Scholarly Presentations

Provides dance researchers a forum to share their scholarly research though presentation opportunities. Scholarly Presentations are grouped together by the Conference Committee with other paper presentations of complimentary subject matter. Scholarly presentations should run no more than 30 minutes each. Each grouping of presenters will be followed by a short period for questions and dialogue at the end of each group session.

Moderator assignments, guidelines, and responsibilities can be found here.

Melanie Van Allen - Headshot“The Jit: An Economy of Gesture”
Mon 7/27 @ 3:30 pm – Webster 103

Melanie Anastacia Van Allen, Doctoral Candidate
Texas Woman’s University, USA

This presentation examines how throughout the contemporaneous history of Detroit, Michigan, much of the notable cultural products originating from the city were greatly influenced by the drastic change in speed and manufacturing methods within the automobile industry. This technological evolution has shaped many of the city’s cultural outputs, such as the techno music movement and its resident dance form, the Jit. The influence is perceptible as the first techno records utilized sounds of the animated and then later deteriorating assembly line, which shaped techno’s philosophy and aesthetic. The creators of techno produced music based on sounds that personified Detroit’s industrial environment, and the assembly line. With the decline of Fordism, machines and robotic technology eventually replaced the majority of human labor on the assembly line. It was this robotized assembly line, which prompted the techno movement of Euro-synthesized, ethereal, dystopic, Afro-futuristic sounds that referenced the rhythmic, trance-inducing conveyor belt’s output. Stemming from this, a symbiotic dance between the assembly line’s productivity and Detroit’s working class demographic manifested itself through a Detroit-specific solo dance form called the Jit, which was traditionally only performed to techno music records. The movement vocabulary of the Jit encapsulates the aesthetics of assembly line technology and the human need to transcend the efficiency, magnitude and precision of the machine. This presentation seeks to investigate the relationship between the assembly line and the Jit, elucidating the kinetic implications that time, space and technology impose upon the laboring body.

Melanie Anastacia Van Allen is a New York City based choreographer, dancer, educator and scholar of dance. She is currently a doctoral student in the Dance Studies Ph.D. program at Texas Woman’s University. Melanie holds a Masters of Arts in Performance Studies New York University-Tisch School of the Arts, a Masters of Fine Arts in Dance Choreography/Performance from the University of Michigan, where she was awarded the Julian and Vera McIntosh Memorial Fellowship Award and a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Dance Choreography/Performance from Ohio State University. Melanie’s choreography has been performed internationally and her scholarly endeavors encompass her passion for dance and choreography by investigating the intersections between the practical and theoretical. Currently, her academic interests include: electronic music and dance culture of Detroit, Fordism, theoretical choreographic research, dance ethnography, cultural studies, Indigenous studies, Dances from Bolivia, and interdisciplinary methodologies of research and performance.

“Splinters In Our Ankles: Collective Cultural Amnesia and Performed Resistance in the Tinikling, The Philippine National Dance”
Wed 7/29 @ 3:30 pm – Webster 103

Gerald Casel, Assistant Professor
University of California, Santa Cruz, USA

One of the most beloved of traditional Philippine folk dances, the Tinikling, is a dynamic portrayal of rice farmers attempting to catch their crops’ worst enemy, the tikling (a pesky bird). To perform the dance, two or more people beat bamboo poles upon the ground and against each other’s poles to create rhythmic patterns while the performers must step over, through, and around the moving poles in a lively dance. The movements imitate the agility and speed of the tikling birds evading their captors. Legends say that the Tinikling originated during Spanish occupation. It is related to a brutal historical fact: natives working the colonial fields who did not perform well were made to stand between two bamboo poles as punishment.  Surprisingly, when performed, the usual idyllic backdrop associated with the Tinikling omits this history – and the violence, both physical and emotional, that the dance potentially conveys. This collective cultural amnesia is the central theme of Gerald Casel’s Splinters in our Ankles (premiering in 2015), a choreographic response that disrupts conventions for accepting this dance as ‘traditionally Filipino’. Essentially, the Tinikling is a folk dance created during an oppressed time whose intent, over time, has vanished. By looking more closely, the dance can be viewed as a mechanism of transformation – a way an oppressed people used traditional arts to perform resistance. This paper challenges the underlying themes associated with this beloved dance while exposing an alternative and more comprehensive cultural lens through which Filipino history and identity can be reconsidered.

Gerald Casel is Artistic Director of GERALDCASELDANCE, a contemporary dance company based in the Bay Area, and is Assistant Professor of Dance at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Born in the Philippines and raised in California, he holds a BFA from The Juilliard School and an MFA from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He received a New York Dance and Performance Award ‘Bessie’ for his work in the companies of Michael Clark, Stanley Love, Zvi Gotheiner, Lar Lubovitch, and Stephen Petronio. His research interests include somatics, improvisation, and random number generators to create movement that is devoid of habit.

Szu-Ching Chang - Headshot“Pirouette Across the Ocean: Dance Film The Red Shoes in the Post-War Taiwan”
Thur 7/30 @ 11:00 am – Kuykendall 210

Szu-Ching Chang, Assistant Professor
National Taiwan University of Sport, Taiwan

The film The Red Shoes, directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, was released in 1948 in the United Kingdom. It is a well-known ballet film for over the past fifty years in the U.K. and America, as well as in Taiwan and other Asian countries. Keeping its focus on the symbol of “red shoes,” this film transformed its original story from the dangerous desire of a girl into the great passion of a professional dancer. This paper investigates how this film represents the connection between arts and death as well as several sets of binaries between men and women. Further, I will analyze the female images of ballerinas which are created, formulated, and reproduced in The Red Shoes and connect them to references to the real ballet world at that time. Another focus of the paper includes possibilities for how Taiwanese audiences might be influenced by the film, as some seasoned danced professionals from Taiwan are also mentioned. Discussions will include how this film may have inspired some dancers to devote themselves to a dance career, when the dancer’s career was still conceived as having a lower reputation in Taiwan in the 1950s, and how this film may have had an impact on the made-in-Taiwan pointed shoes. By bridging the two geographical places, the U.K. and Taiwan, I propose a critical investigation on the influence of the cross-cultural translation and the local interpretation of The Red Shoes.

Szu-Ching Chang is an assistant professor in dance at National Taiwan University of Sport in Taiwan. She holds her Ph.D. in Critical Dance Studies from the University of California, Riverside, and received her M.A in Performance Studies from Taiwan University of Arts. Her Ph.D. dissertation focuses on how reflective nostalgia may motivate the choreographers of contemporary “traditional” dances in Taiwan. Her research interests are the interrelationships between dance and nostalgia, cultural memory, gender, and globalization. She has presented her research at the international conferences of the World Dance Alliance, the Society of Dance History Scholars, the Congress on Research in Dance, and International CORPUS Symposium.

“The Sanctification of Places: Spatiality in Ritual and Dance of Taketomi Island, Okinawa”
Tues 7/28 @ 3:30 pm – Kuykendall 210

Dr. Chi-Fang Chao
Taipei National University of the Arts, Taiwan

This paper explores the spatiality of ritual and dance performed in the Taketomi Island of southern Okinawa. The data is based on the material collected from long-term fieldwork and dance ethnographic methodologies. The analysis of spatiality involves three main dimensions: First, to present the physical composition of dance in terms of its formal characteristic in order to define what can be visually recognized as “Taketomian dance.” Second, to connect the formal principles of this dancing with spatiality in Taketomian cultural symbolism, especially in relation to ritual practices. Thirdly, to illustrate the relationship between physical and cultural spatiality as performed in the dancing, no matter how traditionally the dance is portrayed, as a creative practice in space. This creative practice carries not only cultural representation but also individual interpretation. The analyses leads to my essential interests, specifically “how dancing bodies narrate in space.”

Dr. Chi-Fang Chao is a Taiwanese dance ethnographer. She currently teaches at the Department of Dance, Taipei National University of the Arts. She has been trained in anthropology and dance studies. Her research interests cover anthropology of dance, dance ethnography, Okinawan study, Taiwanese indigenous people’s dance theatre, and other related studies. Recently she also expanded her practice beyond her career as scholar and served as producer (Puing: Searching the Atayal Route, 2013) and curator (the 1st and 2nd Global Indigenous Peoples’ Festival of Dance and Music in Taiwan).

