A few words about Provocations…

Welcome to our very first volume of Provocations: drama+dance in education where we share drama and dance teaching/learning stories by teachers, artist-educators, and students. Provocations is excited to shine a light on the powerful learning that transpires daily in drama and dance classrooms across Ontario and beyond!

This publication has four distinct sections:

soliloquy is a space for an editorial introduction to each volume. This may be written by a member of our editorial board, or by a guest contributor.

folio includes teaching/learning stories presented in diverse formats: articles, interviews, video, etc.

cue2cue is reserved for reviews and recommendations of drama and dance books, articles, and resources.

touchstone presents artistic expressions by teachers, students, and artists.

photo: Glen Carrie, unsplash

Words, Words, Words

A few words about context…

Words, Words, Words - our first edition of Provocations- is released to the world during a time of great clamour. Our screen lives bombard us incessantly with words and images, insisting that we pay attention. We are called upon to wake up to ourselves, to Mother Earth, to one another, and to the world; to listen to the voices of those most harmed by racism and the ongoing colonial project; to confront our own complicity in systems that were created to preserve white supremacy and to use our words and our power to effect change.

Resistance and change often begin in art,

and very often in our art - the art of words.

-Ursula LeGuin

A few words about words…

“Words, Words, Words” (Shakespeare, 2.2.210) replies Hamlet when Polonius asks him what he is reading. What does Hamlet mean when he says, Words, words, words? Is he dismissing the power of words; suggesting they are meaningless? Is he being snide? humorous? provocative? Is he raging, existentially, about the limits of words? Shakespeare’s words are carried across time to be puzzled and queried and interpreted and performed. There is ambiguity here; the possibility of multiple meanings, offering rich territory for exploration.

Robert Eisinger (2011), the dean of liberal arts at the Savannah College of Art and Design, speaks to the ambiguity and uncertainty of our times, and suggests that perhaps our best response to the fluidity that surrounds us is to teach our students what ambiguity is, and how to appreciate it. We do this well in drama and dance. The teachers and arts educators I love to collaborate with embrace ambiguity, uncertainty, non-binary understandings, and multiple meanings; in fact we often “chase ambiguity” (Roe, 2017) for its powerful potential to catalyze critical, creative engagement in our classrooms.

In this edition of Provocations, you will encounter many examples of students and teachers wrestling with the ambiguity and power of words.

Gavin’s Purpose: a student film by Alice Graham with a pedagogical statement by teacher Matthew Sheahan

Partners in Playwriting by Claire Holland: an account of her process for collaboratively developing plays with junior level students

Intergenerational Cultural Cooking as a Pedagogical Praxis by Wallis Caldoza and Cherie Daniel, with an introduction by Jessie Kennedy: a narrated photo essay about nourishment through shared story and community

Why is it so hard to talk about the N-word? by Sharon Davidson: an inquiry into challenging conversations and encounters with racism

Using Maps in Drama by Patrice Baldwin: a teacher story about using maps to animate the drama elements of place and time through teacher in role and student in role.

You’re a Mean One, Mrs. Finch by Brendon Allen: an original play, suitable for Grades 7-10

Let’s Watch the Roots Grow by Cecilia Liu: a zine and reflection by a teacher candidate

A few words about unwording…

“When will you learn that there isn't a word for everything?

(The History of Love, p.13).

I imagine we have all been in that place where words have failed us; where words were insufficient to convey the thought, feeling, or experience of a moment. Isn’t this why we turn to dance, physical theatre, instrumental music, and visual arts - to think, speak, and relate in ways that are not hampered by traditional, dominant vocabularies? To encounter ambiguity without feeling the need to define and label the experience? Dance can unword us and unfix us; that is to say, dance can free us to explore and communicate what we know and understand, without words. Or sometimes, in combination with words. The dance pedagogy and performances shared in this volume clearly reflect Elliot Eisner’s pronouncement that “the limits of our cognition are not defined by the limits of our language” (2002, p.12). There is resonance in the unworded, embodied voices assembled here:

Self-portrait by d’bi young anitafrika: a video featuring d'b dancing and talking about dance as a process of decolonizing the body

Rewind, Redefine and Redesign: 3 videos of student choroegraphy, remaking classical performances for a 21st century context, and a pedagogical statement by teacher Candice Spykes

Shifting Roles in Virtual Learning Environments by Michel Li: an account of unexpected outcomes for teachers and students during the pandemic

N95 by Huang Danang Huang: original choreography and pedagogical statement by a post-secondary student

Body Talk: Teaching Dance as a Language by Christine Jackson: an essay outlining a pedagogical approach to teaching dance in elementary classrooms, with an appendix of sample activities

A few words about art as provocation…

Two artists have generously shared artwork in this volume. We have included some possible prompts or provocations to inspire inquiry and response through drama and dance.

Uncovered by Alex Smart

Patina 1 by Nancy Gauvin

A few words about resources...

Three practising teachers have shared book and resource reviews to inform our practice:

Kim Snider

Joanna Perlus

Megan Schroeder

A few words of thanks...

I want to acknowledge and thank the Editorial Board for their outstanding dedication and good work over the past 18 months:

Anastasia Lainas-Hayward

Brendon Allen

Jan Buley

Jane Deluzio

Jessie Kennedy

Matthew Sheahan

Thank you also to the Editorial Advisory:

Ayesatta Conteh

Claire Holland

Juliana Saxton

Justine Bruyere

Moksha Serrano

Thank you to the Council of Ontario Drama and Dance Educators (CODE) for supporting this project from its inception. The participation of executive members on our editorial board and communication with the CODE community has been invaluable.

Finally, thank you to all of the teachers and students who have shared their stories, experiences, and pedagogical impulses in this inaugural edition of Provocations. I hope, dear readers, that you will consider joining the chorus of voices in our next publication, titled: Holding Space and Bearing Witness through Drama and Dance. For details, see our Volume 2 Call for Submissions.

Please reach out to us with questions, feedback, and suggestions for future publications

here. Also, please bear in mind that we are a collective of volunteers doing our best to ensure accuracy of conventions and grammar. We hope you will be kind and generous if we have missed anything.

On behalf of the Editorial team, I wish you all good health, good relations, and good stories!

Christine Jackson

Managing Editor, Provocations: drama+dance



Eisner, E. (2002). What can Education Learn from the Arts about the Practice of Education. Journal of Curriculum and Supervision,

18 (1), 4-16.

Eisinger, R. (2011, February 21). Teaching Ambiguity. Inside Higher Ed. www.insidehighered.com/views/2011/02/21/teaching-ambiguity

Krauss N. (2006). The History of Love. W.W.Norton & Co.

Roe, S. (2017). Chasing ambiguity: critical reflections on working with dance graduates. Research in Dance Education, 18 (2), 205- 216.

Christine Jackson, Managing Editor

Christine has provided arts leadership in a variety of contexts, as a teacher and Arts Coordinator at the Toronto District School Board, Arts Education Officer at the Ministry of Education, and faculty member at OISE/UT, York University, and Brock University.