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On Friday October 15, 2010, fifty leaders from the field of Dance Studies gathered at St. Marks in New York for a one-day think tank on the future of the field and its professional organizations.

The representation of the diverse range of viewpoints, concerns and perspectives that were present in the room was so invigorating. As I reflect on many of the comments I heard both during and after the summit, two stand out as particularly important as we consider the next steps to take in the weeks/months ahead. I wanted to share my quick follow-up thoughts below.

The first of these has to do with the question of “What is each of us to do with this vision of a new organization or organizational structure, given our existing institutional allegiances?” This is a good question, and precisely one that we hoped would be raised, because it is the first conceptual threshold we each encounter as we consider the new future we are discussing.

Now that we have glimpsed the potential power and broader scale of our united voices, as they might be in a professional organization, how are we thinking about our currently splintered organizations?

Can we see past these specific institutional allegiances to become a more effective voice in our field? And what might that mean?

Do we now consider how we might join forces for a stronger future - as some members of the SDHS board suggested in a follow-up conversation Saturday morning? Do we now bring these ideas back to our respective boards and work through the ideas there?

The second very strong concern I heard, as we did our rolling response of where people’s thoughts were toward the end of the day, was the issue of sustainability.

How do we achieve what’s possible, in a sustainable way, without further fragmenting our human and financial resources?

Posing the right questions is of course key to eventually finding the right answers. Whatever the outcome, I hope that we’ll each consider what’s best for the entire field, and our colleagues of the future, rather than default to short range concerns about what’s best for entrenchment with our existing models.

I look forward to hearing how the conversation will grow.

Best Regards,

Janice Ross

With deep appreciation to our donors and their generous support of this event:

Mr. Warren Hellman
Mrs. Diane Wilsey

PDFs of the keynote address and full summit report are linked below:

Keynote Address (PDF)

Summit Report (PDF)

Summit Follow-Up Report from Janice Ross and Tommy DeFrantz, April 18, 2011

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All Dance Summit photographs by Melissa Blanco Borelli
Photographs may not be reproduced without permission

SDHS publications

Studies in Dance History SDHS’s monograph series, published by University of Wisconsin Press, answers a growing demand for works that provide fresh analytical perspectives on dancing, dancers, and dances in a global context. Read more...

[cover of 2015 Conversations] Issued yearly in early spring generally, Conversations Across the Field of Dance Studies reflects the dynamic and diverse membership of SDHS. We seek to bring you themes and debates current in the field of dance studies and the profession, alongside news from the international community of scholars in dance and related disciplines. Read more...

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