Growing The Network of Integrated Dance

Growing The Network of Integrated Dance

By Silva Laukkanen 

I have had the opportunity and privilege to participate in dance conferences and festivals over the years. Some were massive gatherings with hundreds of participants and many workshop sessions to choose from. Others were small, local festivals like my very first experience with Body Shift back in 2009, when Forklift Danceworks and VSA Texas (now Art Spark Texas) organized our very first weekend intensive led and attended by local dancers.

three dancers with and without disabilities positioned in a row. The dancer in the middle is holding onto the wheelchair of the dancer in front of them. The third dancer is holding onto the shoulders of the dancer in front of them.

In 2016, I participated in my very first MeetShareDance, which happened in my native Finland. What I found different about the MeetShareDance experience was that the whole group took all the workshops together, and the other teachers participated in everyone’s workshops. It felt like there was less of a hierarchy, as if there was an unspoken understanding that everyone in the room held important knowledge. 

On the last day of each MeetShareDance festival, there is a street parade where the whole group arrives at a public space in the city where the festival takes place. We dance there using the skills and techniques learned from the workshops presented during the festival. It is, and was, such a rewarding, positive, and empowering experience!

dancers with and without disabilities perform outside on a city street.
Silva at MeetShareDance Finland

The first MeetShareDance Festival happened in May 2012 and was supposed to be ‘just’ a gathering of a few dance friends. In Madrid, participants danced in the studio, on the subway, and in the streets. Ten years later, the MeetShareDance festival has been organized nine times, been in seven different cities and countries, hosted more than 400 dancers, 43 international teachers, and taught 54 dance workshops.

Today, we are proud to announce that MeetShareDance Festival is happening for the first time in the US, and it’s here in Austin! MeetShareDance is an international festival based on inter-exchange philosophy, promoting the exchange of knowledge and experience through workshops. This is the tenth MeetShareDance festival, which has previously happened in seven European countries. Participants can expect three days of exciting programming, including four different workshops and a street parade, as well as meeting new professionals and dancers in the field of inclusive dance.

Confirmed artist-teachers are:

•Monika Požek the founder of MeetShareDance (Madrid, Spain)

•Eric Kupers of Dandelion Dancetheater (San Francisco, CA)

•Nina Martin of Lower Left (Marfa, TX)

•Amy Morrow of The Theorists (Austin, TX).

MeetShareDance flyer.

We will meet at UT Dance Department on Friday, and after the workshop, we are welcome to go and see the Fall for Dance performance. On Saturday, we will continue the workshops at the ZACH Theatre. We will meet in downtown Austin on Sunday, where we will warm up and do our Street Parade. 

You can register on our Eventbrite page or by calling the Art Spark Texas office at 512-454-9912, ext 102. You can contribute at the level you are comfortable with, or if you need a free registration, please email [email protected].

If you are planning on attending from out-of-town and are looking for someone to share accommodations with, please email [email protected] and we will connect you. 

If you are local and can offer your room, house, or rental for our out-of-town guests, please email [email protected].

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