Lucinda Coleman - Headshot“Audience Matters in Meeting Places”
Tues 7/28 @ 11:00 am – Kuykendall 301

Lucinda Coleman, Remnant Dance Maker
Edith Cowan University, Australia

This paper considers artivist (combining art with activism) sensibilities through practice-led research conducted within the Australian performing arts collective Remnant Dance, 2013-15. Remnant Dance’s existing partnership with a charity organisation led to an invitation for artists to creatively respond to the stories of an impoverished community of youth living in Myanmar (Burma). The making of a dance film with this community evolved in tandem with creating contemporary dance works and visual art pieces, responsive to people and place. Audiences were enveloped in the multi-arts performance and installation experience entitled Meeting Places, as it adapted to site-specific locations throughout Myanmar and Australia. The creation of Meeting Places through cross-cultural, multi-arts forms and through interdisciplinary (social justice) contexts invited audience engagement with artistic work responsive to the Burmese narrative retold to new audiences. Each performative experience challenged individuals to connect with dance making as a site for engagement with social concerns in diverse spaces and places. Dance/film installations on the streets of different cities invited audiences into moving spaces, encouraging participation through movement, as facilitated by live performers. The projection of the dance film as part of the exhibition of visual art pieces, and performances of contemporary dance in theatre and gallery spaces, beckoned individuals to transcend cultural boundaries and move to encounter the perspectives of others, as embodied in dance. The artistic work invited audiences to encounter, in a participatory manner, fresh perspective on interconnection through creative practice and to experience viscerally the power of artistic practice to invite social and cultural change.

Lucinda Coleman is a Ph.D. (Performing Arts) candidate at Edith Cowan University, Western Australia and the Dance Maker for the Australian performing arts collective Remnant Dance ( She holds a Master in Creative Industries, has presented at conferences in the UK and Europe, and is published in the journal Research in Dance Education. Coleman founded Remnant Dance (2010) in response to her experiences as a dancer and educator within Australia. She danced with the Australian Youth Ballet Company and Harvest Rain Theatre Co. before working as an independent contemporary dancer and choreographer. Coleman’s creative works have included short and full length contemporary dance theatre pieces, performed in the dance industry, educational institutes, and community contexts. She has created dance films, installed site-specific theatre pieces throughout Asia and Australia, and enjoyed collaborating across multiple disciplines. Coleman’s most recent creative works have been performed throughout Australia and in Scotland, Vietnam, China, and Myanmar.

Sarala Dandekar - Headshot“Opening the Temple Gates”
Wed 7/29 @ 3:30 pm – Webster 104

Sarala Dandekar, Artistic Director
Darshan Dance Project, USA

This research examines the contemporary trend towards re-framing and re-staging Odissi dance, a classical temple ritual of India. Looking at the works of various international Odissi dance companies, including Nrityagram, Smitalay, and Darshan Dance Project, the paper investigates differing choreographic attempts to bridge cultural temporality, space, and place. Restaging and re-choreographing traditional sacred dance is a balancing act traversing on a perilous path towards individualistic artistic sovereignty, aesthetic pleasure, and respect for tradition. The stage is a portal through which the audience can experience a multiplicity of times, spaces, and places simultaneously and seamlessly. There is, however, vulnerability in departing from the finely designated rules of classical presentation and the protection of tradition. Classicists believe that Odissi should be preserved like a museum piece, but Odissi is also a living, breathing language with current choreographers  making use of it as their own. Using existing research on performing ritual and interviews with the artists, this paper explores the choreographic act of opening the temple gates and the various tensions and pitfalls accompanying the quest towards a more inclusive experience of Odissi.

Sarala Dandekar is an Odissi dance teacher and Artistic Director of Darshan Dance Project.  She has choreographed and performed throughout the world as a soloist since 1994. In 1998, Sarala received her Master’s Degree in Dance at York University, Toronto.  Her publications have appeared in print and on line in a wide variety of dance and arts journals.  Sarala’s choreography is influenced by her lifelong experience of cultural duality.  She currently resides with her beautiful children and devoted husband in Maui, Hawaii.

Ciane Fernandes - Headshot“Durational Placing: Body Environment Merger as Somatic-Performative Research”
Mon 7/27 @ 3:30 pm – Webster 104

Ciane Fernandes, Ph.D., C.M.A.
Federal University of Bahia, Brazil

This presentation focuses on specific aspects of the approach termed “Somatic-Performative Research” (SPR). This approach has developed since 2010 as part of an ongoing research project with the A-FETO Dance Theater Collective, mostly at Lençóis, Chapada Diamantina National Park, Bahia, Brazil. During a four-year period of exploration, durational performances with somatic emphasis at natural environmental settings were the means of articulating and organizing more than ten years of Artistic Practice as Research at the Graduate Program of Performing Arts at Federal University of Bahia, Brazil. The presenter’s graduate activities associated education, research, creative process, and dance performance in open spaces. During these connected activities, different influences of the presenter’s background (such as dance improvisation, dance theater, performance, Laban/Bartenieff Movement Analysis, and Authentic Movement) gradually composed an inter-artistic process of research merger with/in the environment. This process gave birth to twenty dynamic principles. This presentation emphasizes the principle of Somatic Attunement and the concept of Body Environment Merger, among others. From the starting point of inter-artistic moving principles with/in the environment, SPR shifts the object of study into one that is creative, live, and relational. In an unpredictable and expanded spacetime dynamics, dance becomes a spread out medium of studies, rather than something to be studied. Research procedures and phases are neither interpreted as performance, nor explored as performance, but are rather made possible in environmental performance in consonance with body rhythms. The Art of Movement is the core of the research phases or procedures, integrated through Body Environment Merger with/in dynamic space.

Ciane Fernandes holds an M.A. and a Ph.D. in art and humanities for performing artists from New York University, a post-doctoral degree in Contemporary Culture and Communications from Federal University of Bahia (UFBA), and a Certificate of Movement Analysis from the Laban/Bartenieff Institute of Movement Studies, where she is an associate researcher. Since 1998, she is a tenured professor at the School of Theater and at the Performing Arts Graduate Program at UFBA, founder and director of the A-FETO Dance Theater Collective, in association with the Performance Laboratory, where she developed Somatic-Performative Research. She is the author of Pina Bausch and the Wuppertal Dance Theater: the Aesthetics of Repetition and Transformation, The Moving Researcher: Laban/Bartenieff Movement Analysis in Performing Arts Education, and Creative Arts Therapy. She is editor of eight academic journals on Dance Theater and Somatic Education (UFBA). She has lectured, performed and published internationally.

“The Terpsitone: A Lens on the Impact of an Electro-magnetic Space on Creating Dance and Music Simultaneously”
Mon 7/27 @ 1:30 pm – Webster 104

Lisa A. Fusillo, Professor
University of Georgia, USA

Approaching the concept of alternative lenses with regard to spaces and places for and with dance, this paper will present a discussion of the historical and current applications of the terpsitone invented by Leon Theremin in 1936 and will examine how dance and music composition are affected by an environment of directed electro-magnetic waves.  Widely recognized as the inventor of the theremin, the first electronic musical instrument, Leon Theremin made contributions to music and dance that were tightly woven into his life of scientific invention, espionage, international notoriety, and extraordinary genius. A Russian physicist researching electricity during the early 1900s, Theremin landed in New York in 1928 and spent ten years developing many electronic inventions including the terpsitone.  Through his “terpsitone” or “ether wave dance stage,” Leon Theremin pursued his dream of bringing together electronic music and dance. Using the principles he developed in his original instrument, the theremin, dancers on the terpsitone stage created musical sound scores by their physical movements. Directionality of movements determined not only pitch but also volume made by the electro-magnet waves. Theremin’s inventions are the basis for nearly all electronically produced performance art in the 20th and 21st centuries. With attention to all these factors, this paper will present an overview of Leon Theremin’s extraordinary life of creative invention, focusing on the dance exploration in electronic pathways. The methodology for this research is based on scholarly and applied research, including a project currently underway to recreate a terpsitone using contemporary technology for further choreographic exploration.

Lisa Fusillo began her professional ballet training at the Washington School of Ballet in Washington, D.C. and later trained in New York, London, Russia and Denmark. She holds the Professional Teaching Diploma from the Royal Ballet School in London and certifications from American Ballet Theatre National Training Curriculum and the New York City Ballet Education Department. Her choreography has been presented in Austria, Belgium, Germany, Amsterdam, Paris, Thailand, Taiwan, and at the International Ballet Competition in Jackson, Mississippi. WDA affiliation began when she was teaching at the National Institute of the Arts in Taiwan. Fusillo is a Fulbright Scholar and has published articles in dance history. Currently, she is Professor and head of the Department of Dance at the University of Georgia.

