Locating 'D'ance in Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies in Canada

A symposium at the University of Toronto By Sarah Lochhead
  • Danielle Robinson of York University and Jeff Packman of the University of Toronto give a lunchtime presentation on their research on samba de roda practitioners of the Bahian Recôncavo / Photo by Henry Daniel
  • Dr. Munjulika Rahman of the University of Malaya / Photo by Henry Daniel

The Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies at the University of Toronto (UofT) hosted The Other “D”: Locating ‘D’ance in Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies in Canada, a free two-day symposium, January 22-23, 2016,

Organized by PhD candidate Seika Boye and Dr. Heather Fitzsimmons-Frey, of the Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies program at UofT, and Dr. Evadne Kelly, a dance studies scholar from York University, the symposium offered an array of presentation formats including lecture demonstrations, paper presentations, poster presentations and performances.

The opening keynote was delivered by renowned dance scholar Susan Manning of Northwestern University. Manning discussed “the intellectual, artistic, and institutional forces that have shaped the convergence of dance studies with studies of drama, theatre and performance in the United States academy,” as noted in her abstract.

Canadian dance scholar Allana Lindgren gave the keynote on the second day. Lindgren outlined how dance research in Canada has benefited from interdisciplinarity, the benefits of preserving discrete disciplines and ways to ensure and enhance the presence of dance studies within Canadian universities.

The discussions were international in scope and explored historical and contemporary sites of research. Highlights throughout the symposium included Selma Odom’s lecture demonstration on recovering Émile Jaques-Dalcroze’s series of twenty gestures and their seeming disappearance from current day Dalcroze method teaching practices, and York University graduate student Jonathan Osborn’s exploration of the preprogrammed dance sequences or “emotes” inside the multi-player online role playing game World of Warcraft (WOW). Osborn explained how these dance sequences are racialized and gendered in their online form but can be sites of agency and play when enacted and adapted in live performance by players at WOW gaming conventions.

Performances included The Waiters: The Process Revealed: A Tragi/Danci-Comedy -- a part grant proposal, part Dragon’s Den pitch comedic work – by Common People (Emma Kerson and Andrew Hartley) and a sincerely poignant work by The Dietrich Group.

Over the two days, attendees took in display cases exhibiting items from Canada’s national dance archives, Dance Collection Danse, that explored the disciplinary overlap of dance, theatre and performance art through archival artifacts.

“It is easy to think that scholars, artists, educators and advocates who have common interests in this niche community know one another,” said the organizing committee, which also included symposium advisor Nikki Cesare Schotzko. “But people – inside and outside of the academy – are not connected in ways they could be. This is untapped potential for idea generation, community building and resource sharing across Canada and internationally. We need to move forward considering models that are alternatives to annual conferences.” 

The Other D is hosting a roundtable at The Canadian Association for Theatre Research conference in Calgary, May 28-31, 2016.

Learn more >> theotherd.ca

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