Breakout Sessions


Breakout sessions are still being finalized. Continue to check the website for ongoing updates and more session and speaker details!



THURSDAY, JUNE 8


Making Connections: Partnerships in Dance Creation and Presentation

Thursday, June 8 | 2pm – 3:15pm

Moderated by Bonnie Brooks
Speakers: Emily Behrmann, Miki Ohlsen, Heather Rigby, and Stephen Clapp

How can the field increase performance opportunities and the creation of new work through innovative programs and partnerships between the many stakeholders involved in creating and sharing dance? Explore this question with presenters, dance companies, and service organizations from across the country who are experimenting with models of collaboration to create performance and choreographic opportunities.

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Dismantling Privilege: The Opportunities, Benefits and Plain Truth About What It Takes

Thursday, June 8 | 2pm – 3:15pm

Moderated by Michelle Ramos
Sage Crump, Denise Saunders Thompson, Lily Kharazzi, Michele Kumi Baer, and Anne Dunning

Audiences continue to diversify with the changing demographics of the nation, and major funders are beginning to shift their priorities to increase giving to artists and organizations of color. In this new reality, how do “mainstream” organizations effectively collaborate and/or partner with diverse organizations and communities, and find new ways to evolve and thrive? Hear from those who are currently engaged in this process. For the purposes of this session, "mainstream" is defined as organizations presenting largely European art and artists and/or largely reaching European/white audiences.

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Building Audiences for Dance: Lessons on Using Market Research to Expand Audiences

Thursday, June 8 | 2pm – 3:15pm

Moderated by Andrea Lodico Welshons
Speakers: Justin Garlinghouse and Lia Chiarelli

Hear from two leaders in the dance field, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and Pacific Northwest Ballet (PNB), which, with the support of The Wallace Foundation, have used market research strategies to test initiatives designed to attract new audiences. Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and PNB have been working to cultivate and attract younger audiences in the 21-to-40 year-old age group. Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater has been testing performance-related social events and investigating different ticket prices with millennial audiences. PNB used market research to help inform the presentation of new dance works in locations new to PNB performances. Find out what these two organizations have learned about their target audiences, what surprising insights they have gained, and what early lessons have been learned. This is an opportunity to hear from highly regarded dance leaders and learn from their research efforts.

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Being Bold: A Look at Censorship of the Past, Present, Future

Thursday, June 8 | 2pm – 3:15pm

Moderated by MK Wegmann
Speakers: Rosemary Johnson, Indira Goodwine, Kristopher McDowell, Douglas Sonntag and more to come

Over the course of history, issues of censorship in the arts have challenged our notions of free expression, particularly during times of political and social tension. How do we intentionally and unintentionally censor (or self-censor) the creation and presentation of dance as choreographers, presenters, administrators, and funders? In this session, learn more about the historical framework of censorship in the arts and find inspiration to boldly and bravely challenge censorship that faces dance works of today and tomorrow.

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Do I Have To Choose Between Creative Process and Community Engagement?

Thursday, June 8 | 3:45pm – 5pm

Moderated by Christy Bolingbroke
Speakers: Sara Nash, Indira Goodwine, Ariana Brawley, and Rodrigo Garcia

This session will examine when we are stretched to realize audience engagement programs on top of making new work and when we are inviting the community into the creative process as part of choreographic research. Beyond current practice, are there areas of the creative process for which we are missing support entirely?

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The Future of Inclusive Dance Practice in the USA

Thursday, June 8 | 3:45pm – 5pm

Moderated by Jennifer Calienes
Speakers: Peter DiMuro, Gina Gibney, Marisa Hamamoto, Kris Lenzo, Karen Peterson, Judith Smith, and Mary Verdi-Fletcher

Inclusive dance is gaining momentum and changing the paradigm of dance making and performance, and ultimately who participates in the art form. But, what exactly is inclusive dance? Where and how is it happening? What are the entry points to become involved? Hear from a panel of inclusive dance practitioners from around the country to learn more about the inclusive dance field and the latest national and regional developments. This session will provide those with little experience to those well acquainted with inclusive dance an opportunity to learn, connect, and become involved as we work collectively to advance equity and participation in dance for people with disabilities.

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Envisioning a Bold Future for Dance’s Digital Presence

Thursday, June 8 | 3:45pm – 5pm

Moderated by Libby Smigel
Speakers: Jaamil Kosoko, Julia Rhoads, Rebecca Salzer, and Nel Shelby

Online consumption of entertainment and information has exploded over the last few years. Has the dance world’s attitude towards our digital presence shifted in response? Have there been changes in our ideas about intellectual property and the relationship between live and recorded performance? While individual artists and organizations are devoting more resources to online visibility, our digital offerings as a field remain largely fragmented, low-quality, ruthlessly-excerpted, and lacking curatorial integrity. This interactive panel will enlist your creativity in envisioning a digital-access path supported by stakeholders from throughout the dance field. How can dance organize and pool our digital resources to better support the development of new audiences, young artists, and dance scholarship? Come, and help us find out!

