The entanglements of writing and dance: Creative dance integration in primary school students’ creative writing

Submitted by: Sofia Jusslin
Abstract: Bodily modes of meaning are emphasized as part of students’ comprehensive literacy education. Still, in comparison to, for example, verbal and visual modes, bodily modes have not received equal attention in educational practices and educational research. In my PhD project, I approach this by integrating creative dance into fifth-graders’ creative writing. Creative writing has many similarities with meaning-making in dance-making and research has suggested that dance can challenge creative writing practices and that combining writing and dancing can enhance development and learning in both forms of expression.

The PhD project is conducted as an educational design research project (McKenney & Reeves, 2012) that aims to (a) develop and investigate teaching pedagogies with creative dance in the teaching of creative writing and (b) further the theoretical knowledge of combining writing with dance in educational settings. Adopting a broad and holistic view on writing and meaning-making using a theoretical lens informed by new materialism (Barad, 2003, 2007) and embodied learning (Anttila, 2013), creative dance is used to further develop, inspire and support phases of prewriting, writing, revision, editing and publishing.

Two research cycles are conducted in 2018-2019 by a design team consisting of researchers, a dance teacher and primary school teachers. Drawing on multiple sources of data, such as video recorded dance lessons, interviews with students, audio recorded planning and evaluation meetings, lesson plans, student texts and field notes, my thesis will include sub studies with focus on theoretical, methodological and empirical aspects of creative dance integration in students’ creative writing. In this presentation, I present an overview of the vast empirical data and wish to discuss possible delimitations in the empirical sub studies.

Key words: creative dance; creative writing; dance literacy; educational design research;


Anttila, E. (2013). Koko koulu tanssii! Kehollisen oppimisen mahdollisuuksia kouluyhteisössä [The entire school dances! The opportunities of embodied learning in a school community]. Helsinki, Finland: Teatterikorkeakoulu.
Barad, K. (2003). Posthumanist Performativity: Toward an Understanding of How Matter Comes to Matter. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 28(3), 801–831.
Barad, K. (2007). Meeting the universe halfway: Quantum physics and the entanglement of matter and meaning. Durham & London: Duke University Press.
McKenney, S., & Reeves, T. C. (2012). Conducting educational design research. Abingdon: Routledge.