In addition to key notes the event will include papers, conversations, and performances,
featuring work from artists and academics. Here is a taster of who is joining us:


Professor Thomas F Defrantz - Black thought in motion


Choreographer, dancer, and scholar Thomas F. DeFrantz has a joint appointment as Professor in the dance program

and African and African American Studies department at Duke University. His first book, entitled Dancing Many Drums: Excavations in African American Dance for the SDHS series Studies in Dance History, won the Erroll Hill Award for Research in Black Theater. His second book was the riveting Revelations: Alvin Ailey’s Embodiment of African American Culture, and his widely cited articles and essays on the black body in dance constitute some of the most exciting work

in the area today. He served as archivist for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and organized the dance history program at the Ailey school for many years. Creatively, he has created music for the Dance Theatre of Harlem, choreographed the play for young people Paul Robeson, All-American, written by Ossie Davis, and collaborated

with Ballet Hispanico on Border Crossings. For years he was also active with the Theater Offensive of Boston, who produced his original musical play, Queer Theory: An Academic Travesty. The intersection of academic work and

dance practice also manifests itself in his role as founder and artistic director of artistic director of SLIPPAGE: Performance|Culture|Technology. DeFrantz is a founding member of the Collegium of African Disapora Dance.







Sharon Watson  DL - Displaced positivity and the power of voice


After studying at London Contemporary Dance School, Sharon graduated from the BPA (Hons) in Contemporary Dance at NSCD in 1997. Sharon Watson is the fourth Principal of the Northern School of Contemporary Dance. Prior to this she was the longest-standing Artistic Director of Phoenix Dance Theatre. Her journey with the company began when she was one of the first female Principal Dancers invited to join the all-male award-winning company, touring from 1989 to 1997 and choreographing Never Still and Shaded Limits. Having left Phoenix to pursue a number of other ventures including setting up her own company ABCD, Sharon returned in 2009 as the new Artistic Director. Sharon choreographed numerous works for the company including thecelebrated Windrush: Movement of the People and Black Waters.

In November 2020, Sharon was appointed as a Deputy Lieutenant of West Yorkshire.








Michael Douglas Kollektiv and Dana Caspersen  – The  Polarity Party


Michael Douglas Kollektiv based in Cologne in 2009 with Michael Maurissens. focus on research and collaborative

art production and the development of collective creation methods in the performance context. By means of an independent and responsible structure, the collective faces the challenges of its artistic decisions, such as working

as a non-hierarchical structure, reducing the usual temporal parameters for artistic process development (One Week Stand), and advancing a dialogue and fostering exchange at the interfaces to disciplines and themes such as communication, architecture, sociology, psychology, and conflict resolution.


Dana Caspersen has  an MS in Conflict Studies and Mediation, an MFA in Dance and have received several international awards for creative achievement. Her book Changing the Conversation: The 17 Principles of Conflict Resolution is being translated into 8 languages and is on required reading lists and professional development guides at institutions ranging from the University of Southern California and Boxhill Institute, to the design-led technology start-up, ROLI and the Dallas Law College.


With 30 years as an award-winning performing artist, she has authored, performed and toured works worldwide— principally as a primary collaborator of choreographer William Forsythe and a member of the renowned ensembles

Ballet Frankfurt and The Forsythe Company. This practice of developing agile physical and mental response strategies informs her work in conflict. It has shaped her understanding of conflict as vehicle for transformation and positive change.



Michelle Mann – SL in Dance Edge Hill University


On graduating from Elmhurst Ballet School in 1989, Michelle developed her professional career in Madrid, Spain, establishing her own company in 1996 'Michelle Man & Friends' collaborating extensively with composers, architects, lighting designers, musicians, costume makers, choirs, circus artists and multi-media artists. Her work has been received in Brazil, Chile, Korea, Italy, France, Germany, Canada, Sweden, Spain as well as the UK. She has been commissioned

by the Spanish Government, CDN (Spanish National Theatre), Teatro Real, Teatro Circo Price, and has been awarded funding for research and artistic production. Michelle continues to choreograph internationally across a diverse range

of contexts and disciplines that include contemporary dance, circus, theatre and music performance. She holds a

Masters in Making Performance (awarded Distinction) and is currently a PhD Researcher in Dance at the University

of Surrey, under the supervision of Dr Rachel Hann and Dr Adam Alston with the working title 'Light and the Choreographic'.







Liz Lea- In conversation

Liz is based in Canberra after 20 years in Europe, touring internationally. Liz’s speciality is working with classical

Indian dance and martial arts. She has worked with Ranjabati Sircar, Mavin Khoo, the Royal Opera House and

English Bach Festival. She has been commissioned in India, UK, Australia, South Africa, Singapore and USA.


Liz Lea Dance works include ‘tala rasa Hellas and back’, ‘REflect’ in collaboration with Marie Gabrielle Rotie and ‘Livid’. Liz toured ‘120 Birds’ inspired by Anna Pavlova’s world tours, to Australia and the UK in 2010/12. She has since created ‘InFlight’ inspired by early aviation and ‘Magnificus Magnificus’ inspired by the red-tailed black cockatoo for Indigenous dancer Tammi Gissell. A duet with Bobby Singh titled ‘Kapture’ was inspired by the South African freedom fighter, Ahmed Kathrada.


Liz’s next company work, ‘Bindu’, is due to premier in 2021 in Canberra. Bindu explores the notion of connections between all people’s and the singular point from which we all explore and evolve. The work will include a company

of 6 professional dancers from Australia and Singapore and a company of older performers along with musicians

and dancers living with intellectual disabilities.


Liz Heashot Credit Lorna Sim.png