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REF NO.: 157

SUBJECT: Dance symposium to celebrate naming of community dance studio

DATE: May 20

A group of internationally renowned ethnomusicologists will join local scholars and dancers for a lively exchange about embodiment, pedagogy and dance to celebrate the naming of a new community dance studio in the St. John’s Arts and Culture Centre.

The Dance Space was built through collaboration between Memorial University’s Research Centre for the Study of Music, Media and Place (MMaP) and the St. John’s Arts and Culture Centre, with financial support from the Canada Foundation for Innovation.

The Dance Space provides a professional workshop, rehearsal and performance space to members of the vibrant local dance community, as well as a space for MMaP dance-related research and workshops, with the mandate of fostering creative activity. Located on the third floor of the Arts and Culture Centre, the studio has been open for public use since September 2014, with renovations completed in 2015.

To celebrate the completion of this project, the MMaP Research Centre is hosting a half-day symposium on the topic of Embodiment, Gesture and Dance on Sunday, May 24, from 9-2 p.m. in the MMaP Gallery, second floor, St. John’s Arts and Culture Centre. The symposium will focus on the challenges of representing and teaching embodiment and movement in Newfoundland and around the world, and the role of improvisation in dance and other performing arts.

The morning event will begin with a roundtable discussion from 9-10:15 a.m. titled Where Words Fail: Challenges of Representing and Teaching Movement. The session will focus on how scholars and dancers study, describe (through language, notation or other means) and teach embodiment and gesture. Speaking from their experiences as practitioners, dance teachers and researchers of particular types of dance, participating panellists will identify differences and incongruities between the way ethnomusicologists and dancers from different cultural communities approach the study of movement. Roundtable panellists will include Anne Rasmussen, College of William and Mary, who works on music and dance in Oman; local Bollywood dancer Sanchita Chakraborty, Bollywood Jig dance school; Andrew Weintraub, University of Pittsburgh, who studies popular music in Indonesia; local scholar and belly dancer Ainsley Hawthorn, Community Foundation of N.L.; and Margaret Sarkissian, Smith College, a specialist in the music and dance of Malaysia.

From 10:15-10:45 a.m., an official launch will take place in the Dance Space and will feature dance performances by members of the cross-cultural dance group Bollywood Jig and modern dancer Corie Harnett.

From 11 a.m.-12 p.m., a roundtable on Improvisation in Dance and Other Performing Arts will examine how cultural information such as gender, age and ethnicity is conveyed through movement. Panellists will include Sean William, Evergreen State College, a specialist in the performing arts of Ireland and parts of Asia; Kristin Harris Walsh, Memorial University, a local scholar and step dancer specializing in Newfoundland and Irish step dancing; Eliot Bates, University of Birmingham, who conducts research in Turkey; local modern dancer Corie Harnett, DanceNL; and Zoe Sherinian, University of Oklahoma, an ethnomusicologist and filmmaker who works in India.

From 12-1 p.m., local traditional musician and dance instructor Jim Payne will teach a Newfoundland set dance to attendees, followed by a reception in the MMaP Gallery.

The symposium is being held in conjunction with the meeting of the Board of the Society for Ethnomusicology (SEM) in St. John’s, running May 24-26 and hosted by Dr. Beverley Diamond, president, SEM.

“We are able to take advantage of the fortuitous coincidence of the board meeting which brings eight world-class scholars to our midst at the same time,” said Dr. Diamond. “Their cosmopolitan research and deep knowledge of music and dance traditions will enable vibrant dialogue with local practitioners.”

Admission to the event is free, open to the public, and no registration is necessary.

MMaP is sponsoring the symposium with support from the St. John’s Arts and Culture Centre, Memorial University’s Conference Fund and the International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation.

For program and more information, please visit www.mun.ca/mmap.

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For more information, please contact Meghan Forsyth, MMaP, Memorial University, at 709-864-2051 or mforsyth@mun.ca.

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