The Collegium for African Diaspora Dance (CADD) is an egalitarian community of scholars and artists committed to exploring, promoting, and engaging African diaspora dance as a resource and method of aesthetic identity. CADD’s second Dancing the African Diaspora Conference conference aims to re-ignite the discourse on defining Black Dance on a global scale by bringing together scholars, practitioners, educators, and other stakeholders for three days of intellectual and artistic inspiration.
We invited Dancing While Black Fellows Candace Thompson and Sydnie L. Mosley to share reflections from this conference experience. Here are Candace’s reflections from the second day of the gathering.
After a very full, almost bursting day of panels, workshops and performances, the overarching theme emerges: We are reaffirming the present and our present work as a way to ensure and embody the AFROFUTURE.
- The opening plenary panel with Kariamu Welsh, Yvonne Daniel, Naomi Johnson-Diouf, Assane Konte and Ausetta Amor Amenkum reminds us that all African/Diasporic Dance forms as they are taught and practised now are contemporary because they have been removed from their cultural context. So this persistent focus on nostalgia isn’t actually helpful to our progression.
- My next workshop in Umfundalai Technique reinforces this fact in that it is a Contemporary African Technique and studio practice. Its structure offers a built-in framework for the reimagining of African concepts and symbols on new bodies.
- During a lunch meetup, A. Nia Austin Edwards and Takiyah Nur Amin address what happens when liberated Black women lead. Our conversation underscores the acceptance and validation of our present work and accomplishments as tools to ensure our survival and future success.
- niv acosta, an artist featured on the midday plenary panel, admits to ensuring the continuity of his work by tapering his anger and rage of the present. acosta focuses on taking up space (literal and metaphorical) as a way to give us (people of color) more visibility.
I found last panel, which focused on Caribbean and Afro-Latinx discourse particularly engaging, as it shed light on the complexities of Caribbean Diaspora Culture and the nuances of how it is enjoyed, discussed, manipulated and commercialised. I implicate myself here as a practitioner of contemporary Caribbean Dance – both Soca Dance and Caribbean-informed dances for the concert dance stage – to be responsible for its representation. I am a part of the fabric of present day Caribbean Culture. This role cannot be take lightly.
The day ends with skillful and well crafted performances, which include work from Dancing While Black Fellows Orlando Hunter and Ricarrdo Valentine, and with joyous celebration and dancing.
After all the musing and discussing and analyzing, the human-ness of all of us here is the most inspiring.
Our ability to gather and feel and experience is paramount to our Futuring. I leave feeling dense, almost armed with a renewed sense of constitution and strength. Here we go…
About The Collegium for African Diaspora Dance (CADD)
The Collegium for African Diaspora Dance (CADD) is an egalitarian community of scholars and artists committed to exploring, promoting, and engaging African diaspora dance as a resource and method of aesthetic identity. Through conferences, roundtables, publications and public events, we aim to facilitate interdisciplinary inquiry that captures the variety of topics, approaches, and methods that might constitute Black Dance Studies. A diverse gathering of dance scholars and community members, The Collegium for African Diaspora Dance was conceptualized by its founding members and first convened in April 2012 as the African Diaspora Dance Research Group at Duke University. Learn more at cadd-online.org.