Men & Girls Dance (REF 2021 Practice Research Submission)

Harradine, David (2020) Men & Girls Dance (REF 2021 Practice Research Submission). The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London. ISBN 978-1-8383967-8-7


Developed and presented through multiple platforms over 7 years (2013–20), Men & Girls Dance responds to dominant social and media discourses which construct men’s relationships with children as overwhelmingly negative. The research centres on a semi-choreographed, semi-improvised performance, developed and presented through an innovative partnership and touring model. Contextual materials and further mechanisms for engagement bring people together to discuss and debate the project’s themes.

The research aimed to propose positive, embodied narratives of care, playfulness and trust in relationships between men and children, whilst also developing new approaches to performance touring in the UK to engage diverse publics with these narratives. This was achieved through a complex, interwoven methodology, which aligned, for the first time, focuses on choreographic research, new strategies for participation and inclusion, and a new approach to performance touring. The project arises from multiple contexts: historical lineages of dance practice that explore, interrogate and remodel ways to think about gender; contemporary performance practices in which children act as co-creators and established systems of performance touring, participation and public engagement, which the research seeks to reimagine, remodel and advance.

The research has proven that contemporary, experimental dance practice can create and disseminate effective new narratives of intergenerational relationships, thereby opening up discussion and debate, and that dance, as an embodied practice, is the effective artform for this. The research has also found that contextual materials and bespoke formats for dialogue and debate significantly contribute to the potential for contemporary performance to contribute to socio-political debate, and it has created effective new approaches to touring, enabling impactful social engagement.

In 2017, Men & Girls Dance was runner up for The Guardian University Award for Social and Community Impact and a shortlisted finalist for Times Higher Education’s Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Research Project of the Year.


Published Version - PDF (REF 2021 Practice Research Submission)

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