Mabingo has taught dances in diverse communities in the U.S., Australia, South Sudan, Germany, Jamaica, Uganda, and New Zealand. His book titled ‘Ubuntu as Dance Pedagogy: Individuality, Community, and Inclusion in Teaching and Learning of Indigenous Dances in Uganda’ was published by Palgrave McMillan in 2020.

Tone Pernille Østern, Dr. of Arts in Dance, holds a position as Visiting Professor in Dance Education in Contemporary Contexts at Stockholm University of the Arts. She is also Professor in Arts Education with a focus on Dance at NTNU Norwegian University of Science and Technology. She is active as Artist/Researcher/Teacher, with a special interest in socially engaged art, dance in dialogue with contemporary contexts, and inclusive and critical pedagogies.

Kristine N. Slettevold works as dancer, teacher/educator and choreographer. She’s Norwegian, and moved to Sweden 2004 to work as a freelance dancer. She has been working as an Assistant Professor in dance at SKH; Stockholm University of the Arts(former DOCH) since 2010. From 2010-2020 Kristine was Head of program for the BA program in dance performance and in April 2020 she was appointed Head of the Dance Department at SKH.

Sylvia Antonia Nannyonga-Tamusuza, PhD, an ethnomusicologist, is Associate Professor of Music and Head of Performing Arts and Film Department, Makerere University. Nannyonga-Tamusuza is the founder and Curator of the Makerere University Klaus Wachsmann Audio-visual Archive. She has published on dance as music and music as dance, gender in music and dance, the interface between ethnomusicology and music education, identities in diasporic music, music repatriation and archiving. She is currently working on decolonizing music education in Uganda.

Production team

Karin Hauptmann: Producer
Elisabeth Kathleen Ofstad: Digital conference event expertise from NTNU Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Sanna Hagström: Coordinator/Research officer
Per Hedengren: Technical support
Helle Zimmerman: Communication/press

Photo: Andy Day, for DansiT Choreographic Centre (, from the project "Where have you been?" by The Urban Playground Team (UK) during Multiplié dance festival 2018. The artistic profile of Multiplié dance festival is to stretch and challenge ideas about dance, choreography and dancers.