2017 – 2018 Schedule

Stanford Colloquium on Dance Studies 2017 – 2018

“Mediations of Movement: Theorizing Dance on Screen.”

The Stanford Colloquium on Dance Studies is a free and open-to-the-public lecture-performance series that features interdisciplinary scholars and scholar-performers who critically engage with dance as a theoretical field, method, practice, and/or object of analysis. The 2017-2018 Colloquium is co-curated by Heather Rastovac Akbarzadeh (Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Dance Studies) and Usha Iyer (Assistant Professor, Film and Media Studies) around the theme, “Mediations of Movement: Theorizing Dance on Screen.” As forms invested in the exploration and exhibition of movement, cinema and dance have had a long history of engagement. Screendance studies has emerged as an exciting discipline within both dance studies and film & media studies, and calls attention to the long history of engagement between dance, cinema, and other moving media. Through the academic year, the Stanford Colloquium on Dance Studies will invite scholars and scholar-practitioners to frame the theoretical and historical questions around screendance studies and dance on screen and their relevance for the study of dance, film, new media, art, and performance.

Fall Quarter 2017: 

For this year’s inaugural lecture, the Stanford Colloquium on Dance Studies is excited to present:

“Hiding in Plain Site: Screendance Histories and the Expanded Imagination”

A lecture by Douglas Rosenberg (Professor and Chair of the Art Department, University of Wisconsin-Madison)

Discussant: Usha Iyer (Assistant Professor of Film and Media Studies, Stanford University)

Thursday, November 9, 2017, 5:30pm – 7:00pm, Followed by a reception

Oshman Hall in McMurtry Building, Stanford University, Free & Open to the Public

In a seminal essay “Video Space: A Site For Choreography,” first published in LEONARDO in 2000, Douglas Rosenberg notes, “Video space as a site for choreography is a malleable space for the exploration of dance as subject, object and metaphor, a meeting place for ideas about time, space and movement.” Dance has been inextricably linked to the sequential image since the earliest days of photography. Expanding the scope of thinking to analog or “hand drawn” technologies offers an even more extended notion of screendance and allows us to theorize a trajectory that wanders into the territories of the visual arts, theater, storytelling and beyond.  Screendance is perhaps the most invasive of all arts species; it has been hiding in plain site since well before there was a critical mass of interest in the form, even before it was named as such.  This talk visualizes a screendance history, theory and practice that is transgressive and ever-present, even if hovering slightly out of the frame.

Presenter Bio:

Pic-Head shotDouglas Rosenberg is Professor and Chair of the Art Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is an artist, theorist, and the author of Screendance: Inscribing the Ephemeral Image and The Oxford Handbook of Screendance Studies, as well as a founding editor of The International Journal of Screendance. His work in video, installation, and performance has been exhibited internationally for over 30 years and has been supported by numerous grants and awards including, the NEA, The Rockefeller Foundation, The Soros Foundation, the MAP Fund in New York, and the James D. Phelan Art Award in Video.  Recent venues for screenings of his work include Limerick City Gallery of Art, Scotland, Lincoln Center, New York, and le Festival Ciné-Corps de Paris in 2018.


Winter Quarter 2018: 

“Kinesthetic and Cinesthetic Affectivity: Moving and Being Moved by Dance Onscreen

A lecture by Dr. Harmony Bench (Associate Professor of Dance, Ohio State University)

Discussant: Dr. Jennifer DeVere Brody (Professor of Theater & Performance Studies and Chair of CCSRE, Stanford University)

Wednesday, March 7, 2018, 5:30pm – 7:00pm

Roble Gym 139, Stanford University, Free & Open to the Public

In this presentation, I focus on the short video Color of Reality (2016) directed by Jon Boogz with visual art by Alexa Meade and dancing by Boogz and Lil Buck. The video follows a loose narrative structure, addressing anti-black violence without, however, flattening the dancers’ movements to fit a simple storyline or social critique. This presentation is situated in the interdisciplinary field of screendance and pulls from many examples of screendance as well as cinema and media studies, feminist theory, dance studies, and black cultural criticism to articulate the role of kinesthetic (movement of the body) and cinesthetic (movement of the screened image) affectivity in dance onscreen. Pushing against universalizing theories of kinesthetic empathy as well as theories of affect that obscure processes of enculturation, I turn to feminist affect theory and black cultural criticism to articulate a space of danced expressivity and sensuous spectatorship that never loses sight of the fact that bodies are not lived in the abstract. I posit kinesthetic and cinesthetic affectivity within screen-based performance and spectatorship as a way of watching and thinking alongside dance that does not attempt to resolve gaps in understanding, but rather creates a space of ethical encounter across difference.

Presenter biography:

HarmonyBenchHarmony Bench is Associate Professor in the Department of Dance at The Ohio State University, where she is also affiliated faculty with Theatre, Folklore, Translational Data Analytics, and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Her research sits at the intersections of dance, media, and performance studies and revolves around encounters between bodies and machine or media technologies. Her writing has appeared in the Oxford Handbook of Dance and the Popular Screen, Choreographies of 21st Century War, and Dance on Its Own Terms as well as Theatre Journal, Dance Research Journal, The International Journal of Performance Arts and Digital Media, Participations, and Performance Matters, among others. Current digital humanities projects include: Mapping Touring, which focuses on the performance engagements of early 20th century dance companies, and Dance in Transit, a collaboration with Kate Elswit that considers transportation infrastructure and support networks in Katherine Dunham’s dance touring of the 1950s. Both of these digital works in progress can be found at http://movementonthemove.osu.edu/. Since 2014, she has been co-editor of The International Journal of Screendance with Simon Ellis.


Spring Quarter 2018: 

“The Bio-Political Economy of the Reel Cabaret Dancer in Twentieth-Century Iran”

A lecture by Dr. Ida Meftahi (Visiting Assistant Professor of contemporary Iranian culture and society at the Roshan Institute for Persian Studies, University of Maryland)

Discussant: Heather Rastovac Akbarzadeh (Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Dance Studies, Stanford)

Thursday, May 17, 2018, 5:30pm – 7:00pm

Roble Gym 139, Stanford University, Free & Open to the Public

If you will attend, please RSVP here

 Exploring the cabaret scene as well as several inter-connected realms of the popular-culture of Pahlavi-era Iran (1926-1979), this lecture interrogates the cinematic constructions of the cabaret-dancer, a common character-type of the pre-revolutionary commercial cinema, vis-à-vis her social narratives. Drawing from Dr. Meftahi’s historiographical and ethnographic study of dance in Iran, this lecture will examine the emergence of the popular entertainment cabaret scene and its (female) dancing body in light of 20th-century domestic urban transformations and biopolitics, the socio-economics of the popular stage, the formation of cultural and racial categories, and ideological discourses on public performance.

Presenter biography:

Afra Pourdad-Headshots-Washington-DC-4006Ida Meftahi is a Visiting Assistant Professor of contemporary Iranian culture and society at the Roshan Institute for Persian Studies, University of Maryland. She completed her doctoral studies at the University of Toronto’s Department of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations and was a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for the Arts and Humanities at Pennsylvania State University. Her first book, Gender and Dance in Modern Iran: Biopolitics on Stage was released in Spring 2016 (Routledge Iranian Studies Series). Offering a novel approach to corporeality in twentieth-century Iran, Meftahi’s historiographical analysis encompasses gender, urbanism, performance, cinema, and political economy of public entertainment. Her research has also appeared in Muslim Rap, Halal Soaps, and Revolutionary Theater: Artistic Developments in the Muslim Cultural Sphere (2011), Islam and Popular Arts (2016), Oxford Handbook of Dance and Ethnicity (2016), IranNameh (2016), International Journal of Middle East Studies (2016), and Clio. Femmes, Genre, Histoire (forthcoming, 2017). She is currently working on her second manuscript, a spatial humanities reading of Tehran’s historic entertainment district, while directing the Lalehzar Digital Project, a component of the Roshan Initiative for Digital Humanities.

An Additional Colloquium Event During Meftahi’s Stanford Visit:

“Contemporary Scholarship on Dance & Dancers in/from Iran”

Roundtable with Drs. Anthony Shay, Ida Meftahi, and Heather Rastovac Akbarzadeh

Followed by a Dance Performance with Aisan Hoss

Friday, May 18, 2018, 1:00pm – 3:30pm

Roundtable (1pm – 2:30pm) in Roble Gym 139 + Performance (2:45pm – 3:30pm) in Roble Gym 113

