The Department of Theater and Dance invites you to "Dancing Democracy: Empathy and Community in Bill T. Jones’ Contemporary Work," a talk by Dr. Ariel Nereson.
In our contemporary moment, with its resurgence of populism and stark ideological oppositions within diverse democratic formations, many commentators, including activists, scientists, politicians, educators, and community members and organizers, are turning to the language of empathy to describe what is missing in our current discourse. This talk looks to artists, particularly the renowned choreographer Bill T. Jones, for practices of empathy-building that align with current cognitive scientific understandings of how humans relate to others whom they perceive as different from themselves. Exploring movement-based works as experiments in empathy-building and community development may offer tactics for revitalizing democratic principles toward practices of equity and differentiated solidarity.
Ariel Nereson is an assistant professor of dance studies and director of graduate dance at the University at Buffalo - SUNY. Her current book project, Democracy Moving: Bill T. Jones, Contemporary American Performance, and the Racial Past, analyzes the choreography of Bill T. Jones as public intellectual labor, Black aesthetic praxis and historical knowledge. She sits on the board of the American Theatre and Drama Society and is the book review editor for Theatre History Studies. Her publications can be found in Theatre Journal, Theatre Survey, American Quarterly, Studies in Musical Theatre and forthcoming in Dance Research Journal, amongst others. She is also a choreographer and dramaturg.