Ilana Goldman - Headshot“Bonding and Bridging through Place: An Investigation of Trey McIntyre Project’s Use of Alternative Spaces and Common Place in its Engagement with Communities”
Tues 7/28 @ 11:00 am – Kuykendall 301

Ilana Goldman, Assistant Professor
Florida State University, USA

As dance artists struggle to find ways to remain relevant in today’s society, some are building new audiences and connecting to communities by bringing dance to places that people already inhabit, instead of expecting them to come to the artists. The contemporary ballet company Trey McIntyre Project has used alternative spaces including coffee shops, sidewalks, hospitals, plazas, hotel rooms, and online to engage with communities. The company’s spUrbans, spontaneous urban performances, have been a way for the company dancers to perform for community members outside of the proscenium theatre. In this paper I will demonstrate that Trey McIntyre Project’s engagement activities occurring in community spaces led to an increase in social capital—fostering bridging and bonding among community members and the company.  This paper presents material from the author’s personal experiences engaging with communities as a member of Trey McIntyre Project. The observations were collected over a two-year period and include interviews with Trey McIntyre and other individuals connected with the company.

Ilana Goldman is an Assistant Professor of dance at Florida State University and has taught and choreographed for schools and companies across the United States. She received her B.F.A. from the Juilliard School, where she was awarded the John Erskine Prize for Artistic and Academic Excellence, and her M.F.A. from the University of Washington. Ilana danced professionally as a principal dancer with Oakland Ballet and Sacramento Ballet, as a guest artist with Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet, and as a member of Trey McIntyre Project. She directed, choreographed, edited, and danced in an experimental dance film entitled Convergence, which screened in Boulder, Colorado; Steamboat Springs, Colorado; and Tallahassee, Florida. Ilana’s paper “Performance Matters in Community Dance” was published in the World Dance Alliance’s Journal of Emerging Dance Scholarship and presented at the Hawaii International Conference on Arts and Humanities in 2013.

“In a Faraway Land, Long, Long Ago: The Sleeping Beauty’s Villainess in Real and Virtual Spaces”
Tues 7/28 @ 3:30 pm – Kuykendall 301

Michelle Johnson,
York University, USA

The story of the “Sleeping Beauty” has been told in myriad forms, and its characters have likewise existed in many spaces. First inspired by oral and literary fairy tales, the listener or reader constructs an imaginary space in which the actions and plots are played out. The creation of the Tchaikovsky/Petipa ballet The Sleeping Beauty in 1890 provides the live, three-dimensional space of the stage, and the 1959 Disney animated film Sleeping Beauty transfers the characters to (or perhaps recreates them within) a two-dimensional, virtual space. Finally there exists the liminal space of the 2014 live-action film Maleficent, a two-dimensional presentation of a three-dimensional performance.  This research follows these changing spaces and mediums by focusing on the tale’s antagonist, known by turns as Carabosse, Maleficent, or simply a nameless disgruntled fairy. How is the character built through movement in these various incarnations? What changes emerge when she is portrayed in a different space, particularly in the shift from the traditional, three-dimensional stage to the virtual space of an animated cel? Utilizing dance-based movement analysis frameworks, I trace the lineage of how this villainess’s body is described in the fairy-tale source text, how she is realized and embodied on the ballet stage as Carabosse, and finally how she is reimagined as both the animated and live-action character Maleficent. Expanding the link between ballet and animation, I also consider the use of technology in each medium and explore movement conventions of ballet as a potential prehistory of personality animation and metamorphosis.

Michelle Johnson received a B.A. in Japanese Language and Literature from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 2009 and an M.A. in Dance (Culture and Performance Studies) at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa in 2013. She is currently a PhD student in Dance Studies at York University in Toronto, where her research interests include movement analysis in animation, fairy-tale narrative and archetypes in ballet, musical theatre, and dance education. Her most recent research explores animated transformations of Disney villains and the link between animation and ballet movement traditions.

Aadya Kaktikar - Headshot“Where Am I? A Classical Indian Dancer’s Journey into a Liberal Arts University”
Thur 7/30 @ 11:00 am – Kuykendall 301

Aadya Kaktikar
Shiv Nadar University, India

This paper critically reflects on the dance pedagogy emerging as a traditional dance form migrates from the drawing room of the Guru to the studios of one of the first liberal arts universities in India. This auto-ethnographic study therefore highlights the negotiations marking the relocation of my dance teaching; I step out of the position of the autonomous Guru and contend with an interdisciplinary approach to teaching in an academic environment. Further, this paper forms a part of a larger research project seeking to unearth the potential understandings and meanings of and for dance that the teacher and students construct out of the experience of dance as an academic discipline. My position as a dance teacher is philosophically lodged between conventional authoritative approaches to teaching codified movement techniques and a more contemporary, democratic, student centred approach to teaching and learning dance. This paper specifically examines the ways in which my teaching methodology, learning outcomes, curriculum design and assessment are (re)designed to teach Odissi as a movement vocabulary rather than a socio-religious discourse. In this study I closely examine the impact of how the ‘space’ of a liberal arts university shift my own personal understandings embedded in ‘tradition’. Believing in the efficacy of the personal to evoke the political, I examine my teaching practices within the university as I experience a simultaneous distillation and dilution of dance form. This (re)positioning of the dance form within the university shifts the relationship between what is taught and the teacher and further pushes the boundaries of legitimate knowledge in the ‘traditional’ dance class.

A performer and teacher, Aadya Kaktikar has more than two decades of performance and teaching experience in the Odissi Dance form.  Her book, Odissi Yaatra- The journey of Guru Mayadhar Raut, captures the culturally vibrant years of the 1940s, 50s, and 70s in the field of Odissi Dance. Illustrated with rare photographs, the book documents the people and processes involved in the classicisation of Odissi dance post India’s Independence. Assistant professor at the Shiv Nadar University and pursuing her Masters in Teaching Dance from the Royal Academy of Dance, London, Aadya is working towards assimilating modern education theories and traditional dance pedagogies.

Evadne Kelly - Headshot“Dancing Mana: Fijian Dance as a Political Site for Social Change”
Thur 7/30 @ 11:00 am – Kuykendall 307

Dr. Evadne Kelly

Western scholars have written extensively about the spiritual life-energy concept of mana, but rarely as it relates to the movements of the body. Recently, Fijians have been reclaiming an ancient indigenous notion of mana as a source of agency in ritual performance (Tomlinson, 2006). Due to the perspectives of early missionaries, mana has been considered a kind of supernatural substance (Tomlinson, 2006). This understanding of mana treats spiritual power and efficacy as a gift presented by God. It supports an approach whereby the body and its movements remain somewhat passive: spirit enters the body rather than is generated by it. However, as my own ethnographic and archival research on the traditional Fijian song-dance genre called meke in Western Canada and Viti Levu, Fiji, between 2011 and 2013 shows, dance creators and performers are now seeking to activate mana communicatively and expressively through movement (Kelly, 2014). Their work demonstrates a re-emerging belief that matter and vitality are not separate but ontologically interconnected. This notion is at the heart of recent cultural and political theory (Manning, 2007; and Bennett, 2010), whereby the corporeal is being investigated as a source of vitality that emerges through its relational encounters in the world. I bring this theorization of matter as lively and active into conversation with Fijian dancers’ reclaiming of mana to contribute to a deeper understanding of Fijian indigenous practices and to explore danced expressions of mana as political and as playing an active role in social relations.

Evadne Kelly is an independent artist-scholar with a PhD in Dance Studies from York University. Evadne has written, presented, and published on topics relevant to the fields of anthropology and dance studies with a particular focus on danced experience and expression. Her current research centers on the political and social dimensions of trans-locally performed Fijian dance traditions. Her research investigates danced expression as a source of social change and social response-ability (and indeed responsibility) and puts dance studies as a discipline into conversation with indigenous practices as well as with other fields interested in global migrations and relations. Evadne’s research builds on her 20 years of professional experience as a performer, teacher, and rehearsal director for celebrated neo-expressionist Canadian choreographer, David Earle.