Stanford University

Free & Open to the public

If you will attend, please RSVP here

Iranian dance genres and Iranian dancers are gaining increasing attention among scholars and audiences in North America and Europe as Iranian dancers have begun to increasingly circulate among transnational dance circuits and social media over the past ten years. The strict regulation of dance in the Islamic Republic of Iran has also recently gained international media attention with the arrest of Iran’s “Happy Dancers” (seven men and women who produced a YouTube video dancing and lip singing to Pharrell Williams’ pop hit single, “Happy”) and with the American-produced film Desert Dancer (2014), an autobiographical drama that depicts the life of Iranian-born dancer Afshin Ghaffarian. Historically and today, dance in Iran and its diaspora has been a site for the projection and production of a wide range of ideologies and discourses, such as those surrounding: gender and sexuality, modernity, nationalism, religion/secularism, high art/low art, Orientalism and auto-Orientalism, cultural preservation, resistance, neoliberalism, immigration, and citizenship. This roundtable will feature a discussion with three scholars who have contributed to the growing yet understudied field of research on dance and dancers in/from Iran. Dr. Anthony Shay is a preeminent scholar on Iranian dance whose prolific research has been foundational to the field; his 1999 book Choreophobia: Solo Improvised Dance in the Iranian World is the first scholarly monograph on social and staged dance in the Iranian world, and has been invaluable to scholars and dancers alike. Dr. Ida Meftahi’s rigorous historiographical research on dance in 20th and 21st century Iran is also a major contribution to the field, particularly her 2016 monograph Gender and Dance in Modern Iran: Biopolitics on Stage, which draws from a wide range of methodologies and archives to construct the most comprehensive view on dance in Iran to date. Dr. Heather Rastovac Akbarzadeh’s research builds on the work of these two scholars to analyze the politics of dance in the Iranian diaspora, particularly as they relate to the contemporary Euro-American geopolitics of neoliberalism, immigration, and citizenship. Each scholar will give a 15-minute overview of the breadth of their research, which will be followed by a 15-minute discussion between the three of them, and will end with a 30-minute audience Q&A.

*Dr. Anthony Shay will join the panel via Skype.

Following the roundtable, Iranian dancer-choreographer Aisan Hoss will perform as part of this event, followed by an audience Q&A, moderated by Heather Rastovac Akbarzadeh.


shay-anthony-2013Dr. Anthony Shay serves as Professor of Dance and Cultural Studies in the Theatre and Dance Department of Pomona College in Claremont, CA. He took his Ph.D. at UC Riverside in Dance History and Theory. He is the author of 6 monographs, the editor and co-editor of four anthologies on dance history and aspects of folk and traditional dance, as well as the author of over forty scholarly articles and encyclopedia entries. He was the co-founder, director, and choreographer for the AMAN Folk Ensemble, and founding artistic director of the AVAZ International Dance Theatre. He is one of the recipients of the coveted James Irvine Foundation Choreographic Fellows, an NEH Scholars Fellowship, an NEA Artist in Residence in La Napoule, France, and numerous fellowships for both his scholarly work and his choreographies from the NEA, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Ahmanson Foundation, among others.

Aisan (1)Aisan Hoss, M.F.A. is a dancer and choreographer from Tehran, Iran. She began studying and performing Iranian dances at the age of twelve and teaching at the age of eighteen. After completing her B.S. in Iran, Hoss moved to London to pursue a career in contemporary dance and attended the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Contemporary Dance where she completed a one-year diploma in dance, followed by a B.A. in Dance Theatre. She emigrated to the U.S. in 2013 in order to obtain her M.F.A in Dance and Choreography at Mills College in Oakland, California. While at Mills, she received an E.L. Wiegand Foundation Innovator Award. For Hoss, dance and choreography have been a means for gaining insight into her identity as an Iranian living outside of Iran. Specifically, several of her choreographies have explored the ways in which having physical distance from her home country provides a deeper sense of intimacy with Iranian culture. http://www.aisanhossdance.com

Stanford Colloquium on Dance Studies 2017 – 2018 is curated around the theme of “Mediations of Movement: Theorizing Dance on Screen.” All events are FREE and OPEN TO THE PUBLIC. For any accessibility needs, please contact Heather Rastovac Akbarzadeh: rastovac@stanford.edu.

The Stanford Colloquium on Dance Studies is sponsored by the Mellon “Dance Studies in/and the Humanities” initiative and is generously funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. 2017-2018 co-sponsors include the Office of the Vice President for the Arts, Stanford Humanities Center, the Center for Comparative Studies in Race & Ethnicity, Stanford Global Studies, the Clayman Institute for Gender Research, the Department of Theater & Performance Studies, the Film & Media Studies Program – Department of Art History, Hamid and Christina Moghadam Program in Iranian Studies, and the Abbasi Program in Islamic Studies.