What rich research and ongoing conversation was the Accumulation conference! It primarily featured young scholars moving the field of dance history to greater insight and reach. Presentations ranged from movement and dance at HBCUs to the intricacies of creating a living archive of dance to the political economies of avant garde dance–and university dance departments! My keynote picked up on some of these issues.
The overlap of issues throughout the day reflects that we’re onto something, as Lew Erenberg taught me long ago. Beyond the presentations themselves, I appreciated the intergenerational conversation and that so many senior critics and scholars were there in support of and interest about the newest scholars in the field. The organizers Juliana DeVaan and Emily Hawk are prime representatives of the promising future of the field.
Upon reflection, there were issues that I left out in my Keynote address, such as:
–the impact of ethnography and oral history in addition to embodied research that presents a shift to first-person testimony perhaps that may now overwhelm other methodological approaches;
–a more involved conversation about narrative strategies;
–the limitation of seeing dance solely as freedom, even in Saidiya Hartman’s work that I so admire (as Elizabeth Schwall reminded me);
–and the enduring importance—which requires constant vigilance—to keep dance and movement itself as evidence and focus even if discussing money matters and organizational structures (as Juliana DeVaan reminded me).
So we persist. In research, in conversation, and in advocacy for the significance and centrality of dance.