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Navigating Music Rights and Licensing: Frequently Asked Questions about Music for New and Established Works Answered

Thursday, June 8 | 3:45pm – 5pm

Moderated by Corey Field
Speaker: Christine Cox

Obtaining music rights for choreography can be complicated, time consuming, and expensive. Gain insight into the do’s and don’ts of securing music rights and licensing for dance, including the steps to take when commissioning new work. Learn more about the appropriate timelines to follow, fees to expect, and how to navigate the process as a choreographer and/or manager who is new to securing rights.

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FRIDAY, JUNE 9


Ask an Archivist: A Workshop in Preserving Your Legacy

Friday, June 9 | 10am – 11:30am

Faciliated by Imogen Smith, Nena Couch, and Genie Guerard

Dance Heritage Coalition (DHC) will share the Artist’s Legacy Toolkit, a suite of free online resources designed to provide practical, adaptable guidance to dance artists and administrators on the many aspects of archiving, preservation, and records management. In addition to introducing these resources and providing time for feedback, DHC will answer questions and discuss best practices for digitizing videotapes, organizing and securing digital assets, conducting assessments and inventories of decades’ worth of records, finding archival partners, establishing an in-house archive, and the emerging vision of “artist-driven archives”. This workshop will inspire artists and administrators to think creatively about developing manageable solutions to ensure the survival of artistic legacies.

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Market Smarter: Insights and Strategy from the Arts Industry Digital Marketing Benchmark Study

Friday, June 9 | 10am – 11:30am

Moderated by Christopher Williams

The digital world is changing fast. How are dance companies and other arts organizations embracing digital in order to market their offerings? For five years, Capacity Interactive, a digital marketing firm for the cultural sector, has surveyed arts organizations to better understand how they are using digital marketing tools. The survey reveals how organizations are using social media, video, analytics, mobile, digital advertising, email, and the web. In this session, Capacity Interactive will present the findings from the most recent survey. He will compare results to past survey data in order to explain trends and also highlight opportunities. He will also share case studies from work within the dance field to illustrate how digital marketing can help companies meet their marketing goals. You won't want to miss this opportunity to learn new digital practices and to see how your organization stacks up in the digital world.

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Engaging Dance Audiences: Stories of Collaboration

Friday, June 9 | 1:30pm – 3pm

Moderated by Suzanne Callahan
Speakers: Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, Rhonda Greene, and Holly Bass

In its four rounds, EDA has transformed from a program giving a few large grants to Dance/USA members to test new engagement ideas, to an evolving structure that helps sustain the engagement practices of artists and organizations, regardless of their membership or operating structure. EDA’s evolution is rooted in collaboration and community building with the field and its grantees, who interact throughout the funding period and whose feedback contributes to the program's prioritization of equitable practices. Hear from grantees about their projects aimed to reflect the audiences they serve, including ALAANA, LGBTQ, and disabled people and how the process used and lessons learned can be applied elsewhere.

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Sustainable Developments: The Environmental, Social and Economic Impacts of Dance

Friday, June 9 | 1:30pm – 3pm

Moderated by Ian Garrett
Speakers: Maura Garcia, Lynn Neuman, Rebecca Pappas, and Bimbola Akinbola

Most often than not artwork is temporary and fleeting, it resists sustainability through permanence. It resists sustainability by prioritizing concept and appearance over raw materials. It resists sustainability because its importance is affective and not results oriented. But, it has been demonstrated that arts activity is environmentally beneficial in that it asks people to come together and collectively reduces the consumption of resources. The impacts of the arts are being address from a multitude of diverse streams: from the cultural based sustainability training program's for cultural managers from REFOCUS and MITOS21; to the Bio-remediative Arts practice of Mel Chin and Xavi Cortada; to the collaborations and praxis-based knowledge mobilization supported through Cape Farewell, the Arctic Circle, and Earth Matters on Stage Festival and Symposium; to the engineering integration of renewable energy in the presentation of Zata Omm Dance Projects' Vox Lumen. Looking at diverse practices, this session will thread together the potential for arts and cultural practice as a primary driver of sustainable change.

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#BBHMM: Understanding the Artist’s Body as Business

Friday, June 9 | 3:30pm – 5pm

Facilitated by Sydnie L. Mosley, A. Nia Austin-Edwards, and Kendra J. Ross

How can artists be paid a living wage for meaningful work? How do we transform places of lack in our lives to places of abundance? How do we re-imagine compensation?