Sarah Know - HeadshotFinding My Place: Re-imagining Pedagogical Strategies for Inclusivity in the Dance Technique Class”
Thur 7/30 @ 11:00 am – Kuykendall 301

Sarah Knox, Lecturer
University of Auckland, New Zealand

Typically, the dance technique class features traditional pedagogical methods (Green, 1999). Opportunities for student discussion, peer interaction, or critical self-reflection may be limited, and articulation of understanding may be purely through physical execution. From an educational context of a liberal arts environment, this research interrogates the question: “By employing multimodal tasks, how might new spaces of learning be opened to foster a sense of belonging and inclusivity for diverse students within the context of the dance technique class?” This research aims to reconceptualize the dance technique space by integrating experiential activities that allow students to explore and articulate their learning through multiple modes. Subsequently, it is proposed that this may affect the ways in which students find and assert their place as learners within the class community.  Alongside an auto-narrative methodology, pedagogical interventions were made within the class plans of an undergraduate dance vocabularies course. A discussion of specific learning activities is presented. Ideas such as peer-to-peer tactile cues, two and three dimensional drawing, verbal and written tasks, bullet points, post it notes, and attention flags are reformulated as learning activities to encourage new ways of processing information, applying feedback, articulating understanding, and provoking self-reflection. The researcher reflects on how certain tasks have allowed her to reimagine how movement sequences and prevalent physical challenges for students might be taught and explored.

Sarah Knox (MCPA) is a lecturer and Ph.D. student in the Dance Studies Programme at the University of Auckland. Sarah originally trained at the New Zealand School of Dance and has worked extensively as a professional contemporary dancer. Sarah has presented her research at the World Dance Alliance – Asia Pacific symposium in Taiwan, 2013 and the World Dance Alliance – Global Summit in France, 2014. Sarah was a co-curator of the Artists’ Voices chapter of the book Moving Oceans: Celebrating Dance in the South Pacific, edited by Associate Professors Ralph Buck and Nicholas Rowe. Her other research interests include choreographic practices, ethnography, pedagogy, dance technique, dance education, and community dance. At the University of Auckland Sarah teaches a range of practical and theoretical courses and is engaged in postgraduate research supervision. Sarah is the Secretariat for the 2015 Singapore WDA-Asia Pacific ‘Dance Bridges’ Symposium.

Zihao Li“Finding ‘Right’ Places/Spaces for 100 Million Dama Dancers”
Mon 7/27 @ 1:30 pm – Webster 112

Dr. Zihao Li
The University of Macau, China

Rowan Atkinson (Mr. Bean) danced in it. Clover Moore (Mayor of Sydney) called it “an active element in any society” and vowed to bring it back to Sydney. BBC news nicknamed the participants in it “dancing grannies.” The Economist Magazine refers to them as “grooving queens.” Guangchangwu (Chinese public square dance) is seen by French media as “an element of contemporary Chinese culture.” The participants, often referred to as “dama”, literally translated as big mothers, have entered the scene in millions and their numbers have continued to grow. Damas have several things in common; many are middle-aged and middle-class females. Almost all have little or no dance background. Different from Flash Mob, Guangchangwu takes place on a regular basis in nontraditional dance spaces and in many cases, in public places with or without others’ consent. They “occupy” spaces such as parks, squares, shopping malls, even parking lots in China. Guangchangwu is seen as “Chinese Character” and in recent years, it has made its appearance in Hong Kong, Paris, Moscow, and New York. Why is Guangchangwu gaining such popularity? How is public space being redefined as a result? What are the responses toward the damas’ “illegal” occupation of public places? With its large number of participants, has Guangchangwu risen to the status of being popular culture? Having looked through studies and reports, interviewed participants, spectators, and local residents, I have gained new insights on the Guangchangwu phenomenon and its embedded sociological challenges.

Dr. Zihao Li is a dancer, an educator, and a researcher. He has performed with numerous dance companies including the Guangdong Modern Dance Company, Hong Kong Dance Company, and German Hamburg Ballet. He has taught at different institutions and professional dance companies including Beijing Dance Academy, Tokyo Arts Center, York University, the University of Wisconsin – Madison, and Taipei National University of the Arts. He frequently leads workshops and master classes at schools, teacher training venues, as well as at local, national, and international conferences.  His research spans dance pedagogy; teacher/curriculum development; cross-cultural studies; gender and masculinity; to technology in dance. Currently, he serves on the Faculty of Education, the University of Macau.

BFA (Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts)
Bed & MA (York University, Canada)
PhD (Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, the University of Toronto)

Zihao Li“Mission Impossible? The Creation of a Dance Program at the University of Macau”
Tues 2/28 @ 3:30 pm – Kuykendall 307

Dr. Zihao Li
The University of Macau, China

With a population of just over half a million and a land area of approximately 31 square kilometers, Macau has gained a ranking as the top city in the world for economic performance by the Brookings Institution and JPMorgan Chase in 2015. In 2014, Macau received 31.5 million visitors for sightseeing, shopping, and gambling. In 2006, Macau’s casino revenues surpassed those of Las Vegas. Today, the casino industry in Macau generates five times more revenue than Las Vegas. With cash and ambition, the city is building a new university campus, a new light rail transportation (LRT) system, and the longest sea bridge in the world connecting itself with Hong Kong and Mainland China.  Dance, on the other hand, has fallen far behind when compared to the rapid development of the city’s infrastructure. In Macau, there is no government-sponsored Dance Company. The dance program at the postsecondary level has just recently started. Local dancers, choreographers, and dance events are scarce and the audience base is limited. In order to better understand how dance is viewed in Macau, a recent survey was conducted of 78 undergraduate students at the University of Macau as well as local artists, teachers, administrators, and policy makers. Through the findings, this paper shares unique insights about how to inaugurate a dance program in a university, where dance is non-existent. While speaking about the status of dance education in Macau, this paper can also generate discussions about strategies for establishing a dance program at post-secondary institutions.

Dr. Zihao Li is a dancer, an educator, and a researcher. He has performed with numerous dance companies including the Guangdong Modern Dance Company, Hong Kong Dance Company, and German Hamburg Ballet. He has taught at different institutions and professional dance companies including Beijing Dance Academy, Tokyo Arts Center, York University, the University of Wisconsin – Madison, and Taipei National University of the Arts. He frequently leads workshops and master classes at schools, teacher training venues, as well as at local, national, and international conferences.  His research spans dance pedagogy; teacher/curriculum development; cross-cultural studies; gender and masculinity; to technology in dance. Currently, he serves on the Faculty of Education, the University of Macau.

BFA (Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts)
Bed & MA (York University, Canada)
PhD (Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, the University of Toronto)

“Place and Home: An International Education in Dance”
Tues 7/28 @ 3:30 pm – Kuykendall 307

Dr. Rosemary Martin
The University of Auckland, New Zealand

This paper critically reflects on international education in dance, questioning: How might the experience of international education in dance affect notions of place and home? With a specific focus on the personal narratives of seven female contemporary dance practitioners from the southern Mediterranean region this multi-sited ethnographic study explores ideas surrounding ‘sense of place’ (Heidegger, 1973) in relation to the dance practitioners’ narratives. These women, from Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Malta, the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Lebanon and Syria, all trained in contemporary dance in Western cultural contexts and then returned home to teach, perform or create dance in various ways. The women’s motivations for training abroad raise complex notions of place and home. Some of the women’s narratives reveal that they were leaving a home environment where they felt somewhat alienated or excluded and this experience acted as a motivating factor for them to seek dance education abroad. Many of the dance practitioners explained how after training abroad they felt torn between the emotions of wanting to return to their home and wanting to remain engaged with the dance community and atmosphere that they had become accustomed to abroad. Some individuals’ narratives also revealed how moving between locations and cultures, along with experiences of alienation and cultural adaptation can shift one’s self-identity. This research provides an articulation and critical reflection of the attitudes and experiences of the seven female dance practitioners in relation to the themes of place and home, contributing to the knowledge and understandings of international education in dance, and dance within the southern Mediterranean region.

Dr. Rose Martin – PhD (UoA). Rose is a lecturer in Dance Studies at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. She trained at the New Zealand School of Dance and is a former dancer with the Royal New Zealand Ballet. Rose has taught dance at: Cairo Modern Dance Company, Egypt; Higher Institute of Dance, Syria; El-Funoun Palestinian Dance Troupe, Occupied Palestine; Jordanian National Dance Center, Jordan; Lebanese American University, Lebanon. Her published articles include: Journal of Dance Education; Research in Dance Education; Qualitative Inquiry. Rose is the author of Talking dance: Contemporary histories from the Southern Mediterranean (2014) with Associate Professor Nicholas Rowe and Associate Professor Ralph Buck, and Women, dance and revolution (forthcoming). Her research interests are dance pedagogy; dance in post-colonial contexts; dance and politics and cross-cultural dance education.

