Investigating Cultural Diversity

investigating cultural diversity

What can we learn from other cultural understandings of the body, movement and dance? Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance has been asking this in a variety of ways and now Louisa Pestell, a Projects Manager for Learning and Participation (Dance), has been awarded a Lisa Ullman Travelling Scholarship to travel to East Africa this summer and work with three established dance organisations to promote knowledge exchange.  Laura Mercer (Administrative Assistant, Learning and Participation (Dance)) will be travelling with Louisa and both will visit Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda, where they will be hosted by key dance organisations including Guerrilla Arts (Uganda) Dance Forum Nairobi (Kenya) and Wesley Ruzibiza in Rwanda in connection with Amizero Dance Kompagnie and the National University of Rwanda.

The visit aims to exchange knowledge of the dance sector in East Africa with a view to developing further collaboration with key contacts in the future.  A particular focus on community and education work will be made because of Louisa’s particular area of interest and expertise in it. It also aims to research the ecology of dance in the East African geographical area in order to establish methods of working across a cultural divide in a mutually beneficial, ethical and productive way.

Key activities include:

  • Observation of grassroots engagement and  young dancers’ development and training support provided by partner organisations so as to identify areas with potential for future project collaboration.
  • Exploration of who the partner organsiations work with, how they find dancers from a young age and then how they train them and offer continuing professional development.
  • Research the potential of future cultural exchange projects and how they may (or may not) be of benefit to the key contact organisations and the British partners they work with.

Louisa and Laura’s visit to numerous dance organisations across Eastern Africa will provide an opportunity to profile the work of Learning and Participation (Dance) at Trinity Laban on an international platform.  Additionally, Louisa’s research project will offer her an opportunity to widen her knowledge and perspective of diverse activity in the international community dance sector, directly impacting on her role in Learning and Participation (Dance) and informing Trinity Laban’s understanding of cultural diversity within the Dance subject area. We will follow up with Louisa when she returns in the new Academic Year.

Louisa, who has a research interest in the manifestation of cultural identity in dance and contemporary and creative dance in education and community settings, is also artistic director of Arts Odyssey, a London Based Community Arts Organisation that ‘celebrates Unity through Diversity’.

To find out more about our Learning and Participation departments, visit our web pages here.

Further Information about the Lisa Ullman Travelling Scholarship Fund may be found here.

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