Configurations: Guest Speakers


Dr. Seika Boye (BFA/MA York 1999/2006, PhD University of Toronto 2016) is a dance scholar, artist and writer. She is a Lecturer at the Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies and Director of the Institute for Dance Studies at the University of the Toronto. As a performer Seika appeared with Ballet Creole (1997), Judith Marcuse Projects (2001), Electric Company Theatre (2000, 2001), and various independent artists across Canada. She has shown her own choreographic work in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal and was named on the Montreal Mirror’s Top Ten Choreographers list in 2003. Seika’s recent projects include co-curating the gathering Configurations in Motion: Performance Curation for Communities of Colour (Concordia, 2017 with Thomas F. DeFrantz (Duke); dramaturgy/historical consultant for artist Deanna Bowen’s The Long Doorway (Mercer Union, 2017); and movement dramaturgy for Djanet Sears’ A Black Girl in Search of God (Centaur Theatre/National Arts Centre, 2015). Her current scholarship explores blackness and dancing in Canada in early-mid 20th century and utilizes dance-focused research to confront historical omissions of Canada’s Black population. Seika is also an advocate for dance and dance studies within Canadian Universities. Her publications include writing for The Dance Current, Dance Collection Danse Magazine,, The Routledge Encyclopedia of Modernism, Performance Matters and forthcoming for Intersections: Canadian Journal of Music. Seika was a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Doctoral Fellow. She has appeared as a guest panelist at the Art Gallery of Ontario and with the feminist working group EMILIA-AMALIA. Seika lives and works in Toronto with her husband and two sons.


Dasha A. Chapman is the Postdoctoral Associate in the Department of African and African American Studies at Duke University, working alongside Duke’s Haiti Lab, the Program in Gender, Sexuality and Feminist Studies, and Dance. Dasha’s research engages African diaspora theory, performance studies, ethnography, and the queer Caribbean. She received her PhD in Performance Studies from New York University, and is a dancer who works in African diasporic techniques and collaborates with choreographers in New York, Haiti, and Durham, NC. Her writing appears in The Black Scholar and Dance Chronicle, and she co-edited a special issue of Women & Performance: a journal of feminist theory on Queer Haitian Performance and Affiliation, forthcoming 2017. This summer, she will be an artist-in-residence at the Power Plant Gallery in downtown Durham, NC, to develop “Hayti|Haiti|History,” a collaborative performance ethnography project.


Thomas F. DeFrantz is Chair of African and African American Studies and Professor of Dance and Theater Studies at Duke University. Born a Hoosier, his work focuses on theories of African diaspora aesthetics, intersections of dance and technology, and dance historiography. He writes articles and essays about black dance in the United States, as they are practiced in the US and in global contexts. He is the director of SLIPPAGE: Performance, Culture, Technology, a research group in residence at Duke that explores emerging technology in live performance applications that works to create innovate interfaces that help us tell alternative histories. He currently convenes the working group Black Performance Theory and the Collegium for African Diaspora Dance. He is past-president of the Society of Dance History Scholars, an international organization that advances the field of dance studies through research, publication, performance, and outreach to audiences across the arts, humanities, and social sciences. His books include the edited volume Dancing Many Drums: Excavations in African American Dance (2002) and Dancing Revelations: Alvin Ailey’s Embodiment of African American Culture (2004) and Black Performance Theory co-edited with Anita Gonzalez (2014). A director and writer, his creative works include CANE: A Responsive Environment Dancework that premiered at Duke in April, 2013, and where did I think I was going? [moving into signal] from 2015. With SLIPPAGE collaborators, he recently created work for the Detroit Institute of the Arts and the Nasher Museum at Duke University. He created a permanent installation for the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture.

Rhodnie Désir is a Montreal artist who articulates her craft through contemporary and traditional languages from Haiti, Central and West Africa to create signature works that draw connections between individual memories of the present and the collective memory of the past. Her flagship work BOW’T, drawing interest both locally and abroad (Burkina Faso, Brazil, Martinique, Haiti), adds to the seven works of her repertoire and to her international collaborations. In 2016, Rhodnie launched the BOW’T TRAIL, an international choreographic project and documentary, which led her to take part of the Francophone Cultural Programing of the Olympic Games of Rio de Janeiro (2016). Through her socially engaged and politically refined works, she will soon give birth to two new pieces: Dusk society, (2017) and MWOND (2018). Charismatic speaker and business woman (founder of the cultural mediation consulting cie: DÊZAM), she have been invited to many universities and by the UNESCO.

