Breaking Boundaries, Creating Connections
daCi USA's Fourth National Gathering
July 12-15, 2011
University of North Texas, Denton, TX
By Mary Lynn Babcock, Gathering Chair
The Fourth National Gathering of dance and the Child International USA Chapter was held July 12-15, 2011 at the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas. Through dance taking, dance making, and performance professional dance educators from across the nation and as far away as England engaged students in a unique community environment with classes in choreography, contemporary technique, and varied dance cultural classes such as Folklorica, Korean, African, HipHop Mexican fusion, and Indian Bharatnatyam.
Hosted by the UNT Department of Dance and Theatre, the four-day conference titled “Breaking Boundaries - Creating Connections” brought together multi-generational and multicultural groups to create, perform, teach and observe and share the dance. The conference attracted approximately 200 dance participants from across the country.
We broke boundaries by making the core dance-making classes intergenerational, We created connections in new ways by guiding people to integrate choreography from a variety of cultural dance forms. In all, this conference provided a unique opportunity to work with a diverse community of inspiring teachers, young people, and peers in a non-competitive environment. By the end of the conference, we experienced dance at its best, and we affirmed that dance is vital because we witnessed amazing dances from children as young as 5 through adults.
daCi USA's gathering this summer was filled with a rich variety of classes in different dance genres and dance cultures as well as workshops and activities connecting to storytelling, music, and visual arts. There was an incredible swirl of creative energy and discovery that infused each and every participant during these four days as participants connected with others and discovered more about themselves as dancers and creators of meaningful work. That is the power of dance!
During the conference - on July 14 UNT, in partnership with daCi, provided a Teacher’s Symposium entitled “Crossing Curricular Boundaries Through Dance.” This teacher’s symposium encouraged 21st century skills of collaborative problem solving, higher order thinking, risk-taking and reflective practices. Through hands-on experiential learning and reflection in arts-integrated lessons, participants discovered clear and adaptable strategies for integrating the arts, particularly dance, into the classroom. Facilitators are nationally and internationally acclaimed dance educators Dr. Lynnette Young Overby and Dr. Mila Parrish, and Dr. Sean Tierney from UNT’s Department of Geography.
Internationally known New York-based dance educator, performer, and choreographer William Evans, who has more than 50 years of dance experience, taught one of the multi-generational and technique classes. The opening of the Thursday evening concert began with an exquisite duet entitled “To See The Cherry Hung With Snow” by Jacqueline DePetris in collaboration with her 5 year old daughter Catherine Isabella DePetris. The love and trust danced between mother and daughter reminded me of how powerful dance can be. This reminder came forth with a burning clarity as the concert concluded with Evan’s performance of his solo, “Three Preludes” (2007) -- a powerful conclusion to the evening performances; that dance is infused with life and vibrancy, and that we must dance! Through dance we find our inner strength and connections to others; we find sameness, we find difference, and we celebrate these truths through our dancing. As in all the arts but particularly through dance we are able to contemplate life in ways we do not, we cannot do on a day to day basis. We find we must dance. Kimerer LaMothe, Ph,D. so beautifully states in her article ‘Dance is a Radical Act’:
There is a dancer in each of us, and a dance in everything we do. Once we find that dancing energy, we have the most powerful resource there is for evaluating the impact of the movements we are making in all realms of our lives; for comprehending and empathizing with the pain we are creating in ourselves and others, and for sensing how to move in ways that will better enrich our lives as bodily humans in community on this planet. If we are to survive the 21st century, we must.
LaMothe, Kimerer. 2011. What a Body Knows: Finding wisdom in Desire. To Dance is a Radical Act. psychologytoday.com/blog/what-body-knows/2011.