Photo of Gerald Casel by Robbie Sweeney. Courtesy of Gerald Casel.

Photo of Gerald Casel by Robbie Sweeney. Courtesy of Gerald Casel.

Dancing Around Race

HMD's Bridge Project supported choreographer Gerald Casel for a full year as Lead Artist in Dancing Around Race, the 2018 Community Engagement Residency. Members of the artist cohort for Dancing Around Race are: Raissa Simpson, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Sammay Dizon, Yayoi Kambara and David Herrera.  Description of Dancing Around Race by Casel:

My choreographic work complicates and provokes questions surrounding colonialism, cultural amnesia, whiteness and privilege, and the tensions between the invisible/perceived/obvious structures of power. For this residency, I will be engaging with artists as co-interrogators to look closely at the role race plays in dance production and presentation. We will ask how our work as artists functions in society and how the communities we engage with are considered, internalized, and reflected through our work. Employing a 'systems thinking' approach, I hope to connect with sectors of the Bay Area dance ecology and beyond to engage in invigorated dialogue to better understand how all are interconnected. We will invite curators, critics, scholars, dance writers, grantors, collaborators, publicists, and audience members to come together to spark conversations around dance. We will address systems of support, power and privilege, race and colorblind racial ideology, issues and problems around diversity, resilience and sustainability, and more. Working with the premise that all sectors are interdependent, we will promote a culture of empathy so that every part of the dance community feels more visible, heard, and understood. Finally, we will identify issues that dancers, choreographers and their collaborators face and will try to create solutions to problems that may be attributed to misunderstandings, uninformed assumptions, and myths. 

Dancing Around Race included monthly gatherings of the cohort with invited guests and a series of three Public Gatherings that invited the community into the cohort’s process. These public gatherings were:

Thursday, September 20th   Humanist Hall  7 PM
Featuring Aruna D'Souza, author of Whitewalling: Art, Race & Protest in Three Acts
September Forum Press Release
Video footage from the September 20 Dancing Around Race public gathering can be found here:

Friday, October 26 Joe Goode Annex 10:30-12:30 AM
A discussion about how institutional thinking and models can advance equity in the field.
Featuring Barbara Bryan, Executive Director of Movement Research in New York

Thursday, February 28th  518 Valencia 7:30 PM
Featuring Thomas F. DeFrantz, Professor of African and African American Studies and Theater Studies at Duke University
Video footage from the February 28 Dancing Around Race public gathering can be found here:

These gatherings were held in the spirit of long table discussions. In the words of Eva Yaa Asantewaa:

A Long Table conversation--as first conceived by theater artist Lois Weaver--is initiated by an invited core group of participants who "set the table" with food for thought, but it is open, throughout, to other folks, sitting around the perimeter, who can come up and take seats at the table to share their experiences, ideas, questions and insights in a non-hierarchical, non-panel/Q&A setting. They are not so much "audience members" as a listening and contributing community. In this spirit, guests to the gathering are invited to bring a snack or food item to share.


Dancing Around Race READER
Dance writing around race
Building accountability in the dance field
Dancing (In)Equity
Freeing craft
Article about the project by Sima Belmar for In Dance
Blog post about the project by Bhumi Patel
Blog post on Dance Matters by Julian Carter


 Funding for the Community Engagement Residency comes from the San Francisco Arts Commission and the Center for Cultural Innovation's Investing in Tomorrow program. This activity is also supported in part by the California Arts Council, a state agency. Learn more at 


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