Galvanizing Dance Studies: Building Anti-Racist Praxis, Transformative Connections, and Movement(s) of Radical Care


Dance Studies Association 

October 14-17, 2021

Rutgers University/Hyatt Regency

New Brunswick New Jersey, USA

Adanna Kai Jones and Jeff Friedman (program co-chairs), Julia M. Ritter (local arrangements chair)

The DSA 2021 Program Committee collectively re-imagines this international conference as a vessel that builds, explores, collaborates, performs, and agitates current practices within the field(s) of dance. Specifically, as our first COVID-times conference, it is important that our work responds to our current global crises. We imagine this conference as the start of a long process of holding ourselves to account. As dancers/scholars, we can equitably uphold diverse movement(s) of care and connection. From this generative yet fractious position, our theme, "Galvanizing Dance/Studies," calls for dancers, choreographers, activists, curators, pedagogues, technologists, scholars, and those who otherwise engage with dance and movement practices to submit proposals that interrogate the many embodied, disembodied, and colonial laden conversations around the urgent needs of our current moment, by putting theory into action. Knowing that this year's conference format and structures will be curated to expose, dismantle, challenge, and transform white, supremacist practices of convening and assembly, we seek a wide range of critical perspectives and modalities that yield to future propositions, questions, and/or critiques.

As always, DSA welcomes all proposals that address the full spectrum of dance studies and practice. This year, we particularly invite you to consider the multiple ways your work intersects with each of the following sub-themes:


  • Addressing ANTI-[Blackness, Brownness, Asianness, Indigeneity].

  • Acknowledging/reckoning with how existing social/political/economic disparities have been revealed and/or exacerbated during the global pandemic and thus our responsibility/ accountability towards those disparities.


  • Engaging with the precarious position of the body, dance, and dance institutions.

  • Engaging with histories of instabilities, e.g., looking at the ways particular communities and subjectivities have historically navigated instability through embodied practices.


  • Laying bare/re-appropriating terms and uses of technology and technique.

  • Making space for tools and strategies invisibilized by supremacist ideals/value systems, including Black and Global Majority worldviews or alternative concepts of both sustainability and world-building.

  • Challenging what has been legitimized as "technology" and valid "techniques."


  • Sustaining experiences of thriving vis-à-vis virtual exchanges of effort and labor, including energy, touch, sweat, breath, and physical closeness.

  • Building movements across difference, such as coalitional work, or holistic/embodied pedagogies.


  • Examining the precarious position of the body, especially when considering whose bodies are essential and/or disposable vis-à-vis systems of health and care.

  • Addressing interdisciplinary connections between dance/studies and bio-science, and also complementary and alternative non-hegemonic modes of healing versus curing.

  • Critically contemplating ways we engage with & respond to COVID-19, alongside endemic global crises (including Black-death, climate change, and migration/refugee crises).


  • Examining and articulating equitable relations among everyone in the dance field-including practitioners, scholars, activists and those who engage with moving bodies.

  • Shifting the onerous labor of anti-racist praxes from oppressed peoples to those with privilege.

  • Choreographing protest and other forms of civil disobedience.



Hubs: In the spirit of the conference theme and looking toward how we might engage in "galvanization," DSA encourages submissions to a new presentation format:  Hubs are meant to gather individuals around stated conference themes. Groups of 12 are curated by the program committee, meet on all 3 days of the conference, and are open to conference attendees as audience members. Applicants apply individually to participate in a Hub using the submission portal, where they choose sub-themes that best represent their work and answer demographic questions to ensure that each Hub includes presenters from various geographic locations and career trajectories. Hubs will have 1-2 assigned moderators who facilitate the group's development and maintenance; each group will create in-Hub "house rules" to ensure sharing of expertise, collegial exchange, networking, and full engagement. Participants are expected to dive deeply into each other's work, though the way to accomplish this is up to the group. Formats might include:

  • Circulating work before the start of the conference
  • Paper presentations
  • Embodied presentations
  • Lecture-performances
  • Workshops
  • Video presentations
  • Dedicating 20 mins per presenter over the course of the 3 days to be used however each
    presenter chooses
  • Collaborating and creating a performance, paper, manifesto, video, etc. that speaks to all of the group's work
  • Any other format.

Group feedback can also be presented in various formats, from embodied to written and beyond. Participants from each Hub will be asked to provide a brief 3-5 minute report at the final "State of the Field" plenary. Hub participation counts towards a person's singular conference presentation.  

Lightning Sessions: Lightning sessions run 60 minutes, can take a variety of formats, and should include at least three presenters and a moderator/respondent. Formats might include: 

  • Multiple related Ignite or PechaKucha presentations, followed by discussion.

  • Long Table conversations

  • Discussion Groups, for which applicants propose a one-time open discussion that brings participants together to engage with materials (scholarly papers, published books, dance practices or productions) read and/or viewed prior to the conference. 

To propose a lightning session, the organizer should submit a title, an outline of the topic (250 words or less), an explanation of the structure of the session, and names of all participants.

Other proposed presentations, following DSA's guidelines about presentation types, may include Gatherings, Individual Papers, Panels, Lecture/Demonstrations, Movement Workshops, Dance Works (using outdoor or indoor sites) and Screendances. Individual proposals are welcome, but papers that are already grouped-such as Lightning Sessions and Panels-have a higher likelihood of acceptance and are encouraged. Because this conference is privileging intersectional collaborative efforts that feature research from those working across diverse fields, Hub proposals are strongly encouraged and have the highest likelihood of acceptance. Lastly, although the conference will be held on the ground in Brunswick, New Jersey, applicants who cannot attend in person can apply to be part of remote sessions. Indicate remote presentation at the time of submission.

