New series connects students, community with artists and scholars

A new initiative from the Department of Performing and Media Arts, the Asian American Studies Program, and the Latina/o Studies Program is inviting students and community members to engage in hands-on workshops and conversations with artists  and arts/performance scholars. The next visit is Feb. 18.

“Critical Moves: Performance in Theory & Movement,” envisioned as a multiyear project, is hosting three virtual events with artists this semester. The artists work across boundaries of race, gender, sexuality and ethnicity and exemplify the ways that the arts, and in performance in particular, are lived and studied.

“We are both artists and scholars ourselves,” said Christine Bacareza Balance, associate professor of performing and media arts and Asian American studies, who is organizing the series with Karen Jaime, assistant professor of performing and media arts and Latina/o studies. “Coming from Southern California and New York City, respectively, we realized that conversations around race and diversity could be expanded, here on-campus and in Ithaca, to be more representative of the world we live in. This series centers artists’ work that is able to speak across different divides.”

The artists will visit Balance’s and Jaime’s courses, as well as offer some evening sessions.

The next event is “Season of Glass: Love and Loss in Japanese America,” a talk & conversation with Joshua Chambers-Letson, professor of performance studies at Northwestern University. The talk is scheduled for 6 p.m. ET Feb. 18  and will take place on Zoom.

On the occasion of the Day of Remembrance to mark the incarceration of Japanese and Japanese Americans in U.S. concentration camps for the duration of World War Two, this talk re-enters the archives of photographs of Nikei life within the camps.

Chambers-Letson’s visit is co-sponsored by the departments of performing & media arts, history and history of art and visual studies.

Other events this semester include:

“Basement Bhangra Redux, ”an artist conversation & dance party with DJ Rekha, March 19, 7 p.m. DJ Rekha/Rekha Malhotra is a DJ, producer, curator and educator. They have been credited with pioneering Bhangra music in North America via the Basement Bhangra club night (1997-2017).

The event is organized in collaboration with Professor Jaret Vadera (Art) and co-sponsored by the South Asia Program (SAP)

A “Just Give Me The Night:' Queer Nightlife Ecologies” colloquium, April 22, 7-8:30 p.m., featuring scholars Kemi Adeyemi, Kareem Khubchandani and Ramón Rivera-Servera, who will talk about their scholarly work related to queer night life.

Taking George Benson’s classic song as it’s soundtrack, the event will engage participants in a conversation about alternative temporalities and different modes of economic production and kinship networks, while subsequently offering up different ways of being in the world that challenge the 9-5 capitalist labor model. This event takes on a particular resonance given COVID, Jaime said, and participants will discuss how COVID has impacted and forced us to reimagine what nightlife is and what it does.

The virtual colloquium is funded through the American Studies Program, co-sponsored by the performing and media arts department and the Latina/o Studies Program. Registration info will be available soon on the website for the Department of Performing and Media Arts.

“A lot of my students are anxious in this particular time of COVID and in this political moment,” Jaime said. “These artists can speak to where they are as students and to the experiences they have across various communities.”

The visiting artists will also share their career paths and the ways they continue to focus on their art, she said. “How do you frame art as an essential part of your life along with paying your bills?”

Series visitors last fall included poets Rich Villar and Anacaona Rocio Milagro;  Jessica Hagedorn, author of “Toxicology,” “Dream Jungle,” “The Gangster of Love,” “Danger and Beauty” and “Dogeaters;” and Regie Cabico, a spoken-word pioneer who won The Nuyorican Poets Cafe Grand Slam Championship in 1993.

For more information on the series, visit the website for the Department of Performing and Media Arts.

Read the story in the Cornell Chronicle.

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