Professor Nicholas Gordon Rowe



Professor Nicholas Rowe is a graduate of the Australian Ballet School and holds a PhD from the London Contemporary Dance School, University of Kent at Canterbury.  He has choreographed and performed with The Finnish National Ballet, Australian Ballet, Sydney Dance Company, Royal New Zealand Ballet, Nomad Dance Theatre, Modern Dance Turkey and Ramallah Dance Theatre. From 2000-2008 Nicholas resided in the Occupied Palestinian Territories working in refugee camps on dance projects with local artists, and he continues to maintain an active practice as a community dance animateur in diverse regions of the world (see:  Nicholas gives regular public talks on the relationship between dance, communities and political contexts, with a particular focus on cultural hegemony and appropriation (hear:

Nicholas is an award-winning filmmaker and his film work includes writing/directing the feature-length films The Secret World and Dancing7Cities. He has published extensively on dance, creativity, collaboration and education in diverse cultural contexts, within leading international academic journals. His books include Talking Dance: Contemporary Histories from the South China Sea (2015) Talking Dance: Contemporary Histories from the Southern Mediterranean (2014), Moving Oceans: Celebrating Dance in the South Pacific (2013), Raising dust: a cultural history of dance in Palestine (2010), and the performing arts workshop manual Art, during siege (2004).  

With Associate Professor Ralph Buck, Nicholas has been appointed as the UNESCO Chair in Dance and Social Inclusion.

Research | Current

  • Dance in communities and education
  • Dance and politics, leadership and inclusion
  • Dance research and tertiary education
  • Dance and digital technology



Critical Studies in Dance Leadership and Inclusion

Dancers, choreographers, dance teachers and dance organizations are increasingly engaged in advancing social inclusion agendas within diverse parts of the world. In alignment with global and regional policies, these arts programmes respond to governance challenges associated with health, education, security, the environment and the economy. This raises critical questions regarding how and why dance practitioners should engage with socio-political endeavours. To explore these, Associate Professor Nicholas Rowe, Professor Kai Lehikonen at the University of the Arts Helsinki and Associate Professor Tuomoceiran Heyang at the University of Chengdu are series editors of the new book series Critical Studies in Dance Leadership and Inclusion, published by Palgrave Macmillan in English and Mandarin.

This open book series brings a critical lens to this growing field of artistic endeavour, with each volume examining how a particular dance organization or dance leadership practice has fostered inclusion and contributed to community resilience. Gathering dance programmes from diverse parts of the world, the series provides illustrations of distinct creative, pedagogic and organizational practices that foster inclusion, and situates these practices within contemporary theories of the arts, culture, education, leadership and sociology. 

Supported by the University of Auckland Faculty Research Development Fund, the university of Chengdu and ArtsEqual, Academy of Finland.



Nicholas’s most recent feature-length documentary film Dancing7Cities journeys through seven cities to explore how very diverse dancers respond to their urban landscapes. Filmed in Laos, Fiji, Lebanon, Italy, Palestine, Finland and Australia, this dance documentary weaves performances from marginalized community groups, to question how dancing together can foster a sense of belonging. This film features performers from Court di Miracoli, Siena, Lao Bang Fai, Vientiane, The Grey Panthers, Darwin, VOU, Suva, University of the Arts, Helsinki, Markez al Arabieh Filistiniyah, Beirut, and El-Funoun Popular Dance Troupe/Bara’em, Ramallah.

Supported by an Early Career Research Excellence Award, University of Auckland, Dancing7Cities was awarded Best Documentary Feature at the Rethink Dance Film Festival (USA).


Facilitating Collaboration

As a cross-disciplinary research project with the Faculty of Engineering, Associate Professor Nicholas Rowe has led a research team investigating the facilitation of collaborative learning (in the form of small group assessment tasks). While industry has identified collaboration as a key graduate attribute, teaching collaboration can be challenging for teachers used to teaching discipline content and skills. This research project has developed and trialled transferable pedagogical frameworks that enable peer-to-peer collaboration, focusing on the development of collaborative dexterity as a learning outcome, not simply a learning tool.

Supported by a Learning Enhancement Grant from the University of Auckland.


UNESCO Chair in Dance and Social Inclusion

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

As of 29 October 2020 there will be no automatic updating of 'selected publications and creative works' from Research Outputs. Please continue to keep your Research Outputs profile up to date.
  • Rowe, N. (2020). The great neoliberal hijack of collaboration: a critical history of group-based learning in tertiary education. Higher Education Research & Development, online first10.1080/07294360.2019.1693518
  • Rowe, N. (2019). Arts and the politics of marginalization. Paper presented at From Settler Colonialism to the Palestinisation of the World, Université Paris 3, Paris, France.
  • Rowe, N. G. (2019). Dance, Difference and Displacement.,-difference-and-displacement. Related URL.
  • Rowe, N. G. (2019). The Great Neoliberal Hijack of Collaboration and What Arts Educators Can Do About It. University of the Arts, Helsinki. Related URL.
  • Rowe, N. (2019). Like sport, competition is a blight on dance. Related URL.
  • Rowe, N. G. (2019). Dance of Radical Transgressions. Paper presented at Ausdance Australian National Dance Forum, Darwin, Australia. 9 August - 10 August 2019. Related URL.
  • Rowe, N. G. (11/5/2019). Dancing7Cities [Documentary Feature Film], World Premier: Contact Dance Film Festival, Portland, USA. Related URL.
  • Rowe, N. (2019). Retaliation? A question we should not ask. Related URL.

Contact details

Primary office location

BUILDING 113 - Bldg 113
Level 1, Room 120
New Zealand