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Improvisational Crossings: Social Dance as Interdisciplinary Intervention

Year of Funding: 
Man dancing in a club

Colloquium: April 13-15, 2018

This two-day colloquium, open to the public, closely examines dances of togetherness, or “together dancing,” asking how connections and divisions between people and groups can work as both lens and method for engaging interdisciplinary inquiry. We consider “social dance” less as a fixed category than a term that describes how people learn to relate in and through movement. We bring together six dance scholar/practitioners across disciplines for presentations, dance workshops, and conversations that address the themes of crossing, improvisation and sociality.

As dancer and scholars, we reflect upon and enact border crossings that raise questions of transmission, translation, protection and defense, embodied separation, and dynamic relation. Together we ask: how do social dance scholarship and practice lend themselves to a critique of the formation of geographic, political, cultural, and institutional borders? How do migrations of social dance forms across borders shape new ways of understanding the reproduction and disruption of categories of difference and inclusion, especially when these dances are adapted and re-contextualized by communities with drastically different racial, ethnic, gender, and sexual constituencies than their culture of origin? What is the role of improvisation in negotiating and challenging borders? How might successful improvisational dance strategies be adapted for other academic and political contexts? Can culturally embedded improvisational social dance practices cross into academic institutions in ways that uphold their core aesthetic and cultural values? If so, how?

Even as this colloquium centers dance scholarship and practice, it locates “together dancing” as something inextricable from informal and not-fully-institutional knowledge systems and ways of being that inherently reject the separation of dance as a distinct category of inquiry.


Primary Contacts

Juliet McMains (Dance) 

Naomi Bragin (Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences, UW Bothell)

Jade Power-Sotomayor (Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences, UW Bothell)