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Workshop: Devise Pedogogy in Collaborative Cross – Boundary Music & Dance with Nicole Wesley & Christopher Smith

Nicole Wesley, Associate Professor
Texas State University, USA

Christopher Smith, Professor, Chair of Musicology, and director of the Vernacular Music Center
Texas Tech University, USA

The presenters collaborate on workshops and teaching experiences focused upon interdisciplinary Arts Practice Research scholarship and pedagogy, emphasizing collaborative encounters across art forms, modes of expression, and cooperating universities. We develop techniques for creating, learning, and teaching within the liminal “in-between” creative space that arises from thoughtful engagement across the borders between; music, dance, and theater; modern/experimental and vernacular/indigenous traditions; theory and practice; historical and political consciousness and engagement; music, movement, and expression. All yield student-centered experiences of shared community empowerment. This workshop will center upon techniques which maximize the effective usage of collaborative Devised practices to generate original sound-and-movement which in turn becomes the raw material for performance pieces. Utilizing verbal and visual prompts, contact partnering, free sound-improvisation, and—especially—the integration of both contemporary and vernacular stylistic “accents,” BP staff will lead an interactive process of imagination, generation, and collaboration in sound and movement. Diversely-experienced participants—who may be either music- or dance-specialists—can expect to depart the workshop with a new set of tools, vocabulary, conceptual insights, and practical techniques upon which they can in turn draw in their own creative undertakings.

Christopher J. Smith is Professor, Chair of Musicology, and director of the Vernacular Music Center at Texas Tech University. His research interests are in vernacular musics, improvisation, music and politics, and historical performance. His theatrical dance show Dancing at the Crossroads premiered in February 2013 and his scholarly monograph The Creolization of American Culture: William Sidney Mount and the Roots of Blackface Minstrelsy (Illinois) was the 2013 winner of the Irving Lowens Award from the Society for American Music; his new monograph is Dancing Revolution: Bodies, Spaces, and Sound in American Cultural History (2019). He is Executive Editor of the Journal of the Vernacular Music Center, serves as house composer for The Bassanda Project, tours with the pan-European Balfolk group Rattleskull, and leads the Elegant Savages Orchestra symphonic folk group at Texas Tech. He is a former nightclub bouncer, framing carpenter, lobster fisherman, and oil-rig roughneck, and a published poet.

Nicole Wesley is a teacher, performer, and choreographer based out of Austin, Texas. She received an MFA in Dance from Texas Woman’s University and a Certified Laban Movement Analyst (CLMA) Certification from Integrated Movement Studies at The University of Utah. Nicole’s research interests include community building through authentic performance (The JUSTICE Project), interdisciplinary pedagogical and artistic approaches to art-making (The Bassanda Project) and Laban Movement Analysis (LMA) as a methodology in the realm of technical training and performance process. She is Co-Founder of Trinidad and Tobago’s COCO Dance Festival and is Co-Artistic Director of The JUSTICE Project with her dance partner of 20 years, Darla Johnson. Nicole is currently an Associate Professor of Dance at Texas State University.

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