Announcing our Keynote Speaker for 2018- Donna Mejia


Donna Mejia (Assistant Professor, CU Boulder Theatre and Dance) is a choreographer, scholar, director, and performer specializing in contemporary dance, traditions of the African and Arab Diaspora, and emerging fusion traditions in Transnational Electronica. This genre provides a rich arena for the study of cultural imperialism, gender representation and electronic/digital globalization. Donna is also an authorized instructor of the Brazilian Silvestre Modern Dance Technique and is a lauded representative of this esoteric study of dance after 20 years of practice.

Donna completed her undergraduate degree in Business at CU-Boulder, and received her Master of Fine Arts degree on full fellowship from Smith College. She joined the University of Colorado at Boulder as an Assistant Professor of Dance in 2012. She is the first professor of tribal/transnational fusion globally. Donna balances her time teaching and touring throughout the U.S. and abroad, and headlined over 50 national and international festivals since 2012. Her choreographic commissions and performances continue to generate outstanding critical reviews from print and digital media.

For 10 years she was a faculty member at Colorado College and Director of the Colorado College International Summer Dance Festival. For twelve years she served as Managing Director of the award-winning Harambee African Dance Ensemble of CU-Boulder under the amazing leadership of Instructor Emerita Letitia Williams. The Harambee ensemble was awarded the prestigious El Pomar Foundation grant, was featured in the March 1996 issue of Dance Magazine, performed for President Bill Clinton and Nobel Laureate Archbiship Desmond Tutu, is part of the Denver International Airport time capsule, and was hailed as the “Best of Boulder” for 3 years.

Donna was the Guest Artist in Residence for Smith College Dance 2006 – 2009, and has been awarded residencies at the Naropa Institute, Mt. Holyoke College, Hampshire College, University of Northern Colorado, Taipei National University of the Arts, Bucknell University, Earth Dance, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival (three years) and the Bates Dance Festival (two years). She was nominated for a Pikes Peak Area Artist award in 2005.

In October of 2011 she was selected by the Fulbright Association to present the Selma Jeanne Cohen Endowed Lecture for International Dance Scholarship in Dance, notably for her paper “Digital Diasporas and Transnational Dance Communities: The Effects of the Internet on Identity Formation and Collective Cultural Memory.” Her research was also the featured keynote of Syracuse University’s 2012 Symposium on Public Diplomacy.

More recently, Donna has joined the Bella Gaia Production as manager/director of an educational initiative at CU Boulder, and is the director of the Sovereign Collective; a dance ensemble dedicated to community service. Through her many touring activities, Donna thrives in service to many social, spiritual, educational and artistic efforts aimed to create a conscious citizenry and responsible stewards of the globe.

Updates and information can be found at

Research Interests:

•    Gender representation/social coding in movement practices and dance traditions (both domestically and internationally)

•    Transnationalism, overlapping identities, multi-ethnicity and emerging models of global citizenship

•    Investigating how Internet usage is impacting personal identity and collective cultural memory production

•    Ethics/integrity/cultural appropriation issues in dance fusion

•    Evolving norms of cultural tolerance and representation in a remixing and “cut and paste” culture

• Movement training/specialization in yoga, and the dances of Brazil, Mexico, the Caribbean, West Africa (Gambia, Mali, Senegal, Guinea, Nigeria, Ghana), North Africa (Morocco, Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia and Western Sahara), Ethiopia, Northern India, American Modern Dance, Hip Hop, Electronica and DJ Culture.

Thank you for your feedback!

Thank you to the several hundred of you who took the time to share your thoughts about the conference and workshops with us.  I have personally read each evaluation several times, compiled the feedback and shared it with my planning committee and the instructors.

There are a few things that we all agree on:

1. Issue: The food was a problem, both the quality of the lunches that were pre-ordered and the availability of food for those who did not pre-order.

Action Step: I will be meeting with the venue to discuss the problems and will be using a DIFFERENT CATERER next year.

