Tuire Colliander: Writing for and with Children in Artistic Research

My presentation introduces drawing as a practice of writing for and with children in artistic research. I will share my experiences gained during the fieldwork in a Helsinki City Kindergarten, where I discovered the potential of drawing as a supportive and essential tool for building common understanding and enhancing the distribution of creative agency. I will start with the example of translating the information sheet for participants into a drawn booklet for the children and the further transformations into embodied experiences by dancing the contents of the booklet with the children.

In my research I am investigating early years dance pedagogy and focusing on questions of ethical and inclusive means of encounter through dance. My approach is dialogical, and I am working with children as my co-researchers, aiming at deconstructing the adult-child dichotomy and re-distributing the authority of knowledge. I propose that using drawing as a creative means of writing, the communication between an adult and a child as well as among children may become more reciprocal, playful and thus supportive for an intra-active artistic co-operation. By applying drawing as a method, it is also possible to choreograph the pedagogical settings in such a manner, that the artistic process becomes more inclusive for participants with diverse linguistic skills and backgrounds.

I will also share a practice for co-creating a choreography through a storyboard method, where the ideas for the choreography are first translated into a series of drawings and used as a score for the dance. Storyboard was an initiative by the children participating in my fieldwork and it became a tool for co-constructing, learning and performing a choreography through a reciprocal and playful process. We will make an exploration into the process of the storyboard together with the conference participants in the last part of my presentation.


Tuire Colliander is a dancer, dance pedagogue and PhD student in Tutke, Uniarts Helsinki. Her dance pedagogic background is in the context of basic dance education in Finland. She also works as a freelance dance artist and is a member of contemporary dance company Xaris Finland. In her doctoral thesis she is investigating early years dance pedagogy and focusing on questions of ethical and respectful means of encounter through dance.