Facilitated by Royona Mitra, panel members Alexandrina Hemsley, Rob Jones, Seeta Patel and Rajni Shah engage in a public conversation centring their reparative, resistant and holistic anti-racist dance practices. They discuss the structural racism and racist silencing that operates in the contemporary dance sector, and finally reflects on coalitional strategies for moving towards anti-racist and decolonial futures.
The evening was co-curated by Royona Mitra, Simon Ellis, and Arabella Stanger.
This talk was part of Crossing Borders 2019 and was presented in partnership with Sadler’s Wells, and supported by the Society for Dance Research and University of Roehampton. It was also the last event in the Contemporary Dance and Whiteness project at Coventry University, which was supported by the British Academy.
Royona Mitra is an educator and researcher committed to seeking social justice in and through dance practices. She is a Reader in Dance and Performance Cultures at Brunel University London, and works to undo racism in dance in both the academy and the industry.
Alexandrina Hemsley (UK) is a dance artist and writer. Her practice is shaped by and insists on embodied enquiries into a multiplicity of voices expressing felt and embodied politics. She works across the morphing disciplines of live art, dance, dance for camera, theatre, mentoring, creative and critical writing. She is interested in liminal spaces, connectivity, fracturing, displacement and emotionality. She is continually attempting to conjure intersecting, gentle noise amidst oppressive silencing. It is a lifelong project. Her collaborations include Project O with Jamila Johnson-Small (2010 onwards, Sadler’s Wells New Wave Associates) and Seke Chimutengwende (2016 onwards) on Black Holes. Her work has been commissioned by and presented at Sadler’s Wells, Battersea Arts Centre, Southbank Centre, Chisenhale Dance Space and The Yard Theatre amongst others.
Rob Jones is a producer who lives by the sea In Brighton. Rob specialises in cross art form projects, festivals and participatory work. Over the past ten years he has worked with BAC, The Albany, World Stages London, Roundhouse and Brighton Dome and Festival. Rob is currently Festival Producer at Dance Umbrella, the UK’s largest international Contemporary Dance Festival, and is Creative Producer for Brownton Abbey, an independent performance collective which centres queer people of colour, especially those with disabilities.
Seeta Patel began training in 1990 and has since worked with a range of Bharatanatyam and contemporary dance professionals, including Mavin Khoo, Meena Raman and Pushkala Gopal. She has toured with DV8 Physical Theatre, Shobana Jeyasingh Dance Company and David Hughes Dance Company, and presented solo classical work with live music at ROH2, Lilian Baylis Sadler’s Wells and Southbank Centre. She has received awards and bursaries for her creative and professional development including Lisa Ullmann travel scholarship, Bonnie Bird bursary and Best Dance Award Adelaide Fringe 2018. Seeta has collaborated on award-winning shows Sigma with Gandini Juggling and Not Today’s Yesterday with Lina Limosani. She continues to mentor young dancers as her commitment to talent development. Seeta has also reimagined the iconic Rite of Spring for a cast of six talented international Bharatanatyam dancers.
Since 1999, Rajni Shah has worked independently and with other artists to create the conditions for performances, publications, conversations, and gatherings on and off-stage. Key projects – always created alongside and in collaboration with others – include The Awkward Position (2003-4), Mr Quiver (2005-8), small gifts (2006-8), Dinner with America (2007-9), Glorious (2010-12), Experiments in Listening (2014-15), Lying Fallow (2014-15), Song (2016), and Feminist Killjoys Reading Group (ongoing). Rajni is currently working on the unceded lands of the Kanien’kehá:ka Nation at the Acts of Listening Lab, which is situated within Concordia University’s Centre for Oral Histories and Digital Storytelling. In 2019, Rajni’s first monograph will be published as a book and a series of zines within Palgrave’s Performance Philosophy series. www.rajnishah.com
As published in 2019.