UMass Music and Dance to Host Two Dance Conferences in March

Aston K. McCullough
Aston K. McCullough
Paul Dennis
Paul Dennis

In early March of 2021, the UMass Amherst department of music and dance will host two virtual conferences exploring new approaches and applications for the field of dance. Pre-registration for both events is required – visit for links and information.

From March 9-12, the UMass dance program will present its second Dance Science Symposium via Zoom video conference. The multi-day event has been organized by assistant professor Aston K. McCullough, director of the UMass Laboratory for the Scientific Study of Dance (LAB:SYNC), which was recently designated as a National Endowment for the Arts Research Lab.  

Grounded in the premise that science is not separate from art, the symposium features original research conducted by professional dancers who are simultaneously active in the field of dance science and medicine. The panel of speakers reflects diversity in praxis and theory with respect to their dance training and performance histories, as well as in their respective areas of scientific inquiry and expertise. Each day’s presentation will focus on a different topic within the emerging field of dance science, with a panel discussion on the final evening featuring all involved presenters. This year’s schedule is as follows:

  • Tuesday, March 9, 6 p.m. - Allison Seifert, Ph.D., Central Connecticut State University
  • Wednesday, March 10, 6 p.m. - Kirstan Clifford, M.Sc., Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance
  • Thursday, March 11, 6 p.m. - Barry Parker, Ph.D., and Jessica Sudock, Ph.D., Shenandoah University
  • Friday, March 12, 6 p.m. - Peggy Gould, MFA, Sarah Lawrence College
  • Friday, March 12, 7 p.m. - Panel Discussion:  McCullough, Discussant; Panelists: Seifert, Clifford, Parker, Gould

On Saturday, March 13, the UMass dance program will host a virtual conference titled “Beyond the Proscenium: Access,” in partnership with Five College Dance.  Organized by associate professor of dance Paul Dennis, the conference aims to spotlight multiple approaches to scholarly and creative research in collegiate-level dance programs. The day-long event will include panels and webinars, studio classes taught by renowned instructors, oral presentations, interest groups/discussions, and creative workshops.  Featured presentations include a webinar on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) in fance led by a collective of Five College Dance educators, and a special film and conversation event with two of America’s leading hip-hop dance artists, Rennie Harris and Jon Boogz, which is presented in cooperation with the UMass Fine Arts Center.

Presenters at the conference will include UMass Dance faculty Lauren Cox and Molly Christie González; Five College Dance faculty Chris Aiken (Smith College), Shakia Barron, Barbie Diewald (Mount Holyoke College) and Jenna Riegel (Amherst College); plus guest speakers Gerald Casel, Cynthia McLaughlin, Cathy Nicoli, Samantha Speis, and Meredith Aleigha Wells.