Tara Munjee - Headshot“Seeing This Space Differently: Developing New Spatial Understandings Through Planning Site-Specific Dance Performance”
Tues 7/28 @ 11:00 am – Kuykendall 210

Dr. Tara Munjee
Rutgers University, USA

An often-stated goal of site-specific dance performance is to offer new perspectives on place to audiences. But in advance of the performance, the planning stages for production may provide community members with enhanced understandings of the performance site through conversations with dance artists. The dance artistic lens opens up creative possibilities for viewing places and sites, and dialogue in this phase is mutually educational for dance artists and community members alike. This presentation provides a case study on how place perceptions were enlarged though site-specific dance performance planning. The presenter was commissioned to curate a site-specific dance event by a non-profit historical association in order to document her community’s evolution from frontier to farming to corporate municipality. Through collaborative research and communication with the historical association members, her knowledge of the site has deepened, but additionally, the historical association members’ views have broadened. For both the presenter and the historical association, understandings of the place of the proposed performance event have been enhanced, well before audience introduction to the site. In respect to increased social awareness and advocacy—a frequently-mentioned outcome of site-specific performances—changing understandings of place that result from community member and artist impressionistic and informational sharing create a dynamic understanding of site potential. This dynamic view then may fuel new enthusiasm and energy to transform the site into a performative place for dance performance.

Tara Munjee, a dance artist and scholar, is keenly interested in the intersections of dance practice and spatiality. More specifically, her interdisciplinary dissertation research and subsequent scholarly publications have explored different ways of appreciating, experiencing and categorizing spaces and places. She has authored articles in Journal of Dance Education, Research in Dance Education and Spaces and Flows: An International Journal of Urban and ExtraUrban Studies. She earned a PhD. in dance from Texas Woman’s University in Denton, Texas in 2013, and she completed her Certificate Movement Analyst study through the Laban Institute of Movement Studies in New York City in 2003.

“The Asia Pacific Performance Exchange: Dance as a Catalyst for Inter-cultural Connections”
Thur 7/30 @ 11:00 am – Kuykendall 210

Sara Murdock
University of California: Los Angeles, USA

This project covers theoretical underpinnings and practice of dance-based intercultural exchange, utilizing the Asia Pacific Performance Exchange  (APPEX) program,  which operated out of the Center for Intercultural Performance at University  of California: Los Angeles from 1996-2010. Archival research from UCLA library’s Special Collections has served as a  launching point for re-animating APPEX’s narrative, from vision to execution to enduring resonance.  Rather than provide a straightforward history, this project seeks to question how a project like APPEX can inform the international performing arts field through design, implementation, and intangible elements. The project gives specific attention to how the trans-colonial implications may inform equitable dance exchanges on an international scale. To move beyond journalistic chronicling and delve into theorganization, production, and leadership of intercultural programming that enables deep human interaction, this project asks challenging questions about the relationship between Euro-American based projects and hierarchies within a globalized world rife with Western aesthetic, linguistic, and economic dominance.  The project attends to the greater significance of dance exchange by considering the socio-politically constructed borders responsible for common notions of inter-culturalism that make necessary a deeper examination of  transcending socio-economic, biological, religious, gendered, and logistic elements that typically reify “otherness” and impede meaningful shared experience between cultures.

Sara Murdock is a third year Culture and Performance PhD student in the World Arts and Cultures/Dance Department at University of California: Los Angeles. She received an MA in Organizational Leadership from Seattle University (WA, USA) in 2010 and a BA in Dance and American Studies from Kenyon College (OH, USA) in 2005. Sara has facilitated movement workshops for professional dancers and community members in Ohio, Boston, Seattle, Los Angeles, Seoul, Hong Kong, Chiang Mai, and Kuala Lumpur. Her dance background includes competitive Latin and ballroom dance, Contact Improvisation, Blues dance, and extensive contemporary modern dance performance. She has also presented at conferences throughout the US and at University of Malaya (KL, MY). She is particularly interested in issues of accessibility, such as Western-based aesthetic hierarchies that reinforce cultural boundaries. Sara recently facilitated intercultural exchange through the World at Aratani Series and World Music & Movement Festival and is currently designing programming in partnership with Movement Exchange.

April Nakaima - Headshot“Cracking a Hard Nut:  Long Term Engagement of Older Adults in Physical Activity Using Dance”
Mon 7/27 @ 3:30 pm – Webster 104

April Nakaima
The Evaluation Centre for Complex Health Interventions, Canada

While research says that 50% of adults drop out of exercise programs by 6 months, and the health behavior change literature is rife with studies of physical activity programs that show positive short-term (typically up to 12 weeks) engagement but dismal long-term sustained physical activity behaviors, the dance program discussed in this paper retained the vast majority of participants from the first year into the second year. The dance activity program for older adults focused on health promotion, injury prevention, and mental health. The program was developed by the author and was based on research findings from various fields (in particular neuroscience), well-accepted theories in dance (e.g., Bartenieff Fundamentals, Laban Effort-Shape), and suppositions about the engaging attribute of artistic expression and aesthetic qualities.  The set of principles were tested and further refined using developmental evaluation and realist evaluation approaches in a 2-year project that trained 39 dance, nursing, kinesiology and education majors from York University in how to lead the dance classes with older adults in community settings. Most of the community groups were well and mobile, but a few groups were in long-term rehabilitation facilities. The project was funded by the Healthy Communities Fund from the former Ontario Ministry of Health Promotion and Sport and York University Department of Dance. The monitoring and evaluation results of the project showed participant attendance, mental health, and physical health benefits that far exceeded expected outcomes for similar physical activity programs.

April Nakaima straddles the worlds of dance and health. In recent years she’s focused on dance for health promotion, primarily working with older adults and with children with developmental delays; she co-led the course Dance for Special Populations at York University in Toronto, Canada. She currently works as a research coordinator at the Evaluation Centre for Complex Health Interventions in Toronto. She holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in Dance – Choreography from the University of California Irvine, Bachelor’s in Theatre Arts – Dance from the University of California Santa Cruz, and is a graduate of the Kamehameha Schools in Hawaii. She has performed with several modern dance companies in California; choreographed for the University of California Davis, Monterey Peninsula College, Salisbury State University Maryland, Northern Virginia Community College; was Dance Director at a San Diego district high school; and taught movement exploration for ages 5-7 in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Kiattipoom Nantanukul -  Headshot“’We Are Dancers. We’re All Dancing.’: Mediatized Bargirls’ Dances in India and Thailand”
Mon 7/27 @ 1:30 pm – Webster 103

Kiattipoom Nantanukul

Since the dances of bargirls in India and Thailand have been mediatized, they are available for viewing by people who once stayed outside the bar spaces, literally and ideologically. Although there have been many legal processes against the bar dancers in India and Thailand in order to ban their works, they are obviously visible in the center of every major city. These legal forces have inevitably pushed them into precarity within the space they inhabit in both countries. With Bollywood films, publications on the lives of bargirls, and online video clips, recording the dances of Thai Go-go bargirls and Net-idol (Thai internet idol), this study has challenged and broadened the conventional definitions of dance and its social functions. Bargirls’ non-choreographed movement is called “dance” within a non-canonical perception of the meaning of the word “dance,” and is problematic and disconcerting to canonical thought. Bargirls’ dances also raise inquiries into how dancers search for their identity in both countries. Their dances cause an uncomfortable negotiation between bar dancers and proper state citizenship. Furthermore, bargirls have been using dance to heighten the value of female bodies in the flesh trade business. In the bar, where male customers dominate as owners of the space, the commodified and fetishized female bodies have transformed this ownership into a new feminine space. In terms of spectatorship, like a ritualistic dance, bargirls’ dances have invited a specific group of spectators. This performative non-choreographed movement is used to emphasize the mystery of the human body.

Kiattipoom Nantanukul received his Master degree in Arts and Aesthetics from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India and Bachelor degree in Dramatic Arts (Honors Program), Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand. Academically, his major research is on comparative popular entertainment cultures and their functions in society, as well as the interweaving of multi-cultural performances. He is also a theatre practitioner, playwright, and university lecturer in dramatic theory and American musical theatre in Thailand. His study of Indian and Thai bargirls and prostitutes’ body politics along with their performativity, which aims to strengthen the foundation of Theatre, Performance, and Dance Studies discipline in Thailand, is a pioneering work among the academic community in his country.

