Dance and the Poetics of Diaspora – Facing Outward
How might the embodied poetics of diaspora and its skins talk back to the increasingly clear and ongoing violences of colonialism? We know that the embodied experience of diaspora has much to tell us about better directions towards which we might collectively move. Etymologically denoting a scattering and dispersal, “diaspora” names the distances memory and bodies traverse to find a sense of home after displacement. Together we will call on the diasporic dance artistry and experience with particular gratitude to the practice of diaspora offered by histories of black expressive culture. We hold sacred space primarily for self-identified BIPOC+ artists.
While diasporic loss -the loss of homeland, the loss of language, the loss of community, or the loss of culture -might motivate projects of national consolidation, definition, and exclusion, we are more interested in investigating what the scholar Nadia Ellis calls the “queer elsewhere of diaspora.” For Ellis, the queer elsewhere of diaspora emerges in “diasporic aesthetics and subjectivity [that respond to] a persistence sense of the insufficiency of existing modes of belonging.” The practices of a queer elsewhere “are powerful in the potential to which they give rise, a potential that suspends rather than resolves at the arrival at some new and satisfying space of exile.”
Through guided exercises and group shares, participants will excavate their own personal archives of diaspora, whether those are stories, images, movement practices, cultural traditions, or simply a desire to be with other exilic dreamers to collectively explore what diaspora’s elsewhere has to offer dance in a politically fraught contemporary moment.
Thomas F. DeFrantz: Professor of Theatre and Performance studies at Northwestern University
Dahlia (Dixon) Li: Artist and doctoral candidate at the University of Pennsylvania