about communication in contemporary dance


table of contents


Trust is the basic condition for an act of communication to arise and exist, let alone succeed. 

What influences our sense of trust?  How to create trust in a field in which the personal and the professional are so closely intertwined?

What influences our sense of trust?

There are times you meet someone whom you trust instantly.  But generally, in work and life, to trust someone takes time.  Whether you experience trust depends on many factors. A sense of trust can for example be affected by:

  • Lack of clarity around the boundaries between the personal and the professional (whether topics of conversation, communication channels or timing/place of conversations)
  • Lack of transparency and understanding of roles, responsibilities and hierarchies
  • Lack of transparency about what someone can and cannot offer or feasibly deliver
  • The level of (artistic) freedom given
  • Lack of responsiveness/communication
  • Working from unshared or different values
  • Expectations and assumptions surrounding: money, use of language, influence, support, results and impact
  • Not delivering on promises made

How to build trust?

Trust is a lot about actively embracing a positive attitude towards a person, a topic or a situation.

Building trust and actively developing this attitude is something you can do in every conversation and every exchange you have with a colleague. First, it is about creating the conditions for conversation, which you can read about in our chapter on Dialogue.

Second, it is about developing conversational strategies.

In the chapters on communication and audience we come back to how to deal with other trust related issues, such as defining whom we consider to be close to, or less familiar, with us and our work, (going forward we will use the terms insiders and outsiders.) when we develop our communication strategies and how to win our audience’s trust and loyalty.

Personal relationships & professional friends

Questions around artistic fingerprint, as formulated in our chapter on Identity, show that the personal and the professional are highly intertwined in our field.  This is unavoidable and there is not necessarily anything wrong with this, but as professionals, we have to recognise that it has the potential to complicate our working processes.  Therefore, when exploring strategies as to how to communicate dance we should take this specific characteristic of our field into account. Honesty about the influence of the personal proximity or distance is crucial when wanting to communicate and collaborate with people and create work and relationships based on trust.