An agent for change: A legacy of dance education in Aotearoa


Thirty-one years on from the founding of the National Diploma of Contemporary Dance (which is currently the Unitec Bachelor of Contemporary Dance – School of Performing and Screen Arts) this reflection celebrates the legacy of dance educator and eco-choreographer Alison East. Initiated by a panel presentation at the Leap Symposium held at the end of 2019 at The University of Otago, in Ōtepoti/Dunedin, the panel also marked the thirty years celebration of the Unitec Bachelor of Contemporary Dance and the cessation of the Dance programme within the School of Physical Education, University of Otago. My input to this panel focused on the unique contribution to dance education that Alison East fostered in Tāmaki Makaurau, Aotearoa in the late 1980s and early 1990s. This personal written reflection delves into the currency of East’s pedagogy in today’s context; its beginnings, the position and relationship of the school to the global scene, its visionary concerns for land, place and a more than human and more than dance positioning, with vanguard approaches to dance education and the embodied legacy of dance training that survives in a community of practitioners touched by East’s pedagogy over the years.

@ The University of Waikato