Gatherings: Gatherings run 90 minutes. This format takes a dialogical approach to collective thinking about tools and strategies in dance studies. We welcome proposals from teams of at least five facilitators who will lead discussions with session attendees. One member of the Gatherings group must submit the proposal and submission form, but the names of all members of the Gatherings group must be listed on the submission form. Note: this format replaces DSA's previous "roundtable" format.

Individual Papers: Paper presentations must be based on unpublished research or interpretation and must be designed for oral delivery within 20 minutes, including use of audiovisual aids. Papers running eight double-spaced pages are ideal. The programming committee will arrange individual paper submission into panels of three with a moderator. 

Panels: Panels are 90-minutes in length and should consist of three 20-minute papers or occasionally four 15-minute papers on a related topic and 30 minutes for questions/answers. We also welcome panels that take a delivery response format, in which formal respondents comment on one or two presenters' work. Panel proposals should consist of one document that contains a 150-word summary of the larger panel topic and individual paper proposals as outlined above for each presenter. The title of the proposed panel and the panelists' names should be included in the appropriate fields of the submission form only. Only one member of the panel needs to submit the panel proposal. Proposed panels will not be assigned a moderator. If panels would like a moderator, they may include their own moderator with their proposal if they wish. 

Lecture-Demonstrations: Lecture-Demonstrations may run either 45 or 90 minutes, and should be presentations where spoken and performative aspects are in dialogue (as commentary, illustration, disruption, or otherwise). Proposals should articulate: why the presentation best fits within the lec-dem format; the time requirements and studio/space requirements (specifically whether a studio space is necessary); and the names of all presenters (include performers or demonstration assistants).  If two or more applicants are involved, one person may submit the proposal.

Workshops: Movement workshops may run either 45 or 90 minutes. If two or more applicants are involved, one person may submit the proposal but the names of all presenters (including performers or demonstration assistants) must be listed on the submission form. On the submission form clearly indicate the type of space required (whether the workshop can be held within a conference room or whether a dance/studio space is required) and the recommended attire for participants.  

Dance Works and Screendances: Dance works and screendances should run no more than 12 minutes. Proposals should include a link to a trailer, full work (preferable), or excerpt of the work to be shown. The proposal abstract should articulate the work's research inquiry. Presenters will be grouped into performance panels or screendance showings, depending on the space available at the conference site, and the research inquiry being posed. There will be time for a facilitated Q&A with all of the presenters/performers at the end of the session. It should be noted that there are no submission fees, screening fees, or other fees or revenue for the presentation of dance works or screendances. There is no technical support for dance works. 

FORMAT: All Proposals must include the title of the presentation and an abstract of no more than 250 words that describes the topic, approach, sources and format of your presentation, as well as keywords. Proposals will be anonymously reviewed and therefore names and affiliations of presenters should be omitted from the proposal and indicated only on the online submission form. 


  • Membership Requirement: Only DSA members in good standing are eligible to present at conferences.  Potential presenters may submit a proposal as a non-member, but must be a member of DSA in order to submit a Presenter Acceptance Form. For membership information, visit the Join Us section of our website.

  • Participation Limits: A potential delegate's name may be included on only one proposal submitted to the conference portal, whether as a presenter (including on Hubs, Gatherings, or Lightning sessions) or as moderator. Though some exceptions apply, these are initiated by the program committee (i.e., if invited by the program committee after a panel has been accepted, a delegate may also serve as a moderator on someone else's panel.) A delegate presenting their own work may also serve on an awards panel honoring another scholar.  

  • Graduate & Conference Travel Awards: Graduate students interested in having their submissions considered for the Selma Jeanne Cohen Award, or in applying for a Graduate Student Travel Award, can submit as a part of conference submissions.  Individuals interested in submitting for a Conference Fellowship for Contingent Faculty/Independent Scholars, can submit as a part of conference submissions. Consult the Awards page for more information.

  • Remote Participation: Participants may apply to present remotely - indicating at the time of submission - and will be curated with other remote presentations. Curation of these Zoom events will depend upon how many applicants, types of applicants, and length of presentations.  Remote presentation will require DSA membership-in-good-standing and virtual registration.  If a paper is accepted for presentation in-person at the conference, only the author of the paper may deliver the presentation. Remote requests for these can be considered on a case-by-case basis (generally for those from regions that prohibit travel to the conference location, or due to health or other personal or global emergencies). If you want to propose a hybrid in-person/virtual event, you will note this upon submission.  In this case, the in-person presenter will be in charge of all technology and logistics for the virtual presenter. 

Note about DSA Working Groups: At each conference, ongoing DSA Working Groups meet immediately before the conference starts to discuss a particular topic. Currently, there are working groups in: Dance and Music; Dance and Technology; Dance History Teachers; Dancing the Long Nineteenth Century; Dismantling White Supremacy in Dance Studies; Early Dance; Latin American, Latinx, and Caribbean Dance Studies; Popular, Social, and Vernacular; Practice as Research; and Students . Each Working Group is asked to contribute a 10-minute presentation to a "Working Group Lightning Session" at the annual conference, articulating a vibrant question or other vital issue the group is addressing.  If you wish to join an ongoing Working Group, contact its organizer HERE . If you wish to propose a new Working Group, or for additional information about WG requirements, visit our website HERE.

Abstract Submissions will be accepted until February 15, 2021 at 11:59pm midnight CST.  Decisions will be announced in late April. Accepted presenters will need to confirm their attendance (and update membership status) by June 30, 2021.

Questions or concerns:

Lizzie Leopold, Executive Director: