Exploring identities in dance

Proceedings from the 13th World Congress of Dance and the Child International
by Charlotte Svendler Nielsen & Susan R. Koff

The 13th World Congress of Dance and the Child International (daCi) was held 5–10 July 2015 in Copenhagen Denmark hosted by the Dance Halls, Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports, University of Copenhagen and the Danish National School of Performing Arts.

The World Congress explored the theme of identity in dance as it is experienced in formal, non-formal and informal settings of education. The program included a variety of activities and presentation formats such as Nordic Dance Flavour workshops, invited keynotes, Creative Meeting Points, Twin Labs, Youth Forums, Professional Forums, papers, panels, roundtables, research and dance workshops, project dialogues, lecture sharing, performances of young people and professional companies.

Dance is part of four recognised artistic areas within arts education, which is acknowledged as a key area within UNESCO’s 21st Century Skills. Dance education, in particular, puts an emphasis on the role of the body in artistic processes, and the body is in current research in educational studies, psychology and neurophysiology highlighted as being the ‘place’ where experiences, cognition and identity processes are grounded. A person’s identity is multi-faceted and believed to be constantly developing in intertwinement with embodied and cultural experiences, social relations and the various situations that the human being experiences. This understanding of identity formed the base for the Congress presentations to explore:

How can we comprehend and describe identity in the 21st Century?

What kinds of identity are experienced and expressed in dance practice of young people around the world today?
What role does dance play for young people to define and perceive their own and others’ identities?
How do professionals working with dance and young people comprehend and articulate their own professional identity?
Following the event, authors of papers, panels, and project dialogues were invited to submit their contributions for these proceedings, the second that are hosted online by Ausdance. The submissions are organised into the themes of the congress program: Embodiment, Empowerment, Assessment, and Education. In addition, there are a few special papers: two papers that report research as recipients of the Across Borders Research Fund from daCi, and one Roundtable report that followed a keynote and the Youth Forums report.

We appreciate the support of all those who made these proceedings a possibility and hope that you will enjoy reading. Please click here to read the proceedings. 

Susan R. Koff and Associate Professor
Charlotte Svendler Nielsen, 
Co-Editors and co-chairs of the Congress committee for papers, panels, and project dialogues.

daCi In Print: twice a year we will spread daCi news to our members. 


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daCi provides support and information to members to:

  • develop and increase membership numbers;

  • promote exchange (Twinning) between members;

  • engage in research concerned with dance for children and young people.


Click to download:

Twinning guidelines I Twinning application form

Research guidelines  I Research Application form


daCi provides support and information to dance professionals who realise a new national chapter in their own country.


Click to download: 


New Country guidelines I New Country application form 

The Copenhagen Declaration

About learning in arts education

Invited keynote speakers for the Copenhagen 2015 daCi World Congress Ralph Buck (NZ) and Erica Rose Jeffrey (Aus) during the week of the congress discussed the formulation of a ”Copenhagen Declaration” about learning in arts education with children, young people and adults attending the congress. The document highlights how the arts including dance can contribute to education in a broad perspective and in relation to sustainable development and global citizenship as areas prioritized by the UN and UNESCO. The proposal was presented at the closing keynote speech of the congress and during this event it was also handed over to the Secretary General of the Danish National Commission for UNESCO Jens Dalsgaard. Both the Danish National Commission and daCi will use the declaration to help the on-going international work of strengthening the opportunities for children and young people to meet the arts in their education. The declaration is an example of how research and practice can work together to create new knowledge and political action which can help implementing this knowledge for the future benefit of practice. 

1. Dance and the Child International (daCi) proposes the Copenhagen Declaration as per the following statutes:

1.1  Recalling that on November 4, 2011, the 36th session of UNESCO’s General Conference (Resolution 36/C55), invited Member States to ensure the follow-up to the Second World Conference on Arts Education by employing the strategies proposed in the Seoul Agenda: Goals for the Development of Arts Education and by implementing in a concerted manner the action items set out therein for the renewal of education systems; 

1.2  Bearing in mind that “The Seoul Agenda calls upon UNESCO Member States, civil society, professional organizations and communities to recognize its governing goals, to employ the proposed strategies, and to implement the action items in a concerted effort to realize the full potential of high quality arts education to positively renew educational systems, to achieve crucial social and cultural objectives, and ultimately to benefit children, youth and life-long learners of all ages”; 

1.3  Having examined the strategies and action items of Goal 3 of the Seoul Agenda with reference to applying “arts education principles and practices to contribute to resolving the social and cultural challenges facing today’s world”; 

1.4  Recalling that on 20 December 2002 at its 57th session, the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 57/254, declaring the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) (2005 – 2014) and furthermore the Global Action Programmes (GAP) on ESD adopted at the 37th session of the General Conference of UNESCO, 2013 (37/c Resolution 12) providing the road map in the post 2015 agenda; 

1.5  Noting the importance of Education for Sustainable Development which “aims to help people to develop the attitudes, skills, perspectives and knowledge to make informed decisions and act upon them for the benefit of themselves and others, now and in the future” with a view to helping “the citizens of the world to learn their way to a more sustainable future”; and, 

1.6  Recognizing the shared responsibility of researchers and practitioners in dance education and education for sustainable development to promote the goals of ESD in the years following the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development and the capacity of dance education to effect social and cultural change. 


2. Dance and the Child International (daCi):

2.1 Calls upon dance educators to explore ways in which they can empower and mobilize young people around the world to contribute to sustainable development; 

2.2 Calls upon dance educators to support education that is based on principles of equity, inclusion and gender equality; 

2.3 Calls upon dance educators to advocate for all learners to be taught by professional, competent, committed, and well supported teachers at all levels of education who are able to respond to diverse learning needs;

2.4  Invites 'Twinning' relationships to foster stakeholder commitment to advance arts education for sustainable development.

2.5 Declares its intention to actively promote the shared goals of arts education and education for sustainable development in cooperation with UNESCO. 


Proclaimed in Copenhagen, 10 July 2015, on the occasion of the Dance and the Child International Congress, ‘Twist and Twin: Exploring identities in dance’, in consultation with the daCi Executive Council, Congress participants, and the Danish National Commission for UNESCO.