Iselin Brogeland

Dancing Through Grief: developing an auto-ethnographically informed performance practice through dance improvisation

University of Stavanger, Faculty of Performing Arts, Department of Jazz, Dance, PPU and Music Production

Photo: Peter Monstad

Photo: Arnaud Beelen

This title and my wonders towards this project have really grown out of personal experiences and the wish to connect these to a wider social, cultural and political meanings and understandings, through dance.

Dancing Through Grief refers to a practice-led research project, in the field of dance/performing arts, that invites the performer and the audience to expand emotional awareness of grief by creating and part-taking in art.


My aim for this research is twofold and the two aims complement each other: Firstly, based on the knowledge in what I call my ‘body archive’, I aim to create an improvisational dance practice that can allow the audience to enter life experiences of loss and grief.

Secondly, and corresponding to this, I aim to develop knowledge about shared affects in dance performance as a psychosocial practice space, through artistic exploration.


To operationalise these aims, I will rely on the following research questions:

1) How can I creatively articulate and draw on my own body archive of grief to develop an improvisational dance practice which can facilitate shared experiences around an emotionally demanding topic?
[this RQ points to auto-ethnographically informed practice-based research that can enable shared experiences of grief, corresponding with Aim1]


2) How can my improvisational dance practice with grief contribute to a wider understanding of artistic practice as a psychosocial space for (exploring) shared affects?
[this RQ points to how the whole project can expand understanding of artistic practice as a psychosocial space, thereby giving a knowledge contribution to artistic research, corresponding with Aim2]


I hope my project can have a wider societal relevance: that it would expand knowledges and practices in the culture of grief and strengthen the social, cultural, and political awareness of emotions related to grief, and its 'fluxual' affects as a psychosocial phenomenon.



Iselin Brogeland is a dancer, performer, maker, and facilitator currently living in Stavanger, Norway.

In April 2023 Iselin became a Ph.D. fellow in dance at the Faculty of Performing Arts, University of Stavanger (NO).

She holds a BA in Dance from the University of Chester (UK) and a Master’s in Performance from the University of Chichester (UK), where she was awarded the Valerie Briginshaw Award for "Dance Writing and Academic Excellence".

Iselin has been dancing for Flexer & Sandiland and has previously toured nationally and internationally with works by Hagit Yakira Dance, Molitrix Scenekunst, Dybwikdans, Sticky Trace Company, Company Carpi, Jonathan Burrows, Rick Nodine, Ofra Idel and Lila Dance.
Iselin is also a co-founder of two companies in the United Kingdom; Ori Dance and Fluxus Collective.

Her own choreographic works have been shown in England, Spain, Belgium, Norway, and the United States. Iselin has assisted David Zambrano at various festivals and workshops around the world such as Vienna International Dance Festival, CODA Norway, Henny Jurrïens summer intensive and DAR Festival Russia.



Artistic Research Spring Forum 2024

1st presentation


Grief dances: The price we pay for love.

Her body fits perfectly inside of the door frame.

She is about to leave to eat pizza with her friends when her father enters the room.

His eyes have watered already.

She has never seen him cry before.

Somehow, she knew what was coming but had no clue at all.



Grief is not a stable object of inquiry. Grief can be viewed as a journey, moving from one dance to another. In my artistic research project Dancing Through Grief, I invite myself as a performer and the audience to expand emotional awareness of grief by creating and part-taking in art. I am interested in exploring how affect may be set in motion and circulate through a dancing body in a psychosocial space, where the artistry includes a bodily approach that can embrace both the performer and the audience’s life experiences of grieving/losing a loved one.


For my first presentation at the Artistic Research Spring Forum I will give an insight, both physically and verbally, to the artistic ideas of the project and the processes planned, some of which has already danced a journey.

I will focus specifically on two residency periods in Mozambique which guided me to experiential learning through the lens of my artistic practice as a dancer and choreographer.
I want to share how and why the experiential learning/un-learning/not learning was related to an affect from my dancing body in a psychosocial space. I reflect on which processes and methods gave more accessibility to the ‘experiential-ness’ that is still present and unfolding.