Moving towards critical whiteness in participatory dance productions. Callie Arnold

This collaborative research explores different approaches to anti-racist practice, interrogating white supremacy culture and moving in generative directions in the context of choreographic processes. It strives to move at the speed of trust and relationship-building.

The exchange between structure and emergence was a rich source of questions in this project. We explored two threads of anti-racism work: structural/organizational possibilities and the personal process of tracking one’s own identification with and detangling from white supremacy culture (this term is described on the research website). We experienced how these two threads can emerge alongside and support each other. The leading question is: What will help us sustain our anti-racism work in our artistic teams?

Choreographer and dance therapist Callie Arnold exchanged with her colleagues Amelia Uzategui Bonilla and Cherie Hill, reflecting on three years of collaboration together and specifically on the 2022 dance production “Distant Pulse Here,” which asked the following questions: How does nature mediate our sense of belonging? How do we acknowledge the lineage and complexity of each of our relationships with nature? How do we acknowledge racialized experience as part of this? How do we give ourselves resources to deepen awareness of our identification with, or detangling from, white supremacy culture?

Callie’s research also involved exchanges with critical whiteness supervisor Dr. med. Amma Yeboah, anti-racism mentor Juli Rees, and other members of the “Distant Pulse Here” team. Callie also exchanged ideas with other choreographers who are working around themes of anti-racism.

On my website (as of August 2023) you’ll find a buffet of resources and reflections from
our process:

  • intro to terms (“white supremacy culture,” “white gaze,” “positionality,” etc.)
  • audio recordings of exchanges between Cherie, Amelia and Callie
  • written materials
  • movement practices shared from the “Distant Pulse Here” rehearsal process
  • Callie’s presentation from the tUrn Conference in Santa Clara University (April 2023)
  • Trailer for film version of 2022 “Distant Pulse Here” production

There we share some of our questions and practices about themes including:

  • Ways to turn to nature for support in anti-racism work
  • The role of trauma, mediation and supervision in anti-racism work
  • Interrupting the “white gaze” in performance spaces
  • Where and how activism takes place
  • Practices to nourish autonomy, agency and more effective communication
  • Playing with particularities of Positionality
  • Anti-racism work in organizations from a psychodynamic perspective

Feedback is very welcomed. I am looking forward to future opportunities for exchange.

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