Donna Mejia is the first tenured professor of Transnational/transcultural fusion dance globally, and Director of Graduate Studies in Dance at the University of Colorado, Boulder. She began teaching dance professionally at the age of 16, received her undergraduate education in Business from CU Boulder, and her MFA in Dance from Smith College on full fellowship. She has passionately enjoyed her adventures in teaching, performing, choreographing, directing, and learning all over the globe, and is devoted to the study of movement and non-verbal intelligences across human populations. Donna is an affiliate faculty member in both Women and Gender Studies, and Ethnic Studies. She is also trained as an ethnomusicologist and sewist. She is the 2011 winner of the Selma Jeanne Cohen honor in International Dance Scholarship, the first transnational fusion choreographer of an off-Broadway production in NYC, and the first to perform this genre of dance at the venerated Kennedy Center and Apollo Theatre. She is mother to an extraordinary daughter and an avid volunteer for human and animal healing efforts. Updates can be found at donnainthedance.com.
Keynote Lecture: An Introduction to Orientalism, Post-Colonial Studies and Critical Race Theory
Educator and scholar Edward Said rocked the world of academia in 1978 by revealing the West’s distorted perceptions of the East. Facing vigorous resistance, his elegant writing ignited incredible discourse and instigated the creation of entire new fields of study. In this lecture and discussion seminar, we take the beautiful theories he asserted out of the ivory tower and into our dance world to examine current practices and perceptions. After almost 30 years of theoretical development, Said’s ideas continue to be pivotal and relevant. This is your invitation to get acquainted with his work, and learn more about how these crucial concepts can inform your participation in a frequently contested and misconstrued art form.
Le Fonk Arabi
Each year, artists in Near Eastern and North African countries remix our own American hip hop traditions to new heights and possibilities. Arabic Hip Hop is arguably a counter-manifestation to the West's Tribal Fusion. In this workshop Donna Mejia highlights the emerging movement aesthetics of this dynamic dialog. After a vigorous warm up and substantial stretching, dancers will receive a variety of stationary and moving progressions that punctuate the percussiveness in music driven by beats. Dance/athletic shoes, a long sleeve shirt and knee pads may be helpful on occasion. Donna’s musical playlist includes some of the best Arabic/International Funk, Hip Hop, Hard Core, House, Liquid, Phaze, Elemental, Mashup, and Electronica in the universe!
Broken Glass on the Path: Developing a Movement Practice When Impacted or Compromised
Requirements: folding chairs, yoga mats, tennis balls, a belt or strap, a towel
Injury, discomfort, chronic illness and physical compromise do not have to “bench” dancers from practicing. This workshop welcomes dancers who have experienced some level of neurological, chemical, cognitive or physical impact interfering with their dance aspirations. We will have a surprisingly vigorous, whole body Tribal Fusion practice from a chair, learning to identify safe ranges of motion and support bodily regions that may not have full capacity. The idea is not to grieve what is impacted, but to ignite curiosity for what we can feel, because there are inevitable gifts to be harvested from any kind of movement. Whether you identify yourself as an enthusiast, recreationalist, or professional, pursuing somatic ease and growth doesn’t have to wait for the “ideal” body to arrive. Let’s get to work with what we have going for us right now. REQUIRED: A sense of adventure complimented in equal parts by a sense of humor. Please bring your questions and notebooks.
Keynote Lecture: Courageous Conversations in the Midst of Cultural Collision
Despite the media’s portrayal of the world as a very polarized and damaged place, there are many extraordinary people quietly building a society that prizes inclusiveness. There is always room for more additions to this global family of healers, so please come join the conversation. We’ll be reviewing recent developments in anti-bias work and scholarship, and examining what we can do as individuals and a community to increase peaceful coexistence. Fusion dance was just the beginning of the important work we’ve started in the world as artists. Ally-ship takes many forms and is never a one-size-fits-all solution. Yet each courageous act of fellowship, no matter how large or small, is meaningful. Please don’t underestimate how your choices disrupt social bias and can tip the scales for a fellow human whom may feel demoralized and disenfranchised. Interestingly, you may find that you always get back more than you give. This workshop will explore definitive steps to move beyond “paralyzed empathy;” becoming effective as a listener, and act thoughtfully in our support of comrades. The inevitability of our global citizenship mandates we set a seat at our table for other world-views and voices. Do you really wish to make a difference? Please come join a conversation that is already in progress on an international level. Your contributions and thoughts will make it better for all.