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The Canadian Society for Dance Studies

Ending Sixteen Years of Serving Dance Studies By Emma Kerson
  • Sarah Chase and Tara Cheyenne Friedenberg in conversation with Peter Dickinson at the Canadian Society for Dance Studies Biennial Conference (Vancouver, 2014) / Photo by Kathryn Ricketts

After sixteen years of service in the field of dance studies, the Canadian Society for Dance Studies/La Société canadienne d’études en danse (CSDS/SCED) has ceased activity. In a letter circulated in February 2017, the board of directors and the organization’s founder, Amy Bowring, announced the dissolution, citing low membership renewals and consequently less access to administrative funding.

Since 2000, the CSDS/SCED has acted as a support and advocacy group for those working in the field of dance studies. The organization, which offered a pay-what-you-can annual membership, offered to promote and circulate research and writing in the field through a forum where dance researchers across the country could converse, connect and discuss their work. As advocates, the CSDS/SCED aimed to raise awareness of the dance studies and pushed for its inclusion in post-secondary dance schools, private dance schools, academic institutions and public schools. 

One key benefit of membership in the society was its listserv. According to CSDS/SCED board member Seika Boye, “it was a way to stay connected, to ask questions, to announce events, to connect to new and old colleagues. With conferences being held every two years, the listserv was the glue between members and between conferences.”

Dance Collection Danse (DCD) will now host a free listserv, replacing that of the CSDS/SCED. “There is still a need for a network of communication between people with common interest,” says Boye, “and it is a dangerous assumption to think that everyone is on social media. We do not want people to be excluded or left behind.”

The CSDS/SCED acknowledged that their decision was based on their own limited resources. Boye notes that “effective advocacy is amorphous by nature, even though it also requires structure and organization. Organizations cannot run on goodwill alone.”

But Bowring and the board also felt the development of other communities and organizations in the past two decades and the changing needs of individuals working in the field of dance studies meant they are not leaving members without the resources they need. Their announcement cited DCD, dance programs and research at universities, the Canadian Dance Assembly and the Canadian Association for Theatre Research as a part of this growing system of support and community engagement.

In their letter, they conclude that “The field of dance studies in Canada has changed immensely since 2000 and there are networks and mechanisms in place to help us to continue to support, evolve and strengthen the role that dance studies plays in academia, in the dance profession, in our nation.”

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