Re:Generations International Dance Conference Hailed a Success

Re:Generations International Dance Conference Hailed a Success

Re:Generations – International Perspectives on Dance of the African Diaspora, a gathering of African, Caribbean, African American and British dance artists, writers and academics which took place from 5-6 November 2010 was attended by close to 100 delegates.  The conference was delivered by a partnership including ADAD, IRIE! dance theatre, State of Emergency Productions and London Metropolitan University and included academic papers, performances, seminars and dance workshops. In her welcome address, Judith Palmer, the Chair of ADAD, summarised the importance of the conference as follows:

The significance of this conference to ADAD is that it provides us with a catalyst to conserve, interpret and consolidate the practice of African People’s Dance and in so doing raises the profile of these art forms as an intrinsic part of the British cultural landscape.

She continued by reminding delegates that by participating in the conference they were creating history:

African Culture and its offspring in the Diaspora emerge from a collectivist culture. For example colloquialisms such as “unity is strength”, “one hand can’t clap” and “a bundle of sticks is unbreakable” are reminiscent of significant events in our history.  Therefore, I would ask for us to bear in mind that it not only takes a community to raise a child, it takes a community to make history and it is that collectivist nature that will help to nurture and strengthen the development of our dance forms in the Diaspora, recognise that we are making history today and that we all have a part to play in this history no matter how small.

In another opening address, Hassan Mahamdallie, Senior Officer for Diversity at Arts Council England, highlighted the council’s commitment to providing continued support for excellent arts that reflect the diversity of contemporary England.

The key-note address Researching Performance – The (Black) Dancing Body as a Measure of Culture was delivered by Brenda Dixon-Gottschild, professor emerita from Temple University, Philadelphia, U.S.A.  Other international speakers and contributors included:

  • Dr Kariamu Welsh-Asante, Professor and Dance Department Chair, Temple University, California, USA;
  • Christopher Walker, National Dance Theatre Company of Jamaica/University of Wisconsin, USA;
  • Thomas Presto, Trinidadian/Norwegian founder of Tabanka Crew (Finalists in Norways Got Talent 2010);
  • Vivine Scarlett, founder of Dance Immersion in Toronto, Canada; and
  • Sheron Wray, British choreographer/researcher currently based at the University of California.

There were also presentations by UK-based academics representing York St John University, Lincoln University, De Montfort University, University of East London, Canterbury Christ Church University and University of Surrey, as well as independent researchers and artists including Funmi Adewole Kruczkowska.

In presenting the closing address, Beverley Glean, IRIE! dance theatre’s Artistic Director said that she felt the conference surpassed expectations.  She also highlighted what a great opportunity the Re:Generations Conference was:

We have witnessed the opportunity to strengthen the ties between each other in the UK as well as with our international counterparts.

We have had the opportunity to share experiences, to listen to committed voices, to feel that the issues that concern us are basically the same.

But, above all, we have had the opportunity to observe a clear political and social desire that the sector must be players in a process that concerns us all.

And she urged the delegates to work together to implement what had been discussed at the conference.

We must promote and integrate our legitimate creativity, hopes and ideals in the fields we have talked of so much here – education, research, choreography, archiving, performance, etc.  As we embark upon this exciting journey it is necessary for all of us – agencies, companies, education institutions and individuals – to work together to put into practice all we have discussed.

A selection of papers from the conference will be published in Spring 2011 and we will update you when those papers are ready.

The conference was supported by Arts Council England through its Grants for the Arts program.

Photo: Re:Generations – Partners and Speakers

Back row (left-right): Beverley Glean, Artistic Director IRIE! dance theatre; Funmi Adewole, Independent Researcher, Judith Palmer, Chair ADAD;  Professor Brenda Dixon Gottschild, professor emerita Temple University, USA; Thomas Presto, Trinidadian/Norwegian dance artist; Dr Kariamu Welsh-Asante, Professor and Dance Department Chair, Temple University, California, USA; Rosie Lehan, Senior Dance Lecturer, City and Islington College; Jeanette Bain-Burnett, Director ADAD

Front row (left-right): Professor Ramsay Burt, De Montfort University, UK; Sheron Wray, choreographer/researcher, University of California, USA; Lucy Richardson and Jane Turner, London Metropolitan University, Alesandra Seutin, Artistic Director Vocab Dance, UK; Deborah Baddoo MBE, Artistic Director, State of Emergency Productions, UK.

Photo Credit: Toby Ross-Southall