Dance Research Matters Arising

‘Between 2009 and 2012 there was a creative research project directed by Gavin Butt, Adrian Heathfield and Lois Keidan called Performance Matters. I remember at the time enjoying the play on the word matters as both “the matters pertaining to performance” and “performance is something important”. It turns out the word “matters” has a complex and nuanced history way beyond the limits of this post.

The context in which it is most vital today is as the opposite of “no great matter”. When we say something matters we are saying “pay attention here”, as in Black lives matter. Black lives matter is an imperative, something that forcefully reminds humankind that day to day the lives of Black people are of no great matter when the opposite must become the truth.

The title of this conference – Dance Research Matters – is, I suspect, at the very least tone deaf. How dare we? In these times? Dance Research can never be of such no great matter. Perhaps it is important to simply recognise the relative limits of the extent to which something (anything) might matter.

Which leaves me with the other common (but less important) version of the word, not dissimilar to matters arising. I imagine then that we are talking about the matters arising from this collection of practices, traditions, approaches, understandings and dialogues that we call dance research. Dance research is not something to defend or embolden, but rather something to dig into and make sense of.’ Simon Ellis

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