Dance Tank Meetings

Choreographies of Access: Global dances, Local Knowledges, (Mis)Translated Bodies, May 2-4, 2011

Description: Choreographies of Access: Global Dances, Local Knowledges, (mis)translated Bodies is a three-day exploration of contemporary international choreographic practices through performances by Sheron Wray and Nunu Kong, followed by a discussion between them and University of California, Riverside Dance Faculty members. Choreographies of Access is a collaboration between the Culver Center of the Arts Performance Series and the UCR-BYPED Dance Tank Meetings, supported by UCR Gluck Program for the Arts and the UCR Department of Dance.

May 2, 2011 | 8:00 PM Ritual Remix: The Etutu Project
Sheron Wray continues her investigation into forms of improvisation; engaging aesthetic theories derived from West African performance spectacles. A site- specific performance followed by a showing of archival video from Guinea Conakry.

May 3, 2011 | 8:00 PM Dance and Performance Underground in China
A video lecture and site specific performance by Nunu Kong addressing her project brand nu Dance and the challenge of imagining and creating art from scratch in China.

May 4, 2011 | 5:00 PM Dance Tank Discussion
Join Sheron Wray, Nunu Kong, and faculty members of the UCR Department of Dance for a discussion on Dance Tank.

Sheron Wray is an artist whose primary focus is dance. This is often in conjunction with other creative forces, music and technology being key. She is a choreographer, dancer and researcher who takes an exceptional interest in Jazz as a fueling agent to developing her work and philosophy.

From 1995 to 2004 nunu kong (Wu Yandan) attended the Beijing Dance Academy including a special 4-year program created by Yang Mei Qi in Guangdong to major in Contemporary Dance Choreography and Performance. Upon graduation she joined the Jin Xing Dance Company in Shanghai for one year and concurrently co-founded the performing collective Zuhe Niao. The collective went on to perform in many european theaters and took home the ZKB prize at the Theater Spektakel Festival in Switzerland with their piece, Tongue’s Memory of Home.

Choreographies of Access: Global dances, Local Knowledges, (Mis)Translated Bodies, Jan 31-Feb 3, 2011

Description: This first “Choreographies of Access” aims to gain a better understanding of how access to the global cultural market, as object of consumption, frames what counts as global South ‘traditional’ culture, as well as who qualifies as a ‘traditional’ artist. Our point of departure is that although ‘traditions’ are the products of nation-states’ efforts at creating cohesive cultural representations and senses of belonging, their legitimacy and value in the postcolony depends on their often disembodied global circulation. By resorting to an analysis of worth and value, and its associations with scarcity, we begin to speculate on how creativity and innovation affect in contrasting, disparate ways the production of embodied‘traditions’ in the global South and the uses of ‘traditional’ forms In World Dance and World Music. We call attention to the reification of ‘traditions’ (as disembodied objects) and their valorization when ready for abundant, mass consumption, as we notice that their value when identified in the postcolony is associated with rarity—making them worth keeping (collecting and transmitting). In these complex operations, ‘native’ producers/practitioners of ‘traditions’ become abstract labor, and ‘traditions’ migrate—disembodied and appropriated by cosmopolitan artists—as sources of inspiration. We aim to analyze specific politico-aesthetic tactics employed by ‘native’ artists of embodied ‘traditions’ (dance, music, song, etc.) who attempt to interrupt this displaced recycling of global South ‘traditions’ and to partake of mobility in globalization, as they reclaim a counter-exotic space in global culture where innovation and tradition can coexist.  Artist/scholars Diyah Larasati and Setyastuti (Utik) are brought to UCR, simultaneously, to workshop, present, and discuss with faculty and students their collaborative works on "Choreographies of Access".

Setyastuti  (Utik), choreographer, dancer, and a professor in dance specializing in “contemporary” choreography at the Institute of the Arts Yogyakarta (ISI) Indonesia. Utik was born and grew up in the Javanese Yogyakarta Palace, where she started dancing at a very early age with many master teachers from the traditional dance court of Java. She also attended the Arts Institute of Yogyakarta (ISI) where she began to study dance composition. She won many awards, prizes, and national recognition, becoming one of the prominent leading female choreographers of contemporary work in Indonesia.  As an Indonesian, Muslim choreographer, her creative work mostly responds to the issues of women and state, social stigma, female court culture, and also ronggeng (a genre of dance performed by women on the streets of Indonesia).  Utik is famous for her brave innovation mediating women and unfamiliar discourse within the Javanese context, such as dancing with her own baby on-stage, and other dance elements often considered taboo.


Diyah Larasati, Assistant Professor in Dance at the University of Minnesota, dancer and scholar from Indonesia, is currently working on a research project exploring the Global South cultural aesthetic representation in relation to cultural exchange on the global stage. Through cultural missions, migrations, and tourism, she explores the ‘dancing National’ in response to neoliberal inclusions of the minority subject within globalization. Larasati crafts her writing projects within discursive practices through intensive attention to embodied dance technique, transmission, and consumption, and the possibility to navigate its position through seduction of mobility. As a dancer of traditional Indonesian dance, mediation and critical inquiry of staging bodies of war, and its catalyst, have been crucial in her ongoing investigation. Therefore, inquiry of post-colonialism, diaspora, gender politics and the notion of citizenship strongly mark her scholarship. Larasati also looks at how the figure of “Muslim Women” is an object of rescue humanitarian politics, salvation in the West while continuously erased in the formation of state in the Global South (funded in part by U of Minnesota, CSA 2010, International Collaborative Project with University of the Philippines, University of Malaya and the Asia Scholarship Fellowship).

As a methodology she has collaborated with Indonesian choreographer Setyastuti to create performances mediating a critical inquiry into the violence narrative, its politics of representation, and the ongoing investigation of traditions in nationalized forms.  Thus far, these collaborations have resulted three choreographic projects, “Talk to the Wall” (2008: Sponsored by the French Cultural Center and the Center for History and Political Ethics Sanatadharma University, ISI Yogyakarta and U of Minnesota),  “Dancing the Violent Body of Sound” (2009: Sponsored by Institute for Advanced Studies U of M),  and “Terbangan” (2010: Consortium Study for the Asias and Institute of the Arts Yogyakarta)