A conversation with dance artist Heidi Seppälä about decolonial dance teaching, Nordic-West African cooperation and studies in separate teacher’s pedagogical studies in the arts.

Kenneth Siren from UNIARTS Helsinki wrote a beautiful article about Heidi’s work in a blog of Helsinki Art University. The article is in Finnish, and deals with Heidi’s work at Villa Karo’s artist residency. In addition to teaching dance to children in an orphanage, she was organizing and running a workshop exploring hegemonic power relations and masculinity in Lagos, Nigeria. The workshop organized by the group DANCO — School of De-Colonizing the Art of Dance took place at the Center for Contemporary Art Lagos in March 2022.

“With the help of dance and other physical exercises, we were dealing with the kind of roles men have to take on in society — and how difficult those roles are,” says Heidi, describing the workshops, which were also organized by DANCO’s Emmanuel Ndefo and Jalmari Nummiluikki, and which were attended by artists from Benin and Nigeria of various fields.  “With the help of art, we got to grips with the things that are taken for granted.”

The group organised workshops to discuss and embody approaches to masculinity in both Nordic or West African contexts. “People can have terrible prejudices of how the manifestation and performance of masculinity has to be somehow different here and there,” Heidi describes. Instead, the working group concluded that they did not find big differences, but that toxic masculinity manifested itself in very similar ways. Heidi has questioned the focus on cultural differences, and argues that basically the differences we tend to look for, lives in individualities. “I feel that you can find the same types of people in all countries, as long as you know enough people,” she says.

Read the full article in Finnish here: https://blogit.uniarts.fi/post/mita-opetetaan-ja-miksi-kohti-dekolonialistista-tanssinopetusta/


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