“Dancing Between Old Worlds and New: Max Nordau’s New Jew Idea and its Manifestation in Pre-State Israeli Folk Dance”
Tues 7/28 @ 11:00 am – Kuykendall 210

Gdalit Neuman
York University / Canada’s National Ballet School, Canada

Muscular Judaism, a concept presented by Zionist leader Max Nordau at the Second Zionist Congress of 1898, had far reaching ramifications. One of these was the construction of a new human type: the blond haired, blue eyed, masculine and muscular indigenous/authentic Hebrew person termed Sabra. The Sabra, born in and to his homeland, would be superior to his diasporic ancestors in body and spirit. Through a combination of archival work, media analysis, and interviews, the present study traces the gendered New Muscular Jew ideology from turn of the century Central Europe to Eretz Israel through the dance realm. In so doing, it demonstrates dance’s importance as a medium through which Sabra youth were taught hegemonic characteristics of the ideal New Jew image. Finally, interviews with first generation Sabra dancers were conducted regarding their self image in order to analyze further the relationship between on and off stage performances of Sabra identity. As will be seen Place has distinctly marked the body in the invented tradition that is Israeli folk dance.

Gdalit Neuman, BFA (Hon), BEd, MA, NBS TTP (dip), is a proud alumnus of York University’s BFA and MA programs in dance. Additionally, she holds a BEd and is currently studying towards her PhD. Ms. Neuman’s research interests encompass the field of Israel/Jewish Dance Studies. She has been on faculty at Canada’s National Ballet School and York University. In addition to her research and teaching accomplishments, Ms. Neuman has performed and choreographed extensively in both Canada and Israel.

Elena Quah - Headshot“The ‘Third Space’ Dance Effects: Placial Aesthetics in Chinese Diasporas”
Tues 7/28 @ 3:30 pm – Kuykendall 210

Elena Quah, Doctoral Candidate
York University, Canada

Dance making in Chinese diasporas implicates distinct “placial aesthetics” developed in the “third space,” a cultural phenomenon that Homi Bhabha defines as in-between-ness” and “the cutting-edge” where translation and negotiation occur” (Bhabha, 2004:6). The interactive and enabling space located between two or more distinct cultures is instrumental in forging dances of individual Chinese-ness on both Eastern and Western diasporic soil. It is a fluid intersection of different historic-cultural roots, and of personal choices and routes for artistic negotiations and re-appropriations: a vibrant arena that cross-fertilizes cultural notions and dance activities through creative adoptions of the Others’ artistries. This auto-ethnographic presentation suggests that dances created beyond the Chinese motherland thrive in a third space with movement styles, music components, cultural props, and symbolisms specific to the social histories, cultural settings, and geopolitics of the lived diasporas, effectuating unique and differing placial identities of the same Chinese ancestry. Examining Yuri Ng’s choreographies engendered in the British colonial and post-colonial nuances of the East Asian diasporic region of Hong Kong, and my dance creations inspired by the North American diasporic-mosaic urbanity of Toronto, this discourse probes third-space attributions of local dance aesthetics infusing artistic and cultural materials of the original (Chinese) self and adopted (Euro-American) Othernesses. Under this light, the comparative case studies evince the third space as a potent realm of creating and dancing “in between” cultures, and the germinator of new forms and social meanings via embodied placial-artistic reinventions.

Elena Quah is a Ph.D. candidate in Dance Studies: Ethnography with York University, where she also acquired an M.A. degree in Dance, and a B.F.A. degree in Visual Arts. Working towards a concurrent Graduate Diploma in Asian Studies through the York Asian Research Centre, Quah’s Ph.D. dissertation focuses on comparative Chinese case studies in the Canadian and East Asian dance diasporas. Her research examines “creations” and “performances” in light of cultural influences, socio-political shifts, and changing Chinese identities. Geographies of the research encompass the cosmopolitan fields of Toronto-Vancouver and Hong Kong-Taiwan. Quah is a Toronto-based Chinese dancer-choreographer, and has worked as dance producer, coordinator and publicist in her dance productions and collaborations with dancers and musicians of diverse cultural backgrounds. Performed locally and abroad, Quah’s choreographic highlights include Apart yet Together: the Chinese-Indian-Korean Dance Experience, Behind Silk Ribbons & Rebozos, and Ending an Arabic Fable.

Paul Scolieri - Headshot“Re-Orienting Global Modernism: The Denishawn Tour of Asia, 1925-26”
Mon 7/27 @ 1:30 pm – Webster 103

Paul A. Scolieri, Associate Professor
Barnard College, Columbia University, USA

Between 1915–30, dancers Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn founded and helmed Denishawn, the first U.S. modern dance company and school. One of the most radical experiments of the modern stage, the company challenged prevailing perceptions of dancing as a degenerate activity by presenting dance as a theatrical art, thus paving the way for a modern dance tradition to emerge in the United States. The Denishawn School trained generations of performers, several of whom went on to become prominent modern dancers and choreographers, including Martha Graham, Doris Humphrey, Charles Weidman, and Jack Cole. In 1925, Denishawn embarked on the first-ever tour of a U.S. modern dance company in Asia. Over the course of sixteen months, the company visited over a dozen nations, presenting dances to both colonial expats and local audiences. Drawing upon diaries, letters, scrapbooks, programs, and archival photographs and films, this lecture will examine Denishawn’s infamous “Orient Tour,” focusing on the relationships forged with artists, such as Mei Lan Fang, Haruko Katayama, U Po Sein, among others. Moreover, it will consider the Denishawn tour in relation to other defining dance-related endeavors that took place in 1925: the publication of philosopher Siegfried Kracauer’s influential essay “Travel and Dance” and the groundbreaking fieldwork of dance and gender in Samoa by anthropologist Margaret Mead. The paper promises to contribute to the conference by elucidating the reciprocal impact of the Denishawn tour on dance histories in both the United States and Asia.

Paul Scolieri is an associate professor of dance at Barnard College, Columbia University. He is the author of Dancing the New World: Aztecs, Spaniards, and the Choreography of Conquest (University of Texas Press, 2013), the recipient of several honors, including the inaugural Oscar G. Brockett Book Prize for Dance Research. A former visiting scholar at Harvard University and the Library of Congress, Professor Scolieri has served on the Boards of Directors of the Congress on Research in Dance, the Society of Dance History Scholars, and the World Dance Alliance–Americas. He is currently writing a biography of Ted Shawn, “Father of American Dance” to be published by Oxford University Press.

Sherri Segovia - Headshot“Moving Through Digital Space: Choreographing a Literacy of the Body in Computer Interaction”
Mon 7/27 @ 1:30 pm – Webster 104

Sherri Segovia
University of Texas at Dallas, USA

Within a broader framework of human movement, interacting with computer devices presents a complexity that defies description, yet the minutiae of this subtle human effort plays a profound role as the pivotal enactive force between technical process and human will. Katherine Hayles describes this pairing as an interpenetration between the body and technology, while Sherry Turkle poses critical questions about the de-socialization this pairing cultivates. Indeed, computer interaction is distinctly characterized by nonlinguistic, solitary effort comprised of clicking, tapping, swiping, and pressing button devices. To address the binary perplexity as well as the aesthetic potential of these deceptively simple gestures, my research explores choreographic implications of a digital literacy of the body. Defining the parameters of this literacy requires an interdisciplinary approach that addresses human movement merged with digital code in a single phenomenological event. Rudolf Laban’s system of movement notation provides a meaningful basis for describing the fundamental characteristics of digitally interactive human effort. Just as literacy is traditionally associated with the cognitive performance of reading and writing, and dance is associated with technology of the body, a literacy of the body is grounded in a kinematic performance that both interprets and produces meaning from physical gestures of the body in motion.

Sherri Segovia has an interdisciplinary background that includes dance, technology, and new media. She is completing her PhD in Art and Technology at the University of Texas at Dallas, where her research integrates human movement in contexts of social media, gaming and digitally interactive art. Concurrently, Sherri is a curriculum writer for the Texas Cultural Trust in Dance and Media Communications where she is developing coursework that merges creative exploration in dance with intelligent composition in digital design. Her approach to technology comes through choreography: Sherri has a Masters of Fine Arts in dance from the University of California Irvine, with professional experience as a choreographer, dance teacher and performer, combined with 15 years’ experience as a design director in user interaction design.

