Panel Discussions

Groups of three or more individual presenters may propose a panel presentation of 90 minutes. Panelists may allocate the time as they see fit for the purposes of their panel, but any question and answer time must be included in the 90 minute allocation.

Panel presentations will occur Tuesday, July 28 @ 1:30 pm - 3:00 pm


"Utilizing Social Psychosomatic Inquiry Approaches and LMA as Tools in Embodied Qualitative Research and Somatic Portraiture"
Art Auditorium

This panel discussion will involve an interactive performative research presentation by the participating panelists, followed by a panel discussion focused on the topics brought forward in the research demonstration. The performative portion of the session will involve the weaving together of somatic research, narrative scholarship, and movement performance in order to demonstrate how social psychosomatic inquiry approaches, bodily-grounded metaphors, and Laban Movement Analysis might be utilized together as tools in embodied qualitative research, phenomenological inquiry, and somatic portraiture. Attention will be drawn to ways in which cultural spaces and one’s embodiment of place can shape the somatic narratives and structures through which one engages with the world.

Two university dance and somatic movement professors will be joined by graduate students from their program in a moving dialogue and collective narrative illustrating the processes and outcomes of the social psychosomatic research they conducted. The session will bring to light how qualitative research can be approached through investigations of bodily-grounded linguistic metaphors and imagistic sensate body mapping processes. The performative research composite will draw from individual and collaborative social psychosomatic research studies conducted by the panelists that have been shaped by ideas from phenomenology, somatic epistemology and practice, Laban Movement Analysis, Jungian theory, action research, sociological aesthetics, somatic ethnography and autoethnography, narrative scholarship, and portraiture.

The ideas of George Lakeoff and Mark Johnson (The Metaphors We Live By and Philosophy in the Flesh), as well as Stanely Keleman (Myth and the Body and Emotional Anatomy) will create a philosophical lens for understanding processes of exploring, observing, analyzing, and interpreting movement in embodied qualitative research. The performative presentation and panel discussion will illuminate how social psychosomatic movement analysis theories and processes can be implemented in diverse contexts for somatic inquiry and broad fields of application; for example, research involving investigations of personal artistic processes; interpretations and meanings of body attitudes; language and patterning; practices of somatic ethnography or autoethnography; and explorations of the embodiment of identity, somatic expression, psychophysical relationships, embodied knowledge, and somatic aesthetics. Dialogue will suggest how such factors have been fashioned by sociocultural thought and personal somatic experience informed by one’s experiences of space, place and relationship.

Examples of both descriptive and prescriptive uses for social psychosomatic/movement analysis research approaches will be demonstrated in “real time” through the interactive voices of movers, observers, analysts, and interpreters. The faculty presenters will assume the vocal roles of narrators, or meta-interpreters, as they deconstruct and explain what is happening during the performative presentation from philosophical and theoretical points of view. Thus, the presentation could be seen as a multifaceted, multileveled performance of creative qualitative research and somatic ethnography. Following the interactive performative research presentation, the panelists will discuss specific strategies for their embodied research and the resultant findings from them. The session will conclude with a group discussion on how social psychosomatic approaches, bodily-grounded metaphors, imagistic sensate body mapping processes, and Laban Movement Analysis constructs might be utilized in a variety of qualitative research practices.

Becky Dyer, PhD, MFA, MS, CLMA, is an associate dance professor at Arizona State University where she teaches dance pedagogy, somatics, Laban/Bartenieff Praxis, movement analysis, and movement practices. Becky holds a secondary dance education certification, and is a Laban-Bartenieff Movement Analyst (CLMA) and ISMETA registered somatic movement therapist (RSMT). Her research focuses on somatic epistemology and research, and somatic, transformative, constructivist and liberatory teaching perspectives. Becky’s research has been published in Research in Dance Education, Journal of Dance and Somatic Practices, Journal of Aesthetic Education, Somatics Magazine/Journal, Journal of Dance Education, and several books.

Grace Gallagher is a MFA Candidate at Arizona State University where she teaches as a graduate teaching assistant.

Emily May is a MFA in Dance candidate at ASU. She is originally from Orem, Utah and received her BFA with a Ballet emphasis from Utah Valley University. Emily has performed and taught many different dance genres such as ballet, modern, jazz, ballroom and hip-hop. Her choreography has been presented at the Orpheum Theater in Phoenix, Arizona, the Rose Wagner Theater in SLC, Utah and Dance Place Blackbox in Washington DC. Emily recently began working with video and created a video documentary that can be seen on Vimeo titled, “Duet: Empowered Pregnancy Through Dance.” Emily currently enjoys working in a collaborative effort with dancers and musicians to create works for the stage and video.


"Traversing and Transforming Space through Dance in the 21st Century"
Spalding Hall Auditorium

Through lived experience and applied critical theory, this panel utilizes dance studies as an approach to analyze spaces of invisibility, transformation, inclusivity, liminality, and proxemics within diverse dance communities.

Robin Conrad - Let’s Go! Across The Floor! Rethinking the Studio Space in Ryan Heffington’s Sweaty Sundays
Los Angeles-based choreographer Ryan Heffington (famed for the Sia video “Chandelier”) has created a dance community existing at the intersection between concert and commercial dance, between dance class as group exercise and dance class as self-expression, between the outrageous and the ecstatic. Through an ethnographic exploration of his popular Sweaty Sundays classes, this research explores the Heffington phenomenon and asks what his approach might mean for the larger dance community.

