Fall 2021 In Dance

IN CONVERSATION is a series of interviews exploring exchanges about dance and different folks’ relationship to dance. We are now more than a year into a period of transition and re-framing. Re-framing the idea of work. Re-fram- ing the ideas of academia. Re-framing our home lives. Re-framing our global perspective. As a local community, we are re-examining what it CONVERSATION IN WITH ANDRÉA SPEARMAN, DANCERS’ GROUP ARTIST RESOURCE MANAGER “ LATANYA D. TIGNER means to make art and to be an artist. We are seeking to understand beyond our own past perspectives. For some that has meant giving their bodies rest. For others it has meant a deeper investigation of the body and where the source of movement comes from. In this edition of In Conversation I was able to speak with Latanya D. Tigner and Colette Eloi about the Back to the Root/Dancing Cy(i)phers series and the rich, exten- sive discourse around the African roots of dance and their place in academia. African dance professionally. Her research findings and dance/music performance experiences of 20+ years have augmented her understanding of African Diaspora dance. She has toured locally, nationally, and internationally performing at major festivals, learning institutions, and culture facilities. For me, [an important thing I’ve learned is] to be true to yourself, true to your vision. You know, really understanding and honoring who you are in that—whatever that is, whoever you are—really speaking to that. And understand- ing that your voice is valid in your making and it deserves to be out there in the world. It took me a while to understand who I am, like I’m still figuring that out.” — LATANYA D. TIGNER

We asked ourselves large questions including, Where is the African diaspora dance education in the Bay Area? Who can teach it? Is there space to reshape what it means to learn “ethnic” dances? What opportunities are there for those trained in culturally-specific dance? Latanya D. Tigner performs professionally with Dimen- sions Dance Theater, lectures at UC Berkeley, and is certi- fied in Talawa Technique™ (Akimbo Level). Latanya has created commissioned works for Dimensions and other local cultural organizations, including Cal Shakes’ critical- ly acclaimed black odyssey , for which she was nominated for a Theater Bay Area Award in 2017. Latanya currently serves as Co-Artistic Director of the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival, is a founding member of Oakland An- ti-Racism Organizing Committee, and is the curatorial director of Dancing Cy(i)phers, an annual symposium that connects the coded languages of African rooted dance through ongoing research. Colette Eloi is a doctoral student currently, ending her coursework in the Critical Dance Studies program at UC Riverside, where she also teaches. She is an accom- plished dancer and artistic director/commissioned chore- ographer, educator, guest lecturer, and researcher. Eloi has taught Dance history, Dance and Cosmology, Dance and Revolution, Haitian dance, jazz, black vernacular, modern (Dunham and Horton techniques), Caribbean, Latin and

“ Because [academia is] so stuck on the Black body as a political con- struct that holds all of this nega- tivity and trauma that this neolib- eralism, they talk about it in this way like, “You can never escape this identity.” You know, and part of it is because the way that you study in school, you repeat it and you live inside these same dis- courses and it’s like you’re trapped in the discourse! And you don’t get to live past it. And that’s why it’s so important for dancers to write about dance.” — COLETTE ELOI COLETTE ELOI



in dance FALL 2021 46

FALL 2021 in dance 47




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In Dance | May 2014 | dancersgroup.org

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