The National Association of Dance and Mime Animateurs (1986-9): a community of practice




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Dance Research



Peer reviewed



The Foundation for Community Dance is the national lead body for community dance in the UK. It has been at the forefront of the development of community dance in Britain continuously for over twenty five years. It began, in 1986, as the National Association of Dance and Mime Animateurs (NADMA). This professional association of dance practitioners (referred to at the time as animateurs) sought to raise awareness of a newly identified profession and provide a forum for the dissemination of the forms, working processes and techniques needed to work successfully in community settings. This paper seeks to instigate a critical assessment of NADMA’s work by considering it in relation to theoretical debates concerning cultural provision and pedagogic practice of the time and, subsequently, to the theory of communities of practice. The paper considers the cultural and educational policy contexts within which the dance animateurs, who formed and ran the association, worked. This helps explain the multiple demands and tensions, inherent in the cultural and pedagogic politics of the time, to which the profession was subject. The paper suggests that these were ultimately managed through the cooperative and collective working of NADMA members. In the five years following NADMA’s formation some key parameters for dance development in Britain were established. The paper suggests that NADMA made a significant contribution to such development by helping to create a more integrated, adaptable dance profession and an infrastructure for participatory dance that pre-figured the national dance agency network of the 1990s.



Dance, Community arts, Community dance, British dance history


Stevens, J. (2013) The National Association of Dance and Mime Animateurs (1986-9): a community of practice. Dance Research, 31 (2) pp.157-173.


Research Institute