Mila Thigpen - The Nutcracker:  A Pedagogical Space for Ethnic Studies
The Nutcracker ballet (1892), since its U.S. premiere in 1944, has been integrated into the culture of the United States as an iconic marker of the national holiday season. In the second act of this fairy tale known as the “Land of Sweets,” short dances depict various national and ethnic stereotypes. These dances depict images of chocolate from Spain, coffee from Arabia, and tea from China and each portrays a dominant American ideology about the cultures they represent, thus perpetuating problematic stereotypes through these continuous reconstructions seen by each new generation of children. Although The Nutcracker’s second act is an example of stereotypes reified through dance, these dances, if revised, can intervene by reimagining cultural representation. I propose in this paper that there can be an interdisciplinary examination of how these dances might also broaden the discourse on The Nutcracker’s ethnic representations. This expanded conversation, inclusive of multiple perspectives on the Nutcracker’s problematic representation, consequently reveals greater possibilities for how scholarly theories can reimagine choreographic processes and vice versa. This connection between theory and practice, or praxis, can also become a space or, in the words of arts educator Elizabeth Ellsworth, a “pedagogical pivot” for eradicating The Nutcracker’s perpetuated stereotypes of marginalized cultures. Therefore, this paper investigates how dance can intersect pedagogically with ethnic studies through The Nutcracker in order to transform future productions into “edutainment.”

Melanie Anastacia Van Allen - Bolivian Tinku: Asserting Continuity, Dance as a Third Space
To guarantee a fruitful harvest the Indigenous farmers of Northern Bolivia engage in a ritual battle called Tinku, where sacrificial blood shed for Pachamama (Mother Earth) will ensure an abundant crop. Stemming from this, a dance form also called Tinku references the fighting techniques from the ritual. When performed at Carnaval, the Tinku, as dance, creates a third space addressing the complex relationship between the Indigenous and Non-Indigenous populations of Bolivia. The moving bodies function as a site of autonomy and their unremitting forward movement asserts the Indigenous existence and its continuity.

Lyn C. Wiltshire - The Invisible Space of Dance Leadership
A look into the invisibility of leaders of color in dance is multi-layered and deeply rooted in the fabric of society and is related to issues of race, ethnicity, and gender equality. An investigation of the overall tapestry also requires specific examination of the threads connected to how race and gender affect perceptions, how race and gender are enacted, and how leaders of color grapple with societal realities of race and gender in diverse spaces.

Robin Conrad is a Los Angeles based concert and commercial choreographer, dance educator, and scholar. Robin has choreographed for television, stage, and film including multiple projects with director Sofia Coppola. She has trained prominent actors to dance and collaborated with visual artists such as world-renowned photographer Philip Lorca diCorcia. She has been profiled by The Jerusalem Post and The DanceOn Channel as well as mentioned in the New York Times Magazine, Interview, British Vogue and Focus. In the last few years Robin was an Artist-in-Residence at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles and also lectured, presented choreography and taught master classes at conferences worldwide. Robin is certified in Gyrokinesis, Pilates and yoga. Robin holds a BA in Dance from UC Irvine and an MFA from CalArts. She is an Associate Professor of Dance at Fullerton College and a PhD student at Texas Woman’s University.

Boston-based teaching artist Mila Thigpen is a graduate of Kenyon College (BA), The Boston Conservatory (MFA), Harvard University (EdM), and the Emerging Leaders Program at University of Massachusetts Boston. Mila has coordinated a Fulbright exchange in the Netherlands and is an alumna of the Choreographer’s Lab at Jacob’s Pillow. Her faculty appointments include Boston Ballet, Cambridge Rindge & Latin School, Tufts University, and Artistic Director of AileyCamp Boston through Celebrity Series. Having been described as a “lively dancer” by the Boston Globe, Mila has performed for a variety of dance companies and choreographers including Seán Curran, Germaul Barnes, Arthur Aviles, Aszure Barton, ANIKAI Dance, KAIROS Dance Theater, and MetaMovements Latin Dance Company. Currently, Mila is a doctoral student in dance studies at Texas Woman’s University. Her scholarly interests include dance ethnology, dance pedagogy, and critical race theory.

Melanie Anastacia Van Allen is a New York City based choreographer, dancer, educator and scholar of dance. She is currently a doctoral student in the Dance Studies Ph.D. program at Texas Woman’s University. Melanie holds a Masters of Arts in Performance Studies New York University-Tisch School of the Arts, a Masters of Fine Arts in Dance Choreography/Performance from the University of Michigan, where she was awarded the Julian and Vera McIntosh Memorial Fellowship Award and a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Dance Choreography/Performance from Ohio State University. Melanie’s choreography has been performed internationally and her scholarly endeavors encompass her passion for dance and choreography by investigating the intersections between the practical and theoretical. Currently, her academic interests include: electronic music and dance culture of Detroit, Fordism, theoretical choreographic research, dance ethnography, cultural studies, Indigenous studies, Dances from Bolivia, and interdisciplinary methodologies of research and performance.

Lyn C. Wiltshire is progressively discovering herself as an educator, consultant, and steward for best practices in movement education. Lyn is the Division Head of Performance and as the Head of Dance and Pedagogy Programs at the University of Texas at Austin as well, she has had ample opportunities to merge her interests as a choreographer, master teacher, and movement educator. She investigates alternative movement therapies and learning behavior theories, e.g., multiple intelligences, and through this research she is able to question and develop additional study and training methods in dance, to include her interest in exploring the relationships between physical characteristics and how a student learns and practices movement. As a Fulbright Senior Specialist, Lyn’s additional research interest includes race, gender and leadership of color in dance in the US and abroad.