"The precise role of the artist, then, is to illuminate that darkness, blaze roads through vast forests, so that we will not, in all our doing, lose sight of its purpose, which is, after all, to make the world a more human dwelling place." – James Baldwin
Co-hosted by the Black Choreographers Festival: Here & Now, Dancers' Group and CounterPulse, this edition of the Dance Discourse Project will take the form of roundtable and small-group community conversations generated by themes centered around racial injustice/violence, soul to soul healing, and community care. Moderator Laura Elaine Ellis, co-director of the Black Choreographers Festival: Here and Now, is joined by panelists dana e. fitchett, Sheena Johnson, and Thomas Robert Simpson. Facilitated by this panel of artists/activists, who are actively creating work addressing social justice and cultural equity, this DDP focuses on the power of community activism and bridging cultural chasms. Inspired by James Baldwin's quote as a frame of reference, together we will vision a more human dwelling place, asking ourselves: what does it look like, how do we get there and what is our role in the journey?
Guest Curator/Moderator Laura Elaine Ellis has been a force within the Bay Area dance Community for over twenty years. In addition to dancing, choreographing and teaching, she co-produces the annual Black Choreographers Festival: Here and Now, a multifaceted, comprehensive festival celebrating the diverse artistic expression within the context of African and African American dance and culture.
Currently a CounterPulse Performing Diaspora resident artist, dana e. fitchett is a multidisciplinary artist and radical mixed-race Black woman who uses her relationship to music, visual art, and movement as a sandbox for exploration of identity and issues of justice, and for seeking healing from racism and capitalism through the reimagination of possibilities.
Sheena Johnson brings over a decade of experience working at the intersection of arts and social justice as both an accomplished artist-activist and effective non-profit administrator. She is passionate about the critical role artists and cultural work can play in building voice, power and self-determination in communities of color, and currently serves as a Program Officer with the Akonadi Foundation, a racial justice foundation located in Oakland.
Thomas Robert Simpson, founder and artistic director of the AfroSolo Arts Festival, has achieved 25 years of presenting African American and African Diasporic art and culture through solo performances and the visual and literary arts. Simpson also uses this Arts Festival to focus on the health of African Americans, collaborating with the medical community to present health fairs, and serving on committees charged with decreasing the health disparity in the African American community. www.afrosolo.org
The Dance Discourse Project is a far reaching, far ranging, ambitious project that aims to articulate in a cohesive and coherent way, from the participants themselves, what is happening in dance in the Bay Area and beyond. Topics of discussion have included site-specific dance, performance and technology, dance criticism, post-multiculturalism, and dancing politics, among others. Begun in 2007, the Dance Discourse Project is an ongoing series that takes place roughly three times a year.