Network action: Dancing/Archives

Ur dansarkivet. Tack till Gunilla Witt.
Ur dansarkivet. Tack till Gunilla Witt.

I am pleased to let you know that a new network namned Dancing/Archives as been born. It is supported by Kortvarigt Nätverksstöd från Nordisk Kulturkontakt (Nordic Culture Point/Short-term Network Funding   

Participating in my role as director of Centre for Critical Heritage Studies (CCHS) and professor of Art history and Visual Studies at the University of Gothenburg, my engagement in the network brings to the fore: 

  • CCHS longterm development of dance as critical heritage
  • multisensory scenographic approaches to art and performing arts archives and histories 
  • Support and place making for the younger generation of dance and critical heritage practitioners and scholars 

Attending a network meeting and workshop in Copenhagen 2-3 September 2023 I can testify to the critical heritage importance of this emerging network. 

Network organizer and participant Carolina Bäckman writes: "Denne weekend mødtes det nyetablerede nordiske netværk Dancing/Archives i Københavns Universitets smukke dansesal! Forskning, forståelser, fantasi, fortid og fremtid indenfor kropslig og koreografisk funderet arkivpraksis blev delt, danset og diskuteret. 

Tusinde tak til @Solveig Styve Holte, og @Per Roar fra Norge, @Astrid von Rosen og @Anna Björk fra Sverige og til holdet fra København ; @Franziska Bork Petersen, @Anna Lawaetz og @Karen Vedel, der sammen med mig og partner in crime @Andrea Deres fra @Danske Dansehistorier åbner op for nye tænkninger og tilgange. Old shit is the new shit – jeg glæder mig så meget til at ses igen i Oslo i November."

Importantly, the network is to be understood as a foundational platform, a forum where the participants can share and think in specific ways. Initially it will not be a predominantely public feature. 

/Astrid von Rosen

Project Description 

"Dancing/Archives" is a newly established network for Nordic artists, researchers and archivists working within dance history and archival research, through the exploration of bodily and choreographic practices. There is a momentum for archival research in dance and choreography through current innovative projects in several Nordic countries. The participants of the network engage with experimental methods such as participatory archiving, artistic research, re-enactments and site specific research. In these activities they explore various historical individuals and connections within Nordic dance history. 

Bringing professionals in this overlapping artistic and academic field together in one network creates significant value both for the partners and their projects, for the development of an emerging research area and for a more substantiated understanding of Nordic dance history. The ways that dance and choreography as an art form have been archived and historicized in Nordic contexts are not systematic, nor complete. And although fragmented material traces (eg. reviews, notes, video recordings and photographs) can be found and used to trace some aspects of the past; it is somewhat deficient to explore an immaterial art form situated in the now, solely through material records. Correspondingly, knowledge preserved in the bodies of dancers constitute an almost unexplored source in archival research. 

To explore and expand historical understandings of dance and choreography by acknowledging artistic and choreographic methods, body memory and perception through movement, is therefore both exciting and important in order to map and acknowledge dance as cultural heritage in a Nordic context. 

The activities of the network will circulate around practice sharing and dialogue to strengthen the field. There will be two online-meetings and two physical encounters between the partners of the network. The online-meetings ( in June -23 and Jan. -24) will focus on mapping and discussing dance history and dance archival research in a Nordic context; where does it take place, what are the ressources, how is it communicated between researchers and to the public – and what are the potentials? 

The first physical encounter will take place during an intense weekend in August -23 at the University of Copenhagen, where all partners will meet and share their current research interest and discuss methods. The second physical encounter will take place in Oslo in November, in relation to partner Solveig Styve Holte's mid-term Ph.D. disputation. 

The "Dancing/Archives"-network is initiated by the artistic initiative Danske Dansehistorier/Danish Dance Stories (represented by independent artists Carolina Bäckman and Andrea Deres) in collaboration with Ass. Prof. Karen Vedel and Ph. D. Franziska Franziska Bork Petersen, University of Copenhagen Norwegian partners are Phd. fellow Solveig Styve Holte and Dr. Per Roar. Swedish partners are dance archivist Anna Björk and Prof. at Gothenburg University, Astrid Von Rosen. In the Symposium in Copenhagen and the encounter in Oslo, some local researchers and artists will participate. The partners of the network agree on the great relevance of establishing connections within the Nordic region, as an important step to strengthen an under-explored field of performing arts. Through these activities the network will provide a rare and significant opportunity of encountering peers both in conversation and through practice. The short-term network will thereby provide space for development, criticality and an important collegial support. By establishing the network with representatives from Denmark, Sweden and Norway to act as ambassadors in the short-term network, the long-term ambition is to establish a larger network involving more participants in the Nordic and Baltic region. In addition to artists and researchers this could include archivists, curators and dance educators – who can be part of communicating new (hi)stories of dance and choreography in the Nordic and Baltic region. 

The established historiography of modern and post-modern stage dance is centered around a handful of North American and Central European choreographers. The understanding of which artists, events and contexts, that have shaped history in dance and choreography in a Nordic and Baltic context, is on the other hand somewhat more fragmented. The material archives of dance's traces; photographs, diaries, notation sketches, recordings etc. are sparse and difficult to access. In recent years, attention has been drawn to the need for locally based archiving and history, not least because there is a growing interest in the dissemination of the intangible knowledge in the bodies of artists, which must be accessed through bodily, choreographic methods. Current initiatives for dance historiography in the Nordic countries are important and experimental and the impact of exchanging experiences and knowledge will contribute to an expanded understanding of relationships between past and present dance & choreography in a Nordic context. Calling attention to the area will hopefully contribute to more resources to develop this field. 

List of Partners: Denmark Karen A. Vedel, Ass. Prof. Copenhagen University, Franziska Bork Petersen, Ph.D. Copenhagen University, Carolina Bäckman, MFA. Dance & Participation Freelance, Andrea Deres, MFA Dance & Participation Freelance, Norway Per Roar, Ph.D. Head of MA Choreography Oslo National Academy of the Arts Academy of Dance, Solveig Styve Holte, Ph.D Research Fellow Oslo National Academy of the Arts, Academy of Dance, Sweden Astrid von Rosen, Prof. Gothenburg University, Anna Björk, Svenskt Visarkiv (To be confirmed)