CFrederick Aug 2015

Christine Sokaymoh Frederick is co-founder and artistic director of Alberta Aboriginal Performing Arts and producer of the annual Rubaboo Arts Festival (7th annual in Feb 2016) and Executive Director of the Dreamspeakers Film Festival Society. She is an urban Cree-Métis and has thirty-five years of experience in multiple artistic disciplines. She’s attended the University of Alberta, the Banff Centre for Arts, and the University for Peace (Costa Rica, Indigenous Rights in the Field). She is a former board member of the Dreamspeakers Film Festival, the Indigenous Performing Arts Alliance, and is Past Chair of the Edmonton Arts Council (Chair of the Aboriginal Initiatives Committee). Christine currently sits on the board of directors for the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra/Winspear Centre and the Edmonton Indigenous Public Art Park steering committee. She is the recipient of the 2007 Esquao Award in Arts, and the 2016 Mayor’s award for Excellence in Artistic Leadership, and recently appointed as Vice Chair of the Alberta Foundation for the Arts.


Jane Gabriels is a curator/producer, writer, and performer. Since 1999, she has worked in the South Bronx at the non-profit arts organization Pepatián, and in 2006 became Director. At Pepatián, Gabriels established a festival that led to a six-year, bi-annual performance series that helped galvanize performance artists (dance, spoken word) and raise their visibility. As she completed her doctorate on Bronx artists and non-profits, she continued to direct Pepatián and established several key projects in collaboration with artists, local venues and community centers: Hip-Hop Academy, Bronx Artists Now: Showcase & Conversation, Dance Your Future: Artist & Mentor Collaborative Residency, a documentary film based on a collaborative dance theater work, a recent gathering of long-standing Bronx collaborating partners interested in performance curation, and support for PRISM, a newly emerging creative arts space in the Bronx, among other initiatives). She received her PhD in Humanities, Interdisciplinary Studies at Concordia University and graduated from the inaugural class at ICPP/Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance (Wesleyan Univ). As an independent curator/producer, she was invited to manage collaborative projects at the Bronx Museum of the Arts with The Point, C.D.C. and at Hostos Center for the Arts & Culture/Hostos Community College, as well as co-organize symposiums on performance curation with L’Université du Québec à Montréal/UQAM (2014), Duke University (2015), and Concordia University (2017).  In 2014, she co-taught (with Dena Davida) a pilot course on performing arts curation in Museum Studies at the L’Université du Québec à Montréal/UQAM.  In 2017, her essay on Merian Soto’s MODES! appeared in the catalogue at Soto’s recent residency and performance at Snug Harbor (Staten Island, NY), and her essay on singer-songwriter/musician Jeff Buckley was published in The Brooklyn Rail (May). She contributed a chapter to a forthcoming book on performance curation, and has had multiple artist interviews (Benoit LaChambre, Antonija Livingstone, Noemi Segarra, Rokafella, Sita Frederick, Marion Ramirez) published in Movement Research Performance Journal. Her solo work has been presented at BAAD!/Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance, Wave Hill (Bronx), Panoply Lab, Dixon Place, Cornell University, Northwestern Univ; Casa del Popolo and Le Cagibi, Cafe Concret/Theater St. Catherine (Montreal), and Pony Local (St John’s, Newfoundland).

Alan Harrington from Shoal lake #39 Ojibway Nation. Has been working in Montreal Area for 11 years. Worked with Homelessness population as a outreach worker with the Native Friendship Center of Montreal for about 5-6 years. Continues to work with many organizations within the Montreal and surrounding area. Founder of The Red Urban Project and has created many initiatives over the years, such as bringing back Kanehsatake Pow-Wow 2009 to the community and is still going on today. Alan has also Founder/Organizer of the Round dance and Montreal Pow-Wow events for the last 4 years and they still continue today. Alan is passionate in teaching First nation cultural to various people and organizations.

Rasu J

Rasu Jilani is an independent curator, cultural producer, social sculptor, and entrepreneur. His work investigates the intersections of art, culture, and civic engagement to raise critically-conscious conversations between artists, their local communities, and the wider public. Jilani’s projects are dedicated to promoting awareness around pressing social issues through exhibitions and community-driven programs. Currently, Rasu serves as the Director of Cultural Diversity and Strategic Partnerships at NEW INC, The New Museum’s creative entrepreneurship incubator for art, tech, and technology.  From 2013 through 2016, Jilani worked at MAPP International Productions as the Director of Community Programs. His work at MAPP included programming the humanities for Blink Your Eyes: Sekou Sundiata Revisited – a citywide retrospective, Triple Consciousness: Black Feminism(s) in the Time of Now at Brooklyn Museum, Days of Art and Ideas at The New School, artists’ salons, community discussions, and artists led workshops. Prior to joining MAPP, he worked with over 125 artists to curate, design and manage artistic and community events addressing social concerns and civic issues through his brand Coup d’etat Brooklyn. He served a two-year tenure as Senior Fellow of Arts, Culture, and Sustainability at the Pratt Center for Community Development, where he managed art and cultural programs designed to connect New York City neighborhoods with Pratt Center’s community and environmental sustainability projects. Rasu is an alum of Syracuse University and often teaches Theater, Civic Engagement and Activism courses at The New School.

