Dance as Activism: The Choreographing Justice Series to Mobilize Social Equality

How can choreography inspire the mobilization of social activism? An upcoming series organized by two PMA Professors, Danielle Russo and Juan Manuel Aldape Muñoz, aims to channel the power of dance and motion into a discussion of justice, equality, and representation.

Titled, “The Choreographing Justice Series”, the initiative consists of a yearlong programming of guest artist talks, curricular and extracurricular workshops, symposia, and live and multimedia performances. The programs are intended to construct a sense of community and ignite mindsets to circulate in ways that are just, empowering strides toward social activism, civil disobedience, and community mobilization.

“I deeply believe in the power of collective movement as a means to redefine the limits and preconceived notions of what 'choreography' can be and how it can serve an immediate, local purpose,” explained Russo. “My work in dance education slips in and between my work as not only a choreographer, but also as a community organizer and art activist.”

Regardless of the 'stage’, continued Russo, her ethos is to critically interweave dance as a vehicle of power – a powerful mechanism for protest, progress, and preservation.

Throughout the organization process of the Choreographing Justice Series, the central themes lay in the ways in which dance and performance disrupt a space, a consciousness, and a culture.

Ultimately, it became the mission to embody such a nature of performing art into a movement for change.

Moreover, the Choreographing Justice Series invests in the already-active dance community at Cornell and in Ithaca, partaking in an alliance of like minded creatives.

“At the end of the day,” said Russo, “the dance floor is a democracy and a coming together—a historically vital, sacred space where lineages and legacies, often overlooked or oppressed, are not only seen but heard, felt, and put on the record so as not to be forgotten, not to be silenced.”

Upcoming artist visits include Rosy Simas on September 27, Ishmael Houston-Jones on September 28, Natalia Duong on November 1, Yvonne Meier on November 7 - 8, Kieron Sergeant on November 9, and Ana “Rokafella” Garcia on December 1.

The series has been made possible through the generosity of Cheryl Whaley and Eric Aboaf.

Erin Yoon '26 is a communications assistant in the Department of Performing and Media Arts.

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Danielle Russo and Juan Manuel Aldape Munoz