This session is inspired by Sydnie L. Mosley Dances’ Body Business, an interactive production that re-envisions economic practices in the arts world and encourages greater transparency of the artist’s experience. The session will offer a framework and testing ground for compensation negotiations between artists and institutions. The negotiation strategy focuses on equitable agreements rooted in needs assessments and continuous, clear communication. Facilitators will guide a dialogue that engages artists, administrators, and all session attendees in a creative exploration of resources and responsibility through the Body Business process and practice supported by the values embodied in the work of Sydnie L. Mosley Dances, STooPS, and PURPOSE Productions. Participants will depart with strategies to deepen transactions between artists and their community in a way that sustains long-term, mutually beneficial partnerships. This session is an introduction to a longer workshop; facilitators will provide information about the full-length workshop during the session.

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Ready for Anything: Building a Culture of Resilience and Adaptation

Friday, June 9 | 3:30pm – 5pm

Moderated by Mollie Quinlan-Hayes
Speaker: Eric Fliss

Today, dance organizations are subject to change and risk from all fronts. It’s critical to build a culture of resilience and readiness to protect your assets, keep your operations going, and maintain a sense of control. This conversation will look at a variety of intentional and unforeseen forces that have impacted your dance colleagues, and how they did, or could have, operated and adapted through the change. You’ll also receive information on resources and expertise throughout the country that can help you and your dance community adapt, prepare, and respond when faced with crisis and change.

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SATURDAY, JUNE 10


Gender Identities in Dance

Saturday, June 10 | 8:45am – 10am

Moderated by Sean Dorsey
Speakers: Lilly Valore, Cathy Young, and Leesha Zieber

This session is for all who want to learn about making the dance field more accessible, relevant, and supportive of transgender and gender-non-conforming communities. Join us; especially if you’re nervous, especially if this is new to you, and especially if you’re passionate about trans inclusion! Roughly 98% of transgender people have never set foot in a dance class, dance performance, or dance studio. More than 99.9% of dances made, funded, presented, and performed in the U.S. include zero transgender or gender-non-conforming dancers. Why is this? Are dance companies willing to explore non-binary-gendered roles or hire trans dancers? Are presenters willing to program trans work? Are studios and schools willing to embrace best practices for trans dancers’ learning? Can we move beyond exclusion versus tokenism?

What are the barriers facing transpeople who want to make dances, be presented, receive funding, become professional dancers, or simply find a dance studio that has a safe place for them to pee? What do “bathroom bills” have to do with dance? We will talk about the nuts and bolts of making studios, theaters, public spaces, and your presenting season more welcoming and safe for trans and gender-non-conforming individuals. Collectively, can we imagine a future where transgender and gender-expansive individuals in our field are supported and celebrated as unique and powerful?

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Community Learning: Results from Staff Residencies

Saturday, June 10 | 8:45am – 10am

Moderated by Amy Fitterer
Speakers: Brandon Gryde, Mina Matlon, and Johanna Tschebull

Dance/USA developed and piloted a staff residency program to make deeper connections with local dance communities throughout the United States. In late 2016, two Dance/USA staff members each spent two weeks in their chosen residency city learning about that community’s dance ecosystem. Dance/USA conducted interviews with local dance makers and cultural leaders, participated in events, and explored local resources. In this session, learn about the Kansas City and New Orleans dance communities from the lens of this program. How are they different from one another? How are they similar? What were the needs and challenges expressed by dance makers in each city? Are the same themes and issues arising in other dance communities across the country? Join us to explore these questions.

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A Collective Effort: Establishing and Strengthening Healthy Relationships Between Dancers and Directors

Saturday, June 10 | 10:15am – 11:30am

Moderated by Gina Gibney and Jawole Jo Willa Zollar
Speakers: Amy Miller and Marc Brew

This session will explore the ever-evolving relationship between dancers and artistic directors in contemporary dance, with a focus on bringing innovative practices into the training and ongoing interactions of both parties. How can we break unhealthy patterns developed from our history in the field and move toward mutual respect, transparency, and trust in our work inside and outside of the studio? Can we develop systems that allow dancers and leadership to pose challenging questions to one another that ultimately increase understanding? Learn from the experiences of artistic directors and dancers in their companies who have navigated these issues.

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The Art of Inclusion

Saturday, June 10 | 10:15am – 11:30am

Moderated by Denise Saunders Thompson
Speakers: Glenn McCoy, Esailama Diouf, Ana Maria Alvarez, and Celine Schein Das

This roundtable discussion, with an audience engagement portion, will provide a forum for conversation about how people from different budget sizes, racial or ethnic groups, and dance disciplines are changing behavior based on new realities. The purpose of this conversation is to step beyond categories to address challenges. Three challenges that are common across sectors will be selected by the moderator and panelists, and then expanded upon by each to discover both differences and similarities in approach.

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Arts Policy and Effective Advocacy

Saturday, June 10 | 10:15am – 11:30am

Facilitated by Brandon Gryde

Under any new administration, the political landscape changes and so do the ways arts communities advocate. How will the current political climate impact the issues that affect dance and the performing arts? Hear how Dance/USA is representing the field and learn how you can be an effective dance advocate.

Learn more about all speakers for this session.