THE DANCE + SOCIAL JUSTICE CONFERENCE
Each year, Free Body Project holds an event which convenes global leaders, founders, change makers, development practitioners, peace building professionals, artists, and activists all contributing to the advancement of the field of dance and social justice.
Director of Programs, Philadelphia Folklore Project,
Co-Editor of, Dance, Human Rights, and Social Justice: Dignity in Motion
received a PhD in cultural anthropology from Cornell University. Her dissertation, books and other publications focus on the history and cultural context of dance and music around the world, with a specialization in Cambodia, particularly in relation to violence, migration, conflict resolution and gender concerns. She’s held teaching and research appointments at the University of California-Berkeley, Yale University and Bryn Mawr College, and worked in Cambodian, Lao and Vietnamese refugee camps in Indonesia and Thailand. She’s also conducted years of ethnographic research in Cambodia. Co-editor of Dance, Human Rights and Social Justice: Dignity in Motion, she has also contributed to Annihilating Difference: The Anthropology of Genocide and The Choreography of Resolution: Conflict, Movement, and Neuroscience, among other publications. Her most recent book, Talking Dance: Stories from the South China Sea, was published in 2016. Currently serving as Director of Programs at the Philadelphia Folklore Project, a non-profit arts and social justice organization, she curates exhibitions and produces performances, humanities forums and publications highlighting aspects of diverse cultural traditions. She’s completing a documentary film, Because of the War, about Liberian women singers who harness the power of their art for anti-violence efforts.
Artistic Director, Heidi Latsky Dance
Heidi Latsky Dance (HLD) is a not-for-profit organization founded in 2001. Since 2006 the company has incorporated performers with disabilities. The mission of the company is to redefine beauty and virtuosity through performance and discourse, using performers with unique attributes to bring rigorous, passionate and provocative contemporary dance to diverse audiences. HLD has received numerous awards, commissions and residencies, and has toured internationally. ON DISPLAY, HLD's current portfolio of work that began in 2015 when the Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities invited Latsky to participate in the celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, is now a global phenomenon. Recent 2017 performances included the Whitney Museum, The High Line, Lincoln Center, Victory Dance, Cherry Hill in Central Park, King's County Hospital, American Dance Festival, Stavros Niachros Foundation Cultural Center, and Hurleyville Arts Centre, where HLD is the 2016-17 company in residence.
Co-Author of 'Wired to Create: Unravelling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind'.
Carolyn Gregoire is a journalist and author living in New York. She worked at The Huffington Post for six years as a reporter covering health and science, and her work has also appeared in publications including Scientific American, TIME, Harvard Business Review, Quartz, Tricycle: The Buddhist Review and Yoga Journal. She is the co-author of Wired to Create: Unravelling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind.
Artistic Director, Liberian Women's Chorus for Change
Fatu Gayflor sang and danced as a member of Liberia’s National Cultural Troupe, the country’s premiere performing arts ensemble, in the 1970s and 1980s. She also became a superstar recording artist. Fatu was known as "Princess Fatu Gayflor, the Golden Voice of Liberia." Indeed, it was the president of Liberia who gave her that name.
She recorded her first two albums of traditional songs in Liberia. Her next recording was made in the Ivory Coast, where she lived for a while in exile following the eruption of the civil war in Liberia. While living in the Ivory Coast and in Guinea (also as a refugee), she was called upon by the United Nations to sing to fellow refugees, thereby re-building community and inspiring hope. She found that at the conclusion of each concert, scores of people, mainly women, would approach her, and they would cry together. They were finding comfort in each other’s tears and arms, and in her music, as the war raged on, and loss and chaos mounted.
Now a resident of the United States, where she has been since 1999, she performs at Liberian community events across the country. In 2013 Fatu co-founded and became the artistic director of the Liberian Women’s Chorus for Change, an ensemble of highly-accomplished Liberian women singers, dancers and songwriters, all based in Philadelphia. Together they perform for local Liberian audiences, providing inspiration and a safe space for discussions of domestic violence and other issues of concern to the community. Fatu has been honored with a Leeway Foundation Transformation Award (2013) and a Pew Fellowship in the Arts (2014). In 2015, she was artist-in-residence at Brandeis University’s Creativity, Arts and Social Transformation program, where she performed and taught in conflict resolution, ethnomusicology, dance and women’s studies classes.
Senior Director of Community Action and Artist Services, Gibney Dance
Kara Gilmour oversees Gibney Dance's Community Action department, which provides movement workshops in domestic violence shelters, and school-based violence prevention programs. Her team works in close partnership with Universities, Community Based Organizations and City agencies to catalyze discourse around the role of art as an essential element for healing, advocacy and prevention of intimate partner violence. Ms. Gilmour also supervises Artist Services at Gibney, focusing on supporting artist’s administrative, artistic and community practices.
Prior to joining Gibney, Ms. Gilmour was part of Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy’s leadership team for 8 years. She helped shape programming and community engagement for 85-acres of public land as it was transformed from abandoned warehouses to a state-of-the-art park. She has also worked for NYC Department of Parks and Recreation, NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Education Development Center, and Lincoln Center Institute.
As a professional dancer, Ms. Gilmour was a member of Gibney Dance Company (NYC), Compagnie Marie Chouinard (Montreal, QC) and Paula Josa-Jones Performance Works (Boston, MA). She has a BA from Wesleyan University, attended NYU’s George H. Heyman, Jr. Program for Philanthropy and Fundraising, was is a 2016 New York Community Trust Leadership Fellow and was recently elected by the Mayor's Office to Combat Domestic Violence as a 2017 Advocate of New York City. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two boys.
SHARING: Conferences are platforms for global changemakers to share how dance and movement are utilized within diverse international development, social change and peace building programs and initiatives, mapping models for international dance + social justice work.
ENGAGING: The events create a clear and accessible space for the global field of dance and social justice while simultaneously building a community of passionate, curious and engaged practitioners and supporters.
ADVOCACY: Through this space and community, Free Body Project will promote the use of dance and movement within international development practices, programs and policies. This space will also allow donors to better understand how and why dance and movement are powerful resources, improving availability of resources and further benefitting dance and social justice organizations.
On December 7th, Free Body Project teamed up with some incredible partners -- Gibney Dance and New York University's Gallatin School of Individualized Study -- to curate an engaging event grounded in movement and impact.
MOVING FOR PEACE THROUGH THE EYES OF DANCE ACTIVISTS
Held at Brandeis University as part of the annual 'DEIS Impact Social Justice Forum in Waltham, Massachusetts. This first event brought together three thought leaders promoting peace and empowering lives through dance with an avid audience.