Perpich News

2024 Minnesota Dance Summit

Participants and presenters for the 2024 Minnesota Dance Summit

February 13, 2024

The 2024 Minnesota Dance Summit brought dance instructors and dancers together at Perpich Center on February 9 & 10, 2024. The summit’s theme was Implicit Bias: Challenges and Gifts in Dance Education and was facilitated by Crystal U. Davis.

This workshop series was an introduction to what implicit bias is, how it relates to and manifests in the work in the field of dance education, and how educators might combat its effects in the work. It is the result of research conducted on the question, “How do our implicit biases affect how we perceive, support, assess, and embody human movement?” While the focus of this workshop was primarily racial bias, it also provided resources to support dance educator examination of other ways in which educators may carry biases in their work. Crystal U. Davis supported the attendees in their work together to be more inclusive teachers.

Mary Harding, Dance Instructor & Education Specialist in Dance, reflected on the experience saying, “I am in awe of the community that we have created in dance education. We had participants from K-12, higher education, private studios, professional companies, and arts organizations. We danced together and learned together. I saw our community interact with the material and our presenter with interest, dedication, and grace. They reflected deeply on their own pedagogical practice as they shared their work.”

Crystal U. Davis, CLMA

Crystal U. Davis, CLMA. is a dancer, movement analyst, and critical race theorist whose work has been renowned by an eclectic community of adjudicators and audiences from Donald McKayle to the royal family of Jodhpur, India. As a performer her work spans an array of genres from modern dance companies including Notes in Motion, to East Indian dance companies including Nayikas Dance Theater Company, to her own postmodern choreography at the Philadelphia Fringe Festival and Dance New Amsterdam. She has performed both her postmodern works and classical and folk forms of India and of the African diaspora and across the country and abroad. Her creative work centers around the incongruities present between our daily behaviors and belief systems. She has conducted ethnographic research in Rajasthan, India on the relationship between religious beliefs and both creative and pedestrian movement.

Her current research explores implicit bias in dance through a critical theory lens and how identity politics of privilege manifests in the body. Some of her publications include “Tendus and Tenancy: Black Dancers and the White Landscape of Dance Education” in the Palgrave Handbook of Race and Arts in Education, “Creating Liberatory Possibilities Together: Reculturing Dance Teacher Certification Through Emergent Strategy, in the Journal of Dance Education, “‘The Blackface Incident’: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Under Fire at a Southern Women’s College.” Confronting Critical Equity and Inclusion Incidents on Campus: Lessons Learned and Emerging Practices, and her book, Dance and Belonging: Implicit Bias and Inclusion in Dance Education. Ms. Davis is also the recipient of the inaugural Andrew W. Mellon Foundation-funded Breaking the Mold Competitive Award.

She served as grant panelist for the South Carolina Arts Council, as board member for the International Somatic Movement Education and Therapy Association, and as founding chair of the National Dance Education Organization’s Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee. Ms. Davis also provides consulting and professional development for state departments of education around the country. Her awards include the National Dance Education Organization’s President’s Commendation for Excellence for Service in the Field and the organization’s Outstanding Leadership award in the area of Justice, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Emory University’s Pioneer Award, and the Texas Woman’s University’s Kitty McGhee Honor for Outstanding Achievement. She has contributed her expertise in dance, equity, education, and somatic movement to the Lincoln Center Institute, the National Association of Independent Schools, and the Arts Schools Network. Ms. Davis earned her B.A. in Religious Studies with a minor in Dance from Emory University, her M.F.A. in Dance from Texas Woman’s University, her Masters in Performance Studies from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, and her Laban-Bartenieff Movement Analysis certification from Integrated Movement Studies.