July 23-28, 2017 World Dance Alliance* Global Summit, St. John’s, Newfoundland

Dancing from the Grassroots

By Lucinda Coleman

Typically, the highlights of a global conference are the exceptional speakers, inspiring masterclasses, stunning facilities or small group discussions held in various formats. Often, the chance to publish academic work, present papers and attend extraordinary performances all delight, challenge and inspire delegates. Many times, the opportunity to meet other academics and artists, exchange ideas and share concerns becomes the most valued experience during and after the conference.

Occasionally, one stumbles into an environment that holds elements of these desired purposes for meeting, but something off-kilter, even magical, plunges the gathering of global travellers into shared experiences which can only be handled through the exchange of laughter, stories and prosecco. At the World Dance Alliance (WDA) Global Summit in Newfoundland, winding streets with brightly coloured doors cheerily invoked curiosity, inviting exploration of self, place and other. Conference attendees wandered in vague disorientation, seeking lecture rooms, people, or places to eat, often falling into step with admired colleagues who quickly became friends. As the cold wind of the Atlantic Ocean whipped up long-forgotten mysteries, dancers, artists, academics, teachers moved askew; a dance of engagement that could only spring from the grassroots of this unconventional location.

For me, as I suspect for many delegates, the conference proffered the gift of joy. As others no doubt experienced, there were wonderful concrete outcomes ranging from the formation of fast friends through to the invitation for our dance work to tour widely. As a result of attending the Summit, the Remnant Dance production, winery psalms, has been invited for a small performance season during the Joint Dance Congress, Panpapanpalya (July, 2018), which is the 2nd joint congress of daCi (dance the Child international) and the WDA Global Education and Training Network. While attendance is subject to funding, the connections made in Newfoundland have ensured the possibilities of sharing work and making new work with those we met, in other extraordinary environs.

Photography of WDA delegates, venue and images of Canada by Ellen Avery © 2017, reprinted with permission.

* “World Dance Alliance is an independent, non-profit, non-political, and non-religious member-driven organization.” - http://www.worlddancealliance.org/