Dance and wellbeing in Vancouver’s ‘A Healthy City for All'

Charlotte Veal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)
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Through the lens of the dancing body, this paper examines practices of health and wellbeing produced in response to City of Vancouver urban governance policies. In particular, it calls attention to the legislative onslaught by city government in the years abutting the 2010 Winter Olympics to cultivate and manage healthy people, communities, and environments. In an effort to sell Vancouver’s ‘liveability’, I argue City of Vancouver endorsed a new legislative alliance that merged a conspicuously Anglo-American wellbeing lexicon, favouring individual responsibility and self-governance, with the performing arts industries. Drawing upon interviews and performance-based research, the paper illustrates how Karen Jamieson’s community dance project Connect, created for the In the Heart of the City festival, embodies Vancouver’s tri-level legislative ambitions to nurture A Healthy City For All. This materialised through the crafting of a dance-health body practice (healthy people), by choreographing a sense of belonging among ‘at risk’ communities (healthy communities), and in the uniting of the arts and health professions in the process of ‘cleaning up’ disenfranchised neighbourhoods (healthy environments). In bringing together scholarship on cultures of wellbeing and creative dance practice, the article contributes to understandings of how the health-seeking subject is embodied and performed. It also offers a productive critique of the exclusionary nature of urban health legislation, and of the contested role artists and arts festivals can play in nurturing urban wellbeing and normalising inequalities.

Publisher Statement: NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Geoforum. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Geoforum, [81, (2017)] DOI: 10.1016/j.geoforum.2017.01.016

© 2017, Elsevier. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-21
Number of pages11
Early online date16 Feb 2017
Publication statusPublished - May 2017


  • Creative city
  • Dance
  • Health
  • Governance
  • Vancouver
  • Wellbeing


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