Dance EDI Initiatives (2021 – 2022)
Report from Chair
Our department at the faculty member level is really trying to address EDI matters at the teaching level and the Full-time faculty is addressing these as we move towards curriculum development and changing up the systems that we feel impede our progress at this level.
Report from EDI Rep.
- Our faculty retreat on December 10 was devoted to a workshop on “Race and Privilege” with York’s Centre for Human Rights, Equity and Inclusion.
- All three Graduate Colloquia this winter term featured and will feature BIPOC scholars and artists: Patrick Parson on Dunham technique in January; Emily Cheung on contemporizing Chinese traditional dance form in February; and Hari Krishnan on the socio-political-aesthetic aspects of Bharatanatyam in March.
- We re-envisioned the teaching of ballet to focus on health and wellness and plurality of identities, away from Eurocentricism.
- We protected non-western and street dances in our curriculum by keeping in the schedule the courses: Sub-Saharan Africa, Philippine Dance, and Breaking.
- We have scheduled 3 race and privilege sessions that are specifically tailored for students in Dance; 2 for the undergrads and 1 for the grads, again spearheaded by York’s Centre for Human Rights, Equity and Inclusion.
- Preliminary meetings with grad and undergrad reps with Christine Sinclair from the Centre in preparation for these 3 meetings were held.
- A follow-up workshop will be held with the faculty members in Dance, to be led by the Centre at the end of the winter term to share amongst each other what we have done in our own classes with regards to equality, diversity and inclusion.
- In the Dance Ethnography class this winter (DANCE 6400) where PhD, MA, and MFA students in Dance are registered, I have invited two dance artists of Guyanese and Ghanaian descent to share their own performance histories; their visit was made to correlate with the discussion of the book by Yvonne Daniel titled, Caribbean and Atlantic Diaspora: Igniting Citizenship.
- Depending on what transpires at our next retreat and follow-up with the Centre, we hope for our action IBPOC group to grow organically as it needs and wants to so that we have something in place that is unique to Dance by September.
- We also have had some meetings with community leaders and wish to bring them in as a support for our continued initiatives.
Dance Milestones for 2021-2022, and goals for 2022-2023
1) The removal of ballet in our auditions process and the putting of equal weight in terms of time allotment and grading to our global forms alongside contemporary and improv.
2) For the upcoming 2022-23 academic year, our department has scheduled all global dance forms (African, Philippine, Breaking & Hip-Hop) on weekday afternoons, alongside our ballet classes. These forms continue to be integral components of our core curriculum.
3) We have invited four Black, racially minoritized, and Indigenous artists and scholars as guest studio teachers and colloquium speakers for the 2021-22 academic year. These were: Ghanaian artist from Montreal, Zahra Badua https://www.zahramoves.com/instructors who conducted a workshop in Kpanlongo and gave a talk on West African dance; Filipino artist Chips Beltran https://udou.ph/dance/meet-chips-beltran-team-captain-of-upeepz-and-a-gem-in-ph- dance-scene/?fbclid=IwAR0ECoS0NjrCJ51k2hKDsZdAced2hl8f9bcmrFzzA1W875- lP8yxrykDSW who did a workshop on hip-hop and delivered a talk on the history of hip-hop in Manila; York alumna and Trinidadian artist Bridgette Wilson https://www.facebook.com/BWilsonChoreo/ did a workshop on contemporary dance and a talk on the carnival as it is practiced in the Caribbean; Indigenous performance artist Norma Araiza https://www.normaraiza.ca/about.htm gave a workshop and talk on movement as theatre and as therapy, respectively.) We do not view these invitations as “one-offs”. Every academic year we will continue to make such invitations, as the Department of Dance believes that it is critically important for our students and faculty to have dancing and embodied knowledge from IBPOC artists and scholars in our Department’s DNA.
5) The Department of Dance opened a job posting in September 2021 for a three-year, Assistant Professorship in Popular Dance. Our search is placing a significant weight
on finding a successful applicant both with professional experience and who has had
a long engagement with IBPOC communities. The posting can be found at the link:http://webapps.yorku.ca/academichiringviewer/viewposition.jsp?positionnumber=2166
6) We have officially formed a Department of Dance EDI Action Group, with representatives composed of tenured and pre-tenure professors, contractually limited faculty members, and graduate and undergraduate students. This group will ensure that its composition actualizes diversity and responsibly accounts for all the on-the-ground residents and stakeholders in our Department.
7) In 2022-23 and in response to the Kojo report, page 16, photos on the second floor of ACE will be curated by the Action group to reflect the Department’s commitment to EDI.
8) In 2022-23, a proposal to make African, Philippine, and Breaking & Hip-Hop a four- level course like our ballet classes will be made. At the moment, these forms have a 2000, 3000 and 4000 level. The plan is to include a 1000 level in all of them, so our dance majors can take them during their first year and through their senior year.
April-August 2022: The Working Group, Student Led Ally/Affinity Group, and community check ins started. Meetings for the working group along with closed/open community check ins took place at least once – two times per week over the summer. With the help of Miriam Greenblatt and the whole team at CHREI we started working on a Dance Department focused action statement, core values, and a potential response plan.
August 2022: Orientation Day Planning – Efforts to develop a faculty and student wide EDDI focused orientation was planned at the Sandra Faire Theatre.
September 2022: Orientation Full Day Event at the Sandra Faire Theatre took place. Ella Cooper came to talk about representation in the arts. Faculty taught movement sessions were held, and we discussed the core values as a living document in groups that started a collaborative conversation between faculty, staff, undergraduate, and graduate students. Miriam and CHREI team members came to discuss resources and responses to complaints on this day. During our faculty orientation, we also worked with Ameera in education at the CHREI to discuss how the Core Values can be implemented into the course outlines for faculty that want to align more with EDDI focused curriculum. Additional EDDI workshops took place. Charles Smith and Kevin Ormsby from Cultural Pluralism in the Arts came for two days to give additional EDDI training and this had a movement focus as well.
Truth and Reconciliation Day – This half day event was led by the Ally/Affinity Student Group. A discussion, a film was shown with talkback, and movement outside of the subway station occurred. The Ally/Affinity group has created an Instagram account. https://www.instagram.com/conqueringconversations/
Miriam and Syreeta Hector have been working quite closely to make sure that the students on the second year level know that there are resources and support available to them. The CHREI team has come in to speak directly with the second-year technique classes about York’s resources and answer additional questions that have come up.