Looking Ahead

Julie B. Johnson, Editor

The Dancer-Citizen is wide open to the experiences and perspectives of those who choose to engage with it. We are excited by its potential to be driven by the contributions and responses of dancer/scholars working from a range of perspectives. This is also a particularly unnerving prospect.  To forge ahead down this undetermined path is to trust that all have access to it — the means or interest to respond. It is a precarious endeavor to attempt to create a space for, and honor, the practices of dancer/scholars past and present and communities of dancer-citizens across the globe in such a way that one voice does not silence another. It is to trust that during those moments this project fails in this endeavor — and we do believe it is inevitable — that the conversation will not end there. It is our hope that instead, conversations will grow as our readership speaks up through words and movement and video and song and any other medium they choose, to voice how we as a collective can improve in our efforts to make space for and honor each other, to move forward in responding and challenging and addressing the world’s “wicked problems,” especially as they may manifest in our very own practices.

How might we engage in more nuanced conversations that reflect the complexities of our world, complicate singular perspectives, and provide entry points to conversations in which we might not otherwise engage? How can we recognize, for example, that what feels like progressive democratic practices in dance can uphold tenets of inclusivity and access for some, while for others these same practices might actually perpetuate structural racism and marginalization?

To look forward, we suggest looking back and recognizing the problematic history from which academic journals in the United States emerged. The boundaries of Western-centered patriarchal colonial framework are embedded in the labels we are hard pressed to replace… contemporary dance, traditional, folk, disability, concert, community, citizen, democracy, just to name a few.  To say we hope to hear from contributors working outside of “Western concert dance,” reveals the instability of this category (what is “Western concert dance” and what is it not? What are we saying/doing when we use the phrase “outside of”?) We would indeed like to hear from those concerned with diasporic perspectives, the border-crossing and border-less, disability, and queerness. And we also invite contributions that address directly or indirectly, the ways in which terms can limit us, yet carry with them a vast range of histories and experiences that inform us and affirm us.  And so, for future issues of the The Dancer-Citizen, we welcome contributions that complicate, uplift, critique, celebrate, and/or resist these labels. Likewise, we welcome contributions that ignore them altogether and propose new framework.

As Annie Tucker argued during our editing process, The Dancer-Citizen has as its heritage the academic journal—with the additional hope of being more inclusive of different, equally valuable voices that could and should be contributing to the conversation. It also reaches to be something more living and responsive—multi-modal and interdisciplinary, endeavoring to jump off the page or extend beyond the screen into real-time dialogue, with in-person support, skill-sharing and brainstorming, and live performance.

We offer this inaugural issue to share in dialogue, and we eagerly await to see where you will take us.