Relational innovation in Aotearoa / New Zealand contemporary dance training

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Byrnes, Vanessa
Griggs, Charene
Foster-Sproull, Sarah
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Conference Contribution - Oral Presentation
Ngā Upoko Tukutuku (Māori subject headings)
dance education
Unitec courses
Unitec Dance Programme
collaborative learning
contemporary dance
collaborative creativity
New Zealand
Byrnes, V. K., Griggs, C., Foster-Sproull, S. (2018, October). Relational innovation in Aotearoa / New Zealand contemporary dance training. Paper presented by Vanessa Byrnes at the 2018 International Dance Education Forum: the Symposium on the 40th Annivesary of China's Higher Dance Education.
In the developing economies of the 21st Century where creativity is an essential skillset, understanding how group interactions can be organised into collaborative and creative endeavours is a significant matter. This has implications for artistic, economic, social, political, and cultural growth. From an embodied perspective, the relationships between dance students, dance lecturers, choreographers, and associated creative practitioners impact the dance works created as well as the people creating them. Relational and situational pedagogies that draw on innovation are central to this initiative. Within New Zealand, we respond to evolving industry demands with particular practices that include artistic responsibility, creative intelligence, and bicultural approaches, all underpinned by an approach that seeks to unearth the unique individual artistic voice. The Unitec Dance Programme features a distinctive teaching philosophy that activates key 21st century skills with particular focus on creativity and collaborative art making practices. Within the programme, the mastery of discipline-specific, critical, creative, imaginative, and collaborative literacies sits alongside the application of high-level practical and interpersonal skills. Unitec’s approach to pedagogical practice is coupled with the unique creative context of New Zealand’s location as a multicultural arts hub within the Pacific. This provides an unparalleled environment in which to advance innovative, creative, and rigorous new dance practices. We advocate that to flourish, and for students’ creative outcomes to evolve and sustain in inimitable ways, it is important to design creative conditions that cultivate deep personal and professional investment and belonging. We call this approach Relational Innovation. This paper draws on 30 years of Contemporary Dance training experience at Unitec
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