Anadel Lynton Snyder - Headshot“Dancing in Community: Creating with Movement to Stimulate Communal Action for Ecology, Human Rights, Peace, and Dignity in Mexico”
Wed 7/29 @ 3:30 pm – Webster 104

Anadel Lynton Snyder, Full Researcher
National Center for Dance Research, Documentation and Information José Limón, Mexico / National Institute of Fine Arts, Mexico

Mexico’s tradition of community dance rituals finds new spaces and places in which the contemporary needs of its people are addressed. Returning to the creation of dances for communal healing is currently being explored by members of the Mexican professional dance community as a substitute for the artistic portrayal of violence, often used to provoke social and political consciousness and actions in the past. Following Hans-Thies Lehmann’s analysis of postdramatic theater (2013), this presentation will explore the author’s action-based research into the issues emerging in a “postchoreographic” turn in which attention is given to social themes, use of alternative spaces, nonprofessionally trained performers, and ongoing collaborative and interdisciplinary processes.  Mexico has been facing a disturbing increase (approximately 22,300 cases) in violence and forced disappearances over the past ten years. One recent event, the disappearance of 43 first-year students from the Ayotzinapa Rural Normal School at the hands of local police and criminals, filled the world with horror. In response, many Mexican dancers and actors created dramatic actions drawing attention to the crisis. Other activities include a participative ritual performance known as “En el filo (On the Edge),” enacted at the Normal School and in other rural communities, in the festivals Urbi y Cuerpo (City and Body) and in the Global Water Dance. These dramatic actions are part of the urban dance interventions planned to commemorate diverse community solidarity to include the series of street dance festivals emerging after the 1985 earthquake. The author will invite participation in the movement experience outside after the presentation.

Anadel Lynton Snyder is a founding researcher of México’s National Center for Dance Research, Documentation and Information José Limón of the National Institute of Fine Arts (1983). She has performed with the companies Ballet National, Ballet Independiente, and Tropicanas, as well performing and directing the groups Kurpítee’cha (those who join in dance in the Purépacha language of Michoacan), Romerias Tours, and Ollin y otros movimientos. She was honored with the México’s XXVII José Limón National Dance Award for dance research in in 2014. She specializes in creating, teaching, and performing in dancing in community participative workshops and animation using improvisation and scripting as skills to be shared. She studied at the University of Chicago, the National Institute of Fine Arts, and in the doctoral program at Temple University.

Mila Thigpen - Headshot“Choreographing Counter-Narrative: Dance and Civil Rights Movements in the Work of Kyle Abraham”
Wed 7/29 @ 3:30 pm – Webster 103

Mila Thigpen, Doctoral Student
Texas Women’s University, USA

Counter-storytelling is a critical academic tool used within Critical Race Theory (how citizenship and race intersect) to ensure that marginalized stories receive attention despite the dominant cultural narratives that often overwhelm discourse (Solórzano & Yosso, 2002). The Kyle Abraham and Abraham in Motion dance company’s 2014 project, When the Wolves Came In, offers a movement-based counter-narrative in response to the dominant master narrative about the social conditions igniting civil rights activity during the mid-twentieth century in the United States. When the Wolves Came In uses the tool of counter-narrative as expressed through choreography to give voice to an often-muted experience of inequality. Critical Race Theory – or CRT – is useful for analyzing this dance performance, and André Lepecki’s theories of choreopolitics and choreopolicing (Lepecki, 2013) further examine Abraham’s choreography. Lepecki (2013) posits that choreopolitics is the experimental exercise of freedom resulting from individual agency over various elements and implications to movement (Lepecki, 2013). Choreopolicing, a related concept, is described by Lepecki as the normative movement created by an “imposition of forced ontological fitting between pregiven movements, bodies in conformity, and pre-assigned places for circulation” (p. 15). Critical Race Theory’s tenet of counter-storytelling and André Lepecki’s theory of choreopolitics and choreopolicing provide a helpful structure for closely reading the choreography of Kyle Abraham’s dance, When the Wolves Came In.

Boston-based teaching artist Mila Thigpen is a graduate of Kenyon College (BA), The Boston Conservatory (MFA), Harvard University (EdM), and the Emerging Leaders Program at University of Massachusetts Boston. Mila has coordinated a Fulbright exchange in the Netherlands and is an alumna of the Choreographer’s Lab at Jacob’s Pillow. Her faculty appointments include Boston Ballet, Cambridge Rindge & Latin School, Tufts University, and Artistic Director of AileyCamp Boston through Celebrity Series. Having been described as a “lively dancer” by the Boston Globe, Mila has performed for a variety of dance companies and choreographers including Seán Curran, Germaul Barnes, Arthur Aviles, Aszure Barton, ANIKAI Dance, KAIROS Dance Theater, and MetaMovements Latin Dance Company. Currently, Mila is a doctoral student in dance studies at Texas Woman’s University. Her scholarly interests include dance ethnology, dance pedagogy, and Critical Race Theory.

Alba Vieira - Headshot“‘[Soma]torio’: A Performance Informed by Embodiment of the ‘Really Alive’ Space Poetics”
Mon 7/27 @ 3:30 pm – Webster 112

Dr. Alba Pedreira Vieira
Federal University of Vicosa, Brazil

This practice-oriented study conducted in Brazil explores connections between dance, body, and space. The artistic research evolved into a performance, “[Soma]torio,” informed by embodiment of  the “really alive” space poetics (an approach I developed)  and structured improvisation. The piece, under my direction, was a 30-minute trio (including myself), whose configuration was based on the three-storied building where it was performed. Process and product intertwined while the performance progressed as the artists dynamically explored and interacted with space – considered as a co-dancer. Data includes journals from 18 audience members and also from the dancers about their perception of the performance. It was analyzed through a qualitative method, Bond and Richard’s (2005) experiential inquiry. As a whole, the study illuminates participants’ meanings of dance performance in terms of lived space and space’s agency, and aspects of the lived relation dancers maintained with the audience in the interpersonal space they shared and explored together. I suggest the piece was performed in an environment that helped artists and audience experience the space as a dynamic agent. The results showed how participants talked about the space as if it seemed “really alive.” The dancers’ spoke of a similar experience, and, from that inner feeling and sensation, how they could spread into outer space with much more connectedness. The dynamics between dancers and space was key to building that bridge.  I suggest space may have a dreamlike quality in certain dance performances – this happens when space becomes “alive” and is experienced differently from ordinary reality.

Alba Pedreira Vieira holds a Ph.D. degree in Dance from Temple University, USA. Currently, she is a full-time professor and artistic director at Federal University of Vicosa, Brazil. She has experience in Arts, with an emphasis on Dance, developing research on creative processes in dance, improvisation and somatic education. She is the author of book chapters and papers published nationally and internationally, the organizer of the digital book “Education for the Arts” (2010), and the co-writer of the Dance Report and Recommendations by the “Experts on Art Education in Latin America and the Caribbean – Unesco”. Her work has been presented in several venues including NDEO, WDA, daCi and CORD conferences, and published in journals including Dance Therapy, Dance Current Selected Research, Possible Dialogues and Journal Scene. Since 2012, she has served as a National Representative for DaCi. In 2013 she joined the WDA-Americas Board of Directors.

Fatima Wachowicz - Headshot“Perception and Attention in Creative Dance: Investigating the Viewpoints Approach to Dance Improvisation through the Lens of Cognitive Psychology”
Tues 7/28 @ 11 am – Kuykendall 307

Dr. Fatima Wachowicz
Federal University of Bahia, Brazil / University of Western Sydney – The MARCS Institute, Australia

This presentation explores Viewpoints training (Bogart and Landau, 2005) as a system for dancers that supports interaction and integration across the senses. The goal is to identify psychological processes that Viewpoints act on and that give rise to change. Some examples explored include: i) learning to “listen with the whole body” as heightened multisensory integration – a kind of acute Synesthesia and interaction across the senses (Parise & Spence, 2009; Ward, 2013, 2014); ii) collective behavior and distributed leadership as Flocking (Leonard et al, 2014; Dyer et al, 2008); and iii) Attention, as part of both the synesthesia and the flocking processes that enhances sensory integration and crowd dynamics. According to literature, Viewpoints (Climenhaga, 2010; Bogart, 2003, 2005; Ravid, 2008) develops the senses to respond quickly to surrounding stimuli, highlights the artist’s attention and awareness, builds the perceptual awareness of self and the connection with others, improves the sense of aliveness on stage, and develops open awareness and the responsibility to create a group dynamic that leads to experiencing the connections created with others in places and stages. Time and space connections are the core of Viewpoints training. (Mather, 2009) Different engagements between the body in time and space provide new modes of presenting and experiencing dance by exploring new dance opportunities and narratives. This presentation will include results of a studio-based experiment that investigated the impact of a Viewpoints class on improvisation and group synchrony.

