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The Dance Enthusiast Hits the Streets: Dance/NYC 2019 Symposium

The Dance Enthusiast Hits the Streets: Dance/NYC 2019 Symposium
Deirdre Towers/Follow @deirdre.towers on Instagram

By Deirdre Towers/Follow @deirdre.towers on Instagram
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Published on March 2, 2019
Photo by Albin Lohr-Jones

February 23, 2019

Hunter College

If living well is the best revenge, then being thoughtful, compassionate, and brave is the best strategy in these toxic times. “Dance/NYC believes the social ecology must itself be just, equitable, and inclusive to meaningfully contribute to social progress.”

Dance/NYC’s Acting Executive Director Alejandra Duque Cifuentes opened the Morning Keynote program at Hunter College with a reminder that we in Manhattan are standing on land stolen from Native Americans. Dancer/Choreographer Emily Johnson embellished on this theme in her Keynote speech and later in a workshop entitled: Embodied Land Acknowledgment - A Call to Kinship. Any form of reconciliation to recognize the displacement of Indigenous people before our events is encouraged.

Four important figures of dance talk
Miguel Gutierrez, Emily Johnson, Jaamil Olawale Kosoko, and Eva Yaa Asantewaa at the 2019 Dance/NYC Symposium; Photo by Albin Lohr-Jones

In this valiant attempt to be color-sensitive and address issues felt by artists today, whether stirred by racial and gender inequities in opportunities, funding, education, the 2019 Symposium demonstrated a breadth of vision. The mood wasn’t altogether earnest, as some of the artists presenting were often hilarious. We can count on dancer/choreographer Miguel Gutierrez, who spoke on the Morning Keynote along with Johnson, dancer/writer Jaamil Olawale Kosoko, and moderator Eva Yaa Asantewaa, to make us giggle.

“If we do not transform our pain, we will most assuredly transmit it.” This adage was central to the workshop entitled Justice and Healing Practices in Dance with featured speakers: Jill Sigman, Melanie Greene, mayfield brooks, and iele paloumpis. It could also be said to be the underlying goal of the symposium.

Two curators stand behind a lecturn
Stephanie Acosta and Remi Harris at the 2019 Dance/NYC Symposium; Photo by Dianna Hu

The agenda offered three keynotes and twenty-two workshops with over 100 speakers from legal, administrative, and artistic backgrounds, as well as a lunch for networking. Some of the features included a legal clinic, SmART Bar Consultations, sessions on higher education, de-colonizing syllabi, fundraising, mental health, sanctuaries, consent, representation, and thoughts on how artists can be paid a living wage.

Ambitious and bubbling with honest reflection, the Dance/NYC Symposium made a call for courage. The printed program had amble questions for each session that could provoke further reflection post-symposium, including the curatorial statement by Remi Harris and Stephanie Acosta:

“We continue to question who has a seat at the table and seek answers.”

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