chapter  18
11 Pages

Artistic process as a frame for collaborative, embodied pedagogies

Combining dance with language learning
WithHanna M. Nikkanen, Katja Kirsi, Eeva Anttila

This chapter focuses on a dance project for preparatory class pupils at a public school in Finland. Preparatory classes are intended for recently immigrated children who do not yet know Finnish language. The purpose is to learn Finnish enough to be able to continue their education within regular class instruction. Dance artists and educators affiliated with the Zodiak Center for New Dance have applied and further developed so-called kinaesthetic language workshops for many years (see As a broader aim, we aim to understand how dance can support intersubjective understanding, social interaction and communication especially in groups where the members come from diverse backgrounds and do not have a common spoken language.

The project has been designed in alignment with the guidelines of the renewed National Core Curriculum for Basic Education. Although it encourages embodied learning and crossing borders between subjects, and although the school staff has welcomed the project, it has been challenging to find time, space and trust for dance and artistic processes in the subject-driven and tightly scheduled school life.

In this chapter, we describe how Zodiak’s teaching artists and schoolteachers have crossed borders between formal school education and non-formal dance education to gain new insights on the educational potential of dance. Crossing boundaries in terms of cross-curricular pedagogy that integrates dance education and language learning, as well as arts and academics more broadly, these pedagogical approaches have also brought together diverse groups of pupils, especially regular instruction groups with preparatory classes. This project has made recently arrived students visible and offered them possibilities for becoming active agents within the school community.