Sunday, September 13, 7pm
Alessandra Williams and Yuichiro Onishi explore the world of Ananya Dance Theatre. Williams shares the rich details of the techniques of Ananya Dance Theatre’s specific dance form called Yorchhā, especially how it enacts the multiplicity of dancers’ strong physical presence, bodies, movements, and lived experiences to transform the very genre of contemporary dance. She talks about her own process of transformation in this very specific milieu and artists’ collective, moving through Black feminism and women of color feminism to transnational feminism. The conversation also introduces a specific case of collaboration between Laurie Carlos, a versatile Black woman artist, and Artistic Director Ananya Chatterjea to delineate Afro-Asian aesthetic authority.
Alessandra Williams, Ph.D., a dancer and scholar, is assistant professor of dance at Rutgers University-New Brunswick. Her academic interests include dance and performance studies, Asian and African diaspora, transnational feminism, and queer of color theory. Having joined the St. Paul-based Ananya Dance Theatre to train in the company’s Yorchhā technique in 2006, Williams has since danced in eight of its major public performances. Alongside Ananya Chatterjea and Hui Wilcox, Williams is co-editor of their forthcoming book on transnational feminism and dance.
Historian Yuichiro Onishi, Ph.D., is an African Americanist trained as an historian of modern America. His work focused on the African American-led unfinished struggle for democracy in the 20th century called the Black freedom movement that intersects with places rarely seen as centers of the African American experience, namely Japan and Okinawa. For the past two years, he served as Interim Executive Director of the University of Minnesota’s Immigration History Research Center, and he is currently chairperson of the African American and African Studies Department. He is serving his second term as a member of the Board of the East Side Freedom Library. His academic interests have focused on Afro-Asian solidarity and his publications include “Transpacific Antiracism: Afro-Asian Solidarity in 20th Century Black America, Japan, and Okinawa” (2013) and “Transpacific Correspondence: Dispatches from Japan’s Black Studies” (2019).