Nicole Martin

Dr. Nicole Martin is a Faculty Instructional Consultant at the University of Kentucky’s Center for the Enhancement of Learning and Teaching (CELT). Her work focuses on creating equitable classroom spaces by weaving critical performative pedagogy into faculty development. Dr. Martin designs and conducts workshop series on facilitating dialogue across racial and cultural differences. She consults with faculty members, departments, and administrative units regionally and nationally to advance inclusive teaching practices in higher education. Dr. Martin was a featured panelist at the 2016 University of Kentucky Inclusive Leadership Forum. She is currently producing a podcast miniseries that interrogates systemic inequities in higher education called Higher Justice, which will premiere in Spring 2017. Dr. Martin received her Ph.D. from UT-Austin in performance studies with an emphasis in critical race theory and Black feminism. Her scholarly and artistic projects investigate the erasures and recoveries of Black womanhood in theatrical archives.

Soraya_Guenther 1

A long-time advocate for artists of colour and diasporic artistic practices, Soraya Peerbaye develops, curates and produces projects with dance artists across a wide spectrum of genres and cultures. She is the Program and Curatorial Co-Director with Anandam Dancetheatre; together with Artistic Director Brandy Leary, she curates the Contemporaneity dance series, centering Indigenous, Asian, African, Caribbean, Latin American and Arab contemporary dance practices in Canada, launching in 2017/18. Soraya is also a poet, whose most recent collection, Tell: Poems for a Girlhood, was nominated for the Griffin Poetry Prize and winner of the Trillium Poetry Award. Her first book, Poems for the Advisory Committee on Antarctic Names, was nominated for the Gerald Lampert Award.

Joyce Rosario is currently Associate Curator at the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival in Vancouver. She developed her practice in performing arts curation concurrent to her work in the dance milieu for the past 10 years. She joined the team at PuSh in 2013, after three years as Executive Director of New Works, an organization that produces several public performance series and, during her tenure, provided management support to artists including Tara Cheyenne Performance, Company 605, Out Innerspace and the response. Joyce curated and produced three editions of PushOFF in collaboration with Kris Nelson at Antonym as well as co-curated several iterations of 12 Minutes Max with Tanya Marquardt. She has served on various boards and committees, including CanDance, Koerner Foundation and as a member of the Steering Committee of the Canada Council’s Dance Mapping Study. She has been involved in professional development initiatives such as the Emerging Arts Professional Network and CAPACOA’s The Succession Plan. During her tenure at New Works she developed a peer-mentorship program to support individuals both from the artistic and management side of performing arts. From 2007 to 2010, Joyce was Executive Director for Made in BC – Dance on Tour, a regional dance presenter network dedicated to increasing audience reach and touring opportunities for contemporary dance in British Columbia. Previously, she worked with battery opera as company manager and administrator for the Dancing on the Edge Festival. She served a one-year term on the BC Arts Council board in 1998 through a provincial ‘Youth on Boards’ initiative. Joyce is a graduate of UBC Theatre Production/Design Program.


Vivine Scarlett is an administrator, choreographer, and instructor, whose artistic goals and aspirations are rooted in the love of dance. She is Founder and Curator for dance Immersion (Toronto, Canada), an organization that presents, produces and supports dancers and dances of the African Diaspora while providing a number of diverse programs that enhance careers for emerging and professional dance artists. For 22 years this organizations unique mandate and vision has provided Canadian and international dance artists with opportunities that have laid a foundation for continued growth and representation. Vivine’s contributions to the field of dance are generated from an energy that has fuelled her passion leading her on a journey for over 34 years of giving and serving through the arts. As former Artistic Director and performing member of the Usafiri Dance & Drum Ensemble, Vivine created and presented works in both traditional influenced African and contemporary dance styles. Drawn to all kinds of dance expressions and movement, Ms. Scarlett’s passion has manifested many experiences that have served Canadian artists of African descent. Vivine is the recipient of the 2016 Dance Ontario Lifetime Achievement Award, 2015 nomination from The Montreal English Theatre Awards (META) for the remount of “The Adventures of a Black Girl in search of God”. 2011 Planet Africa Heritage Award received for her contributions.   In 2008 she received a Chalmers Arts Fellowships to work with youth in Ghana, West Africa. Her choreographic endeavours in the theatre production of “The Adventures of a Black Girl in search of God” won her a Dora Mavor Moore award in 2002 and her work in “The Freedom of dreams: The Story of Nelson Mandela” received a Dora nomination in 2003. Ms. Scarlett is the 2005 K.M. Hunter Dance Artist award winner and has taught for numerous institutions and organizations throughout Canada. Her efforts to connect international Blacks in dance to Canada has resulted in dance Immersion bringing two youth organizations to perform in Ghana West Africa in 2006 & 2007. Under her guidance, dance Immersion has hosted the International Association of Blacks in Dance (IABD) Conference & Festival twice, in 2007 and 2012. In 2007, dance Immersion’s hosting was the first time the conference was conducted outside of the United States of America, a historic milestone for the IABD. Vivine continues her creative explorations as a freelance choreographer.

