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Dancing Fugitive Futures

A working group for Choreographic Artists of Color, convened in 2012.

MINNEAPOLIS — Two dance companies, Ananya Dance Theatre, based in Minneapolis, and Slippage, based in Durham, join forces with the University of Minnesota’s Dance Program and The Institute for Advanced Study to convene a symposium of choreographers and dance artists to generate greater understanding about genres and categories in dance, and how they function, from September 9-11, 2012.

Thomas F. DeFrantz, Duke University, and Ananya Chatterjea, University of Minnesota, will convene “Dancing Fugitive Futures: Conversations with Artists and Thinkers” over three days, Sept. 9-11, at the University of Minnesota’s Minneapolis campus. The event is a symposium about dancing, categories, and understanding genres used to describe dance.

The symposium will feature conversations with Donald Byrd, Michael Sakamoto, Santee Smith, Makeda Thomas, and Reggie Wilson, along with the two conveners. These practicing, contemporary artists from global communities of color will wonder together about the spaces their work occupies on the general continuum of concert dance.

The conveners propose that the work of these artists of color is progressive and distinguished because it deconstructs political, cultural, and aesthetic practices, descriptions, and assumptions, and offers alternative ways to think about dancing and spaces of dance. The descriptor “fugitive” underscores the intention of the conveners and panelists to not establish new, fixed categories for their work, which, in turn, will generate their own sets of permissions and exclusions, but rather to open up the process whereby dance is looked at and adjudicated. The conveners suggest that descriptors for dance works are themselves fugitive, fleeting, and should wither away as they fulfill their function in the moment.

“In convening this symposium,” said Chatterjea, whose choreographic work is located at the intersection of artistic practice and social justice, “we hope to enlarge perceptions of work that will steer us toward a progressive model of art-making, audience building, and community engagement. Ultimately, we hope our shared understanding of each other’s work can facilitate broader dialogues about the fugitive futures of the dance world.”

DeFrantz, whose company SLIPPAGE works at the intersections of new technologies and cultural histories, said that, “futures are important to younger artists and audiences imagining a world in which performance and culture matter.  The artists in this symposium each work to open spaces that acknowledge shared artistic legacies, as well as creative impulses of innovation.”

The symposium is free and open to the public, but space is limited. Those with questions or who are interested in attending are asked to email and with their plans.

Ananya Chatterjea is dancer, choreographer, dance scholar, and dance educator, who envisions her work in the field of dance as a “call to action” with particular focus on women artists of color. She is the artistic director of Ananya Dance Theatre, a company of women artists of color committed to the intersection of artistic excellence and social justice ( She is also Director of the Dance Program and Professor of Theater Arts and Dance in the University of Minnesota.

Ananya is the proud recipient of a 2011 Guggenheim Artist Fellowship for Choreography and a 2012 McKnight Choreographer’s Fellowship. She was named “Best Choreographer” by City Pages (2007) and has received awards from the BIHA (Black Indian Hispanic Asian) Women In Action organization, the MN Women’s Political Caucus, the 21 leaders for the 21st Century Award from Women’s E-News, and was honored by the Josie Johnson Social Justice and Human Rights Award, for her work weaving together artistic excellence, social justice, and community-building.

Michael Sakamoto creates interdisciplinary performances in butoh-based dance theater, contemporary theater, photography, installation, and media art. Since 1998, he has performed and exhibited his work throughout North America, Asia, and Europe.

From 1994 to 2000, he was a soloist in the Rachel Rosenthal Company. As an educator, Sakamoto serves as faculty advisor in the MFA-Interdisciplinary Arts program at Goddard College and adjunct faculty in the Theatre Department at the California Institute of the Arts. As an arts administrator, he served as program coordinator at the 18th Street Arts Center, an international artist residency center in Santa Monica, California, from 2000 to 2007.