Fatima Wachowicz has taught, performed, and researched dance in the last 20 years. She is a Professor at School of Dance, Federal University of Bahia/Brazil. She has been using experimental methods and Viewpoints principles to investigate cognitive processes in creating and performing dance. Currently, she is conducting Postdoctoral Research on a CAPES fellowship at The MARCS Institute/University of Western Sydney, Australia.

Kate Stevens investigates the psychological processes in creating, perceiving, and performing music and dance. Kate is a Professor in Psychology and Director of Research and Engagement in the MARCS Institute for Brain, Behavior, and Development at the University of Western Sydney (

John Cass is an experimental psychologist who uses psychophysical methods to investigate the brain processes and computational principles that underlie our visual and multi-sensory perceptual experience of time and space. John is a Senior Research Lecturer in the School of Social Sciences & Psychology at the University of Western Sydney.

Heaadshot - Mary Jane Warner“Ballet Jörgen Canada: The Influence of Diverse Performance Locations on the Evolution of a Ballet”
Tues 7/28 @ 3:30 pm – Kuykendall 301

Dr. Mary Jane Warner
York University, Canada

Ballet Jörgen Canada was founded by Bengt Jörgen in 1987 “to advance the art and appreciation of ballet and Canadian choreography through performance, education, and outreach.” The small company performs both original ballets and contemporary works created by its founder and guest choreographers. The company travels across Canada annually presenting traditional works such as Romeo and Juliet and Swan Lake. In 2013-14, Ballet Jörgen connected with 55000 people, giving over 120 performances, and holding 858 events.  The company performs in spaces ranging from large professional theatres with extensive technical equipment to small community theatres with limited facilities. The choreographer and production team design each ballet to adjust to ever-changing spaces. The productions are strongly influenced by specific locations. Young dancers are invited to dance small roles. How does the company work with children in large centres versus utilizing youngsters in remote locations, with few dance students?  Relatively little has been written about this company, the fifth largest in Canada. Therefore, the methodology utilized focuses primarily on qualitative research using interviews with artistic director Bengt Jörgen, individual company dancers and apprentices, and other personnel to clarify their activities and to interpret how their performances are adjusted in various communities across Canada. Liaison members in selected communities provide reflections on how the company adjusts to individual communities. Annual reports provide statistics to supplement the research. The results of this research may assist other companies to find ways of modifying their own work to meet the needs of diverse communities.

Dr. Mary Jane Warner is the current President of World Dance Alliance – Americas. Professor Emerita in Dance at York University, her current research focuses on Canadian dance heritage works through written documentation, videography, and the bi-annual performance of the repertory dance company Toronto Heritage Dance. Her major publications include Toronto Dance Teachers: 1825 – 1925, and with Selma Odom, Canadian Dance: Visions and Stories. She is currently documenting the development of Ballet Jorgen Canada, one of Canada’s smaller professional dance companies. She continues to be active on several research projects related to the benefits of dance in maintaining health in older adults.

“Space and Place: An Exploration of Indigenous Ways of Knowing and Doing in Research”
Mon 7/27 @ 3:30 pm – Webster 103

Sophie Williams, Assistant Lecturer
The University of Auckland, New Zeland

This paper explores indigenous ways of knowing and doing in research. Emerging from the early phase of my doctoral research, He tōnga kākano: The planting of the seed, this investigation specifically seeks to illuminate how indigenous methodologies might be entwined to develop narratives from Fijian and Māori dance practitioners. Within the wider context of indigenous methodologies, this paper aims to explore Māori and Fijian ways of understanding and undertaking research, guided by particular indigenous philosophies drawn from Māori and Fijian ideas and concepts. This paper aims to discuss indigenous methodologies and ways of gathering narratives that are implicated when researching in indigenous communities and places. Extending beyond a descriptive account and reflection of these methods, this paper interrogates and revaluates indigenous methodologies in relation to dance narratives and how this process is negotiated in relation to space and place.

Sophie Williams is a professional Māori dancer, Kaihaka, and choreographer. She completed her bachelors with honours degree in Dance Studies at The University of Auckland, graduating with first class. Sophie is currently an Assistant Lecturer at The University of Auckland, while continuing  to complete her Ph.D. research which explors indigenous performative knowledge within contemporary dance contexts. Sophie is also a company member of Hawaiki TŪ Haka Theatre and has been a long-standing member of Tūhourangi Ngāti Wāhiao Kapa Haka group in Aotearoa. Her involvement within these particular communities and specific interest in indigeneity helps to create the foundation of her performance practice and influences her beliefs, values, and ideas from which indigenous performance stems.

Lynn Wiltshire -Headshot“Correlational Methods for Analyzing Alignment and Movement in Dancers”
Tues 7/28 @ 11 am – Kuykendall 307

Lyn C. Wiltshire, Professor
University of Texas at Austin, USA

This presentation looks at the impact of learning behaviors on the alignment and movement of dancers through the theories of Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligences and Richard Bandler’s and John Grinder’s neuro-linguistic programming (NLP). By reflecting on years of teaching and using these correlational methods, I scrutinized physical characteristics related to specific intelligence that represent a persons’ ability to learn movement or specific conceptual ideas. Multiple intelligences and neuro-linguistic programming, two theorist that study subjective experiences exhibited through behaviors, encompass a wide range of curriculums including the arts; however, research in movement and embodied practice is limited. Various studies have explored and contributed to detailed understandings of human cognitive development, the kinaesthetic domain and the processes of learning.  I maintain there are physical characteristics imprinted in the musculature resulting from decoding movement concepts identified through the relationship between specific intelligence and eye movement.  I have observed that the body reveals recognizable physical traits related to eye movement, e.g., a visual learner will look upwards; a kinaesthetic learner looks down and an auditory learner keeps the eyes straight ahead. The body is a receptor not only intellectually but also physically. Visual, auditory, and kinaesthetic information defined through learning behaviors sculpts the body into the physical specimen we reveal.  I discuss the relevance of exploring the physical “space” and evaluating how multiple intelligences and NLP have a muscular and alignment codification imprinted not only because of the learning behaviors but also because of the embodied practice of training.

Professor Lyn Wiltshire is head of dance and pedagogy at the University of Texas at Austin.  She is a dance educator, administrator, director, and Fulbright Specialist Scholar.  As a choreographer her work is accessible and rooted in professional training with world-renowned dance artists such as Arthur Mitchell, Limon, Graham, and Ailey. She has performed and toured notable dance companies, including the Dance Theatre of Harlem and the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Beyond her work at UT, she choreographs, offers master classes, and presents lectures worldwide.

Emily Wright - Headshot“Dancing Christian: Sacred Narratives in Concert Dance”
Thur 7/30 @ 11:00 am – Kuykendall 307

Emily Wright, Associate Professor
Belhaven University, USA

In Dancing Communities: Performance, Difference and Connection in the Global City, Judith Hamera (2011) explores concert dance and amateur practices in Los Angeles as sites of the confluence of gender, race, class, and culture in urban communities. Hamera asserts that aesthetics in general, and dance techniques in particular, can be framed as practices of everyday urban life that shape and are shaped by the processes of building dancing communities. In a similar fashion, scholars of American religion are exploring the ways in which religious communities employ narrative and embodied strategies as co-constructive and mutually dialogic producers of particular kinds of religious communities.[1] This presentation gathers the strands of inquiry in dance and religious studies to explore the construction of meaning in American evangelical Christian dance communities. To that end, this presentation will examine the narrative and embodied strategies of a religious university dance ensemble to demonstrate the ways in which a community emerges from the convergence of narrative and embodied practices at the confluence of faith and art making. Finally, this presentation asks what this type of approach to studying dance does for the field: What kinds of meanings are produced/enabled through an inquiry that combines narrative and embodied approaches? What are the advantages and/or limitations to such an approach?

[1] For examples, see Lynne Gerber’s (2012) Seeking the Straight and Narrow: Weight-Loss and Sexual Reorientation in Evangelical America and Brian Howell’s (2012) Short Term Mission: An Ethnography of Christian Travel Narrative and Experience.

Emily Wright is an Associate Professor of Dance at Belhaven University in Jackson, Mississippi, where she teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in dance technique, pedagogy, history, theory and research. Ms. Wright has presented her research on American Christianity and professional dance at numerous national and international conferences, including the Congress on Research in Dance, the National Dance Education Organization, and the Nordic Forum of Dance Research. Her work has been published in Fields in Motion: Ethnography in the Worlds of Dance (2011), the Journal of Emerging Dance Scholarship (2013), and the Journal of Dance, Movement and Spiritualities (2014). Ms. Wright is currently completing her PhD in Dance (ABD) at Texas Woman’s University.


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