Curating Dance?

A conversation with a dance manager friend got me thinking about dance and curating. She complained not enough people knew how to curate dance events and showcases. A number of platforms that have been advertised, as curated events seemed to have been put together randomly. At times the producing artist simply places himself or herself at the center of the event and presents the other dance companies or performers like supporting acts. In England, it seems to have grown with the entrepreneurialism of the independent dance sector where dance artists get together, form collectives and showcase each other’s work. Support organizations whose aims and objectives are different from those of festivals and theatre venues have also made curating as opposed to programming popular.

The concept of curating comes from visual arts. We wondered together where one could go to learn to curate dance. It seems to me that the skill should be one available to learn. Dance artists in this climate especially have to create opportunities for themselves and curating seems a way forward. It is a skill requires knowledge of art history and audience or stakeholder development. Should this be a skill that dance administrators should learn?

I stumbled across an article a couple of years ago now by Dena Davida on LinkedIn. Entitled ‘Building a Profession for Performing Arts Curation’, the article announced that the outcomes of a conference on this topic is now housed at the website of the Association of Performing Arts Curators of Québec. Evidently many others before my dance manager colleague and I have been wondering where one could go to learn about the curation of the performing arts. And this organization has done something about it.


Dena Davida suggests that the curation is more is about organizing the presentation of work in the ‘context of contemporary thematic concerns’ whilst programming is more business orientated, and is associated more theatre seasons and annual festivals. I am simplifying things of course read so Davida herself. The discussion reminds me how entwined the making of dance is with the organization and presentation of dance. Something we would rather forget.



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