Dancing with cultural difference: Challenges, transformation and reflexivity in culturally pluralist dance education


In this article I describe aspects of an ethnographic inquiry in which I investigated the challenges faced by some New Zealand teachers when teaching about culturally different dances, an expectation of the Arts in the New Zealand Curriculum (Ministry of Education, 2000, 2007). Until relatively recently dance education in New Zealand emphasised Eurocentric creative dance, and teaching about culturally different dances presented new challenges for teachers. Some of the teachers, for instance, were challenged by their lack of skills in cultural dances other than creative dance. Transformative learning and developing a reflexive view of dances from different cultures are pedagogical concepts that underpin the ANZC and I position them as key to exploring some transformations that could inform teaching about dances contextually, in theory and practice, for both learners and teachers. My main aim in this article is to inform and support the development of an ethical and sustainable culturally pluralist pedagogy in which our responsibilities to the people whose dances we study are an important and timely concern (Ashley, 2012b). I also depict this topic as providing substantial potential for further research.


@ The University of Waikato