Danco’s work has been selected for a conference De-Colonising tertiary dance education – Act Now, organised by Stockoholm University(Sweden), and Makerere University(Uganda) 7-9.4.22.
Heidi Seppälä(FI) and Shyrine Ziadeh(Palestine) will create a text & movement dialogue on dancing in the midst of occupation. Emmanuel Ndefo is organising a roundtable discusssion with movement, on the topic of discrimination in contemporary dance culture, and the whole group will create a “dance moment”, a dancevideo for screening and discussion for the conference. Video will be created in several countries and edited together.
Global Language, Western dance (Emmanuel Ndefo)
Abstract: This Panel will use my experience with a famous European dance Academy, where I auditioned for a Master’s program in contemporary dance Education, to spark a conversation about the need to theorize contemporary dance outside the Euro-American canons. At the end of the audition process I got an email from the school that said:
“Dear Mr. Emmanuel, we love what you do, it’s fun, raw and energetic, we love the way you used the students and the space. But we are sorry to say that this is not contemporary dance. There’s no technique. We like your style so much and deliberated if we can take you into this program, but this would mean that we would have to create a new category for you. And we are not able to do that at the moment. We wish you the best in your future career”
Dance – a Universal Language?
– Teaching ballet in occupied territories of Palestine (Heidi Seppälä & Shyrine Ziadeh)
In 2019 I was working in Ramallah Ballet Center in Palestine, teaching ballet for children.
This three months period was a part of a larger project with Shyrine Ziadeh, with an aim of bridging European and Palestinian dance practitioners, and many questions were raised about exporting hegemonised dance styles to subjugated communities. For many dance scholars, myself included, classical ballet carries harmful parasitic substances, such as the illusion of hyperfeminine lightness, pressures of appearance and racial segregation. A dance genre in which the traditional glorification of a lean, long, and caucasian body has persistently remained an essential part of aesthetics felt like a problematic export element.
As a European dance artist and dance researcher, navigating creative intercultural projects carries hope of embodied dialogue, but in subjugated communities, collaboration and exchange of experiences can easily slip into a one-sided export of know-how, leaving the local voice unheard. Thus, identifying an anti-hegemonic goal alone will not go far if insidious hegemony infiltrates the project with colonized communities in circumstances where the surrounding socio-political upheavals have severely disrupted the imitation mechanisms of indigenous cultures (Rowe 2008).
My article “There’s no human rights here” dealing with these issues and was recently published in a Finnish Dance Publication Liikekieli https://www.liikekieli.com/theres-no-human-rights-here/
I would like to propose to present this article in dialogue with Shyrine Ziadeh (in English). This will be a paper based on a conversational letter swapping in between us two, concentrating on her aims with Ramallah Ballet Center (creating autonomous and self-referential cultural environment in which cultural systems can promote pluralism within cultural globalization while remaining self- accepting) in a community that has gone through a traumatic cultural history.
Moment of Dance (Heidi Seppälä, Shyrine Ziadeh, Emmanuel Ndefo, Kavya Iyer, Jalmari Nummiluikki)
Our dance moment is inspired by western dance historians’ and anthropologists’ outrageous definitions of “primitive/ethnic dance”. We will use these as a script for our short dance film which is asking what is this contemporary dance’s paradoxal ‘search for authenticity’ which makes it so high in value, what is “to be authentic” in movement, and why is western dancers presumed authenticity seen more prestigious than non-western dancers presumed authenticity in Europe?
See video here: https://youtu.be/vRnnhx1Nep0