2.  Issue: The schedule needed to be available in a PDF for you to review in advance or print out.

Action Step:  I am having the web site re-designed so that it will be much more user-friendly. In addition, I will provide a downloadable PDF of workshops for you to review and print in advance.  Managing 80 workshop presenters is a little like trying to hit a moving target so we will be adding the Revised Date at the top of each PDF we share.  Workshop presenters are all volunteers and sometimes their lives get in the way of participating, even at the very last minute.  Please be patient with us and them as we try to bring you the most up-to-date information about the schedule.

We will not be printing and mailing a program in advance.  For those of you who previously attended the conference in Mankato, you are used to that.  However, we decided to take the budget line item for printing and mailings and put it toward facility.  The conference never had to pay for facility costs in Mankato because it was sponsored by the University.  As you can imagine, the beautiful Mayo Civic Center is expensive.  We had to decide whether to raise registration prices or eliminate conference printing and mailing.  We decided to do the latter.  Thank you for your suggestions about renting a local college or high school.  We looked into that as well and none of them in Rochester will book more than 6 months in advance.

3.  Issue: Last minute changes were not clearly communicated, particularly for those who didn’t hear the announcements.

Action Step:  We will have a white board by the registration desk for last minute changes that don’t make it into the “Last Minute Changes” handout printed on Friday.

Action Step:  We will make sure that there are signs on each door indicating which workshops are occurring and that those are up-to-date with the last minute changes.

4.  Issue: We didn’t clearly explain the Hospitality Desk.  Most of the questions you had about restaurants, parking, downtown navigation, maps, etc. were ones that we had anticipated and had answers at the Hospitality Desk.

Action Step: We will be more clear in our literature and at Registration that the registration desk also functions as the Hospitality Desk.  We had facility and downtown maps, information about local restaurants, and many more answers to anticipated questions at the Hospitality Desk but clearly didn’t explain that very well.  We will also add a FAQ page to the web site addressing all of the questions that came up this year about being in Rochester.

Thank you for your thoughtful comments and suggestions.  We look forward to seeing you next year!




Dance Workshop taught by Donna Mejia

PLANET DONNA:  A Warm Welcome to my world!

September 24, 2018

Location to be announced.

For those unafraid of new possibilities in human expression, this workshop zooms in to excavate the most efficient tools for unleashing the intelligence of the body in dance. Fascinated by her own multi-heritage background, Donna Mejia studied the classical traditions of many cultures and is the first tenure-track collegiate professor of transnational dance globally. After 30 years of study, she has galvanized a personal practice that defies categorization but aesthetically highlights common denominators between dances of the North African/Arab rural communities, Yoga, Ballet, American Hip-Hop, and Brazilian Silvestre Contemporary technique. Inventive fusion, hardcore rhythms, precision hip work, and athletic challenge are always part of the formula. Please note: you will be subjected to the best music in the universe! You have been warned (wink).

Workshop supplies: generous sense of humor / adventure / courage, yoga mat, athletic or dance attire that permits a full-range of motion, optional footwear for turns and slides, a tennis ball, and note-taking supplies.

Our 3-hour workshop is divided into three chapters:

1.     Part 1 is a dedicated session of somatic work, joint analysis, and alignment investigation featuring introductory tidbits from the revolutionary Sridaiva and Ashtanga Yoga systems, Gyrokinesis, Body Mind Centering, Sylvestre Technique and somatic science practices.  Did you think technique-building bodywork was only clinical? Not so!  The study of consciousness through movement can be remarkably rich.

2.     Part 2 is a movement progression session:  dynamic traveling sequences that focus on big and luscious dance.  Our progression sequences will involve strong cardio/pulmonary engagement, firestorm drills, short moving combinations across the floor, strong propulsion through use of the lower body, and bi-directional/asymmetrical use of the limbs. Next is an isolation and micro-movement precision session. Donna takes you through her personal practice in drilling and movement generation.  Some big moves are on the menu, but we aim to also build intricacy and rhythmic clarity in our movement through remixed hip work.  With music and hardcore beats as a guide, drill practice is about to get juicy.Our goal is to get the upper and lower body intelligently coordinated through our core.

3.     Part 3 is an hour-long Q&A with Donna Mejia.  Please bring your most confounding questions, curiosities and stories to share in this open forum session.  Radical truth rules in this segment, and no question is too far out!