Dancing with a Virus: Finding new Rhythms of Organizing and Caring in Dutch Hospitals

Iris Wallenburg*, Bert de Graaff, Jenske Bal, Martijn Felder, Roland Bal

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter/Conference proceedingChapterAcademic

3 Citations (Scopus)
98 Downloads (Pure)


This paper uses the metaphor of the dance to envision how hospitals in the Netherlands engaged in organizing and delivering care during the first months of the COVID-19 outbreak. Drawing on an ongoing ethnographic study in a Dutch university study and interviews with nurses in various hospitals, we show how hospital actors (nurses, physicians, managers, directors, patients) engaged in different dances following the changing rhythms of the virus outbreak and related policy measures, as well as mutual interactions driven by ‘old’ and ‘new’ private and collective interests. We discern three dance patterns in the unfolding crisis—learning to dance; the dance marathon; dancing to a cacophony—each requiring a new choreography of organizing and caring, rearranging personnel, spaces, and materials to adapt to (the consequences of) the virus outbreak. We argue that dance is a powerful metaphor to provide an affective narrative of how hospitals operate at different levels and in various ways to accommodate a new group of patients while flexibly finding alternative ways of organizing and caring in a highly political and uncertain context.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOrganising care in times of Covid-19
Subtitle of host publicationImplications for Leadership, Governance and Policy
EditorsJustin Waring, Jean-Louis Denis, Anne Reff Pedersen, Tim Tenbensel
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-82696-3
Publication statusPublished - 9 Nov 2021

Bibliographical note

© The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2021

Research programs

  • EMC NIHES-05-63-01 Management


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