By Published: Dec. 9, 2022

CU Boulder, Old Dominion dance professors to discuss dance’s role in social change on Dec. 15

What role does dance play in social change and repair?

That’s the question that award-winning choreographer and University of Colorado Boulder Assistant Professor of Dance Helanius J. Wilkins and Kate Mattingly, a nationally recognized scholar and assistant professor in the Department of Communication and Theatre Arts at Old Dominion University, will discuss on Thursday, Dec. 15, at the Mi Chantli Art and Movement Sanctuary.

University of Colorado Boulder Assistant Professor of Dance Helanius J. Wilkins dancing on stage

At the top of the page and above: University of Colorado Boulder Assistant Professor of Dance Helanius J. Wilkins performing on stage.

Doors for the event, titled Walking and Tracing Creative Portals: Activating Archives for Belonging and Equity, will open at 6:45 p.m., and the program starts at 7 p.m. Seating is limited for this free event, and reservations are strongly encouraged. Light refreshments will be available.

Additionally, Wilkins will discuss his latest and most ambitious national work to date, a multi-year venture: The Conversation Series: Stitching the Geopolitical Quilt to Re-Body Belonging. This performance focuses on an interracial, male duet that explores the “value of bodies coexisting—sharing weight and responsibility, dancing to become better ancestors.”

As the dancers “travel” to make and share this work, they stitch together a “dance-quilt” to broaden people’s understandings of what it means to be American and to “sew ourselves together anew.”

Wilkins’ Conversation Series will feature new choreographies, a documentary film and a digital archive of the process and performance. This event also will include the first screening of a new documentary short (see trailer) that highlights Wilkins’ process for working with communities through this work, plus a Q&A with the audience.

Wilkins’ project brings together artists, humanitarians, social justice activists, diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice consultants, and members of diverse, intergenerational communities nationwide.

A native of Lafayette, Louisiana, Wilkins has choreographed and directed more than 60 works. From 2001 to 2014, he was the founder and director of the EDGEWORKS Dance Theater in Washington, D.C., an all-male dance company of predominantly African American men.

He won the 2008 Pola Nirenska Award for Contemporary Achievement in Dance, the highest honor given by the Washington Performing Arts Society, as well as the 2002 and 2006 Millennium Stage Kennedy Center Local Dance Commissioning Project Award.

Earlier this year, Wilkins won a $10,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts for a choreographed duet intended to “heal and unite” and to reflect “re-bodying belonging to become better ancestors.”

This event is co-sponsored by the University of Colorado Boulder Office for Outreach and Engagement and the Boulder County Arts Alliance.