‘Move on Up’ symposium gets deep with pop culture

From hip hop activism to traditional Korean dance as an act of socio-political defiance, critical explorations reveal deeper meaning to popular dance than its athletic and entertaining surface levels.

Move on Up: Popular Culture and Dance Research Symposium will bring emerging and established performance scholars together April 16 at Toronto’s Centre for Social Innovation to share their research into the politics, gender and legitimation surrounding popular dance.

The presenting organization, PoP (Performances of the Popular) Moves is a UK-based international working group for popular performance research. Move on Up is Canada’s first PoP Moves event, leading up to the Popular Culture Association of Canada conference to be held in Niagara Falls in May.

Mary Fogarty

Mary Fogarty

The symposium is organized by Professor Mary Fogarty, a co-founder of PoP Moves and a B-girl who teaches performance and critical theory in York’s Department of Dance.

Move on Up is designed to support emerging researchers who are primarily focused on studying art forms that are systemically undervalued or neglected in academic study,” Fogarty said. “it’s a forum where these scholars can share their research, receive feedback, and build bridges to the work of other scholars working in emerging fields.”

The symposium features three panel discussions: Performing Protest: Political Aesthetics in Popular Dance Practice, New Perspectives on B-boying/B-girling, and Cross-Cultural Exchanges and Legitimation.

Fogarty presents “The Breathing Project:  Hip Hop Activism and Academic Advocacy” as part of the Performing Protest panel, and moderates the panel on B-boying/B-girling.

York undergraduate and graduate students and alumni speakers from dance, visual art, theatre and sociology share the podium with Fogarty, popular and digital cultural theorist and Brock University Professor Laura Wiebe, and Montreal-based choreographer, dancer and interdisciplinary performance artist Helen Simard, a doctoral candidate at L’Université du Québec à Montréal.

Montreal-based choreographer, dancer and interdisciplinary performance artist Helen Simard

Montreal-based choreographer, dancer and interdisciplinary performance artist Helen Simard

In her presentation, “Popular Music, Language- learning, and Cross-Cultural  Communication in the Classroom”, Wiebe shares the benefits and challenges she experienced leading a collaborative learning project on popular music with students drawn from an advanced English as a Second Language class and from a popular music and society class.

Laura Weibe

Laura Weibe

Simard’s contribution’ “B-girl Terra: Renegotiating Gender Online and On The Dance Floor”, stems from her academic research on the construction and performance of social and gender identity in b-boy/b-girl culture, and how individuals interact with media representations of their dance practices.

Patricia Wong, a Master’s candidate in Dance at York, looks through history to illustrate her topic, “Korean Traditional Dance as Means of Sociopolitico Defiance”. From Talnori masked dances reflecting the hardships of poverty or satirizing the wealthy elite, to the Kisaengs (courtesans) improvising songs and poems in defiance of social order and most recently, the folk song at student protests during martial law in the ‘60s and ‘80s, Wong shares how Korean performing arts serve as a passionate expression of political discontent.

Patricia Wong

Patricia Wong

Alumna Deanne Kearney (BFA Spec. Hons. ‘14) presents “The Multiple Legitimacies of Tentacle Tribe”, exploring how an emerging hip hop dance company negotiates artistic identities in the popular culture world, finding acceptance across competing discourses of entertainment, street dance and theatrical art.

A full schedule of speakers and topics is available online (PDF).

The Move on Up symposium is co-presented by York University and Brock University in collaboration with the Popular Culture Association of Canada. It takes place Thursday, April 16 from 1 to 5pm in the 4th floor Innovation Lab at the Centre for Social Innovation, 215 Spadina Avenue in Toronto. Admission is free but space is limited. To attend, email Mary Fogarty with subject heading “Move on up RSVP.”

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