Dismantling White Supremacy Culture in Dance Studies

Chair: Nyama McCarthy-Brown ([email protected]) & Takiyah Nur Amin ([email protected])

This working group was created as a space to share resources pursuant to issues of multiculturalism, inclusion and diversity in dance curricula in higher ed.

We, the former members of the DSA Diversity Working Group have determined it best to change our name to the Dismantling White Supremacy Culture in Dance Studies Working Group. We made the shift because we understand that institutional policies, practices, and structures that activate and enshrine Whiteness as dominant are oppressive to the living, working, and learning conditions that operate in dance as a field, and in global societies at large. We identify Whiteness as structural arrangements that uphold a Eurocentric culturally specific hegemony that supports heteronormativity, ableism, racism, sexism, nationalism, xenophobia, and normative bodies. We acknowledge that individuals may participate in, reproduce and uphold white supremacy culture unwittingly, as a result of their allegiance to normative structures and practices in the field.  In our efforts to protect, preserve, and promote identities, dance forms, cultures, people, and bodies, we hereby commit to interrogating said structures for the purpose of exposing their harm and offering a spectrum of viable and equitable alternatives.    

For decades, “multiculturalism” has been a stated goal of dance departments in higher education institutions across the nation and abroad. Many colleges and universities express a commitment to diversity, yet curriculum focus and student outcomes have often demonstrated a clear Euro-centrism. The desire to “embrace multiculturalism” is often not enough in itself to impact an infrastructure derived from Western-focused standards.

This working group continues the dialogue and sharing that began in November of 2011 at a working session hosted by Brown and Amin entitled Leaping Into the 21st Century: Re-visioning Cultural Diversity Through Music & Dance Curricula at the Congress on Research in Dance Annual Conference in Philadelphia, PA. The session was centered on issues of multiculturalism in dance curriculums and how to best address the needs of 21st century students, all of whom are living in intensely globalized worlds. We were clear that no longer does it suffice to include a lecture on “Black Performance” or offer an “Asian-influenced” creative work as a part of our dance courses. Rather, dance programs are expected to integrate cultural relevancy throughout our curriculum choices, pedagogy practices, and course selections.

Participants are encouraged to consider developing and implementing anti-racist, inclusive practices at all levels of our programs, including: the audition/admissions process, curriculum design (both departmental and course specific), pedagogy, and productions. Collaboration, dialogue, and integration will be our guiding values in this working group.

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