This weekend took me to North Carolina to attend the Collegium of African Diaspora Dance at Duke University. The university itself is steeped in history. The campus was largely designed by Julian Abele, one of the first prominent African-American architects, and the university was one of the first to open their doors to women, in 1900, to study on an equal footing with men. This provided the perfect setting for my lecture on Black Women in Dance, highlighting Black British women from administrators and directors to choreographers and dancers who have shape the dance ecology in the UK.
The Collegium for African Diaspora Dance (CADD) is a network of academics and artists committed to exploring, promoting and engaging African diaspora dance. The weekend of events featured workshops, lectures, performances and discussions, providing the perfect opportunity to meet both new and familiar faces.
At the conference I had the opportunity to see a workshop led by Léna Blou, a Guadeloupian practitioner whose work may be familiar to those who have read Gladys M. Francis’ paper in Creolizing Dance in a Global Age.
I also had chance to catch up with L’Antoinette Stines, ahead of Let’s Dance International Frontiers. L’Antoinette filled me in with the details of her forthcoming workshops in May, and I can say that the participants will be in for a real insight into L’Antech and providing a more global context to dance from the African and African Caribbean Diaspora.
CADD also featured presentations from familiar faces; Adesola Akinleye presented an insight into her forthcoming publication Narratives in Black British Dance: Embodied Practices, ahead of its official launch this Saturday, and I also bumped into Denise Saunders Thompson from IABD, and Tommy D. Frantz from Duke University.
The conference keynote was delivered by Brenda Dixon Gottschild. Brenda’s work might be familiar to LDIF audiences, having featuring in Black Ballerina, and her talk “Challenges, Chances and Changes – An object lesson in reclaiming my time” was filled energy and movement. A true embodiment of over five decades of work and practice bringing discussions around racism, gender, and societal questions to the forefront.
The weekend proved to be a great opportunity for everyone to come together in an insightful discourse around Black dance.