Mother Daughter Session - Luxe for Women by Purple Canvas Photography, Toronto

Nikki Shaffeeullah is a Toronto-based facilitator, director, performer and community-engaged artist who supports people in telling their own stories and facilitates the development of creative communities. Her current roles include serving as artistic director of The AMY Project, a theatre devising and arts mentorship program for young women and non-binary youth; assistant artistic director of the community arts company Jumblies Theatre, and half of the community-engaged puppetry and music duo Sea Lettuce. She is currently deepening her facilitation practice as a fellow in Training for Change’s Judith C. Jones Fellowship for Trainers of Colour. Recent projects include directing the marionnette show “Robin and the Timeless Forest” (Runaway Moon Theatre, BC), and forthcoming include co-directing the AMY Project’s 2017 devised show (SummerWorks Festival 2017) and starring in the independent feature film “The Lower Plateau” (Cinema LaVox productions). Nikki founded the Edmonton-based artist-activist collective Undercurrent Theatre, which produced community-engaged performance projects such as Escape Velocity and Other Works, a week-long arts festival that explored how gender-based violence intersects with race, culture, and media. She is an accomplished improviser who has been a cast member with companies across Canada, including Edmonton’s Canadian Comedy Award-winning troupe Rapid Fire Theatre. For four years she was editor-in-chief of magazine, Canada’s only professional journal dedicated to the intersections of politics, cultural plurality, social activism, and the stage. Nikki holds an MFA in Community-Engaged Theatre from the University of Alberta and her thesis Staging Diversity: A Decolonial Praxis of Intercultural Feminist Theatre Creation won the 2013 Canadian Association for Theatre Research in Intercultural Theatre. She trained in puppetry at Humber College, and has studied various politically-engaged theatre creation forms with the Belarus Free Theatre, the Makhampom Foundation in Thailand, and Teatro Yuyachkani in Peru. Nikki believes art should disrupt the status quo; centre the margins; engage with the ancient; dream of the future; and be for everyone. Her artistic and facilitation work is informed by 15+ years of anti-racist organizing, 10+ years of feminist and queer organizing; a family who loves music, food, and justice; and an inherited love of puns.


Tara Aisha Willis is a PhD candidate in Performance Studies at NYU. Currently Women & Performance’s performance reviews editor, she has served as TDR’s co-managing editor, and co-edited, with Thomas F. DeFrantz, an issue of The Black Scholar on black dance studies (2016). In addition to those publications, her writings appear in Movement Research Performance JournalThe Brooklyn Rail, Voices from the Bush Blog, and Magazin im August. As Movement Research’s Program Advisor, she coordinates diversity initiatives, including the Artists of Color Council, and programs their discursive Studies Project series, and was co-curator of MR’s 2016 Spring Festival: Hand Written Note(s). She currently dances in a collaboration between Will Rawls and Claudia Rankine, and works by Ivy Baldwin, Kim Brandt, and Yanira Castro; she was dramaturg in an ongoing collaboration between Ni’Ja Whitson and Jaamil Olawale Kosoko. Her choreography has been shown at Movement Research at Judson Church, BAX/Brooklyn Arts Exchange, Roulette, THROW, Dixon Place, The Painting Center, AUNTS, the CURRENT SESSIONS, CPR, and DraftWorks. She was a 2009 Dance Theater Workshop Van Lier Fellow, a 2016 Chez Bushwick Artist in Residence, and recieved the 2017 Stefanos Tsigrimanis Artistic Scholar Award.

Alicia Diaz, Alethea Pace, Urayoán Noel, Arthur Aviles in post-performance conversation as part of PEPATIÁN‘s Dance Your Future: Artist & Mentor Collaborative Residency. Jane Gabriels, Director. Presented in collaboration with BAAD!/Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance, Nov 2016. Photo: (c) Marisol Diaz, 2016.
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