From ‘White Privilege’, performed in New York City, 2018. Image credit: Ian Douglas

Wire #16: On Accountability: In Search of Lost Ethics in Performing Arts Programming

Thu 24 Feb 2022

In recent years, we’ve witnessed an increasing number of situations in performing arts programming which led to content or context being (mis)appropriated, tokenised, exoticised, othered, or entangled in problematic funding or institutional ‘arrangements’. These presenting practices translate a lack of cultural intelligence, competence and leadership that would allow to engage with situations of cultural  diversity and cultural complexity in ways that are at once accountable, transparent, politically alert, equitable and ethical.

This conversation will highlight some concrete changes that presenters/curators need to contemplate in their programming practices and skillsets in order to present embodied cultural specificity in culturally competent ways. It’s an invitation to revisit our modus operandi and zones of comfort that will hopefully lead to a new sense of response-ability, of accountability to the artists and their works, as well as a re-calibration of institutional ethics.

This conversation is curated and hosted by Angela Conquet (AUS), and panel members include Merindah Donnelly (AUS), Yanira Castro (USA), Ananya Chatterjea (USA) and Thomas F DeFrantz (USA).

This conversation will be live-captioned and it will have AUSLAN interpretation. Please contact us at if you have accessibility requirements.


Angela Conquet, Host
Angela is a Melbourne-based independent dance curator, consultant and editor, working across and within a multiplicity of disciplines, contexts and territories, locally and globally. Her 20-year career spans two continents, Europe and Australia and brings curatorial, artistic and executive expertise in performing arts, festivals, arts leadership, publishing, arts policy and advocacy. She is the former Artistic Director/CEO of Dancehouse Melbourne (2011-2020) and more recently, Guest Curator of  the 2021 edition of Dance in Vancouver. Prior to relocating to Australia in 2011, she led the dance AIR programs of Mains d’Oeuvres, Paris’ largest independent arts centre. She is currently the Managing Editor of Dancehouse Diary, a member of AND+/Asia Network for Dance, of the Green Room Awards Dance Panel and a recent fellow of the Saison Foundation Japan. She is currently undertaking a PHD in dance-specific curatorial practices at the University of Melbourne.

Merindah Donnelly
Merindah is a descendant of Wiradjuri people, a proud Koori living in Meanjin, Queensland and is currently co-CEO and Executive Producer of BlakDance. Merindah has worked in Market Development at the Australia Council for the Arts and as a producer and curator nationally and internationally. In 2015 Merindah was a global International Society of Performing Arts fellow (ISPA), and worked with Margo Kane at the Talking Stick Festival in Vancouver. In 2018 Merindah was awarded a Sidney Myer Creative Fellowship and in 2020 she completed her Masters in Cultural Leadership MFA at NIDA. Merindah is currently an Australia Council International Society of Performing Arts Fellow.

Yanira Castro
Yanira is a Puerto Rican interdisciplinary artist living in Lenapehoking (Brooklyn, New York) and making work under the moniker, a canary torsi. Working at the intersection of performance, installation, social practice, and technology, she forms iterative projects in response to site and community. Her work is rooted in communal construction as a practice of radical democracy inviting the public into co-creation. Her work has been commissioned and presented by New York Live Arts, The Chocolate Factory Theater, Danspace Project, The Invisible Dog Art Center, Dance Theater Workshop, ISSUE Project Room and The Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. Her work has toured throughout the United States. She has received two NY Dance & Performance Awards (aka Bessies) in 2020 for Last Audience commissioned and presented by New York Live Arts and in 2009 for Dark Horse/Black Forest presented by Performance Space 122 in the lobby restroom of The Gershwin Hotel. In 2018, she collaborated with choreographer Melinda Ring on a version of Simone Forti’s Dance Construction, See Saw, for the Museum of Modern Art’s exhibit, Judson Dance Theater: The Work is Never Done. In June 2019, she collaborated with artist Kathy Couch on a public art piece,, for the Prague Quadrennial. She adapted the performance, Last Audience, into a printed manual for the public to perform at home during the pandemic for the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago in Fall 2020. Castro was the facilitator for and co-compiler and author of Creating New Futures: Phase 1, Working Guidelines for Ethics and Equity in Presenting Dance & Performance and Creating New Futures: Phase 2, Notes for Equitable Funding from Arts Workers.

Ananya Chatterjea
Ananya / অনন্যা চট্টোপাধ্যায় ‘s work as choreographer, dancer, and thinker brings together contemporary dance, social justice choreography, and a commitment to healing justice. She is the creator of Ananya Dance Theatre’s signature movement vocabulary, Yorchhā, and the primary architect of the company’s justice- and community-oriented choreographic methodology, Shawngrām. She is a 2011 Guggenheim Choreography Fellow, a 2012 and 2021 McKnight Choreography Fellow, a 2016 Joyce Award recipient, a 2018 UBW Choreographic Center Fellow, a 2019 Dance/USA Artist Fellow, and recipient of the 2021 A. P. Andersen Award. Her work has toured internationally to the Bethlehem International Performing Arts Festival, Palestinian Territories (2018), Crossing Boundaries Festival, Ethiopia (2015), Harare International Dance Festival, Zimbabwe (2013), New Waves Institute of Dance and Performance, Trinidad (2012), Aavejak Avaaz Festival, India (2018), and Ocean Dance Festival, Bangladesh (2019). Domestic tour venues include the Kelly Strayhorn Theater (Pittsburgh), John Michael Kohler Arts Center (Sheboygan), Dance Place (Washington), Maui Arts & Cultural Center (Maui), and Painted Bride Theater (Philadelphia), among others. In response to the Twin Cities Uprising (2020), she created the Kutumkāri (Relationship-making) Healing Movement series with a particular invitation to BIPOC women and femme healers. Ananya is Professor of Dance at the University of Minnesota where she teaches courses in Dance Studies and contemporary practice. Her second book, Heat and Alterity in Contemporary Dance: South-South Choreographies, re-framing understandings of Contemporary Dance from the perspective of dance-makers from global south locations, was published by Palgrave McMillan in November 2020.

Thomas F DeFrantz
Thomas is Professor at Northwestern University, and director of SLIPPAGE: Performance, Culture, Technology, a research group that explores emerging technology in live performance applications. He co-convened the Choreography and Corporeality working group (IFTR) from 2005-2013, and acted as President of the Society of Dance History Scholars from 2011-2014. He has taught courses in dance, gender, race, theatre, and Black studies at New York University, Yale, Stanford, Hampshire College, Hollins University, Duke University, the University of the Arts, and the University of Nice. His books include Dancing Many Drums: Excavations in African American Dance (2002), Dancing Revelations Alvin Ailey’s Embodiment of African American Culture (2004), and Black Performance Theory (2014). His creative productions include Queer Theory! An Academic Travesty, commissioned by the Theatre Offensive of Boston and the Flynn Center for the Arts, and Monk’s Mood: A Performance Meditation on the Life and Music of Thelonious Monk, performed in Botswana, France, India, South Africa, and New York City. He convenes the Black Performance Theory working group. In 2013, working with Takiyah Nur Amin, he founded the Collegium for African Diaspora Dance, a growing consortium of 350 artist-researchers that staged the conference “dancingBLACKtogether” in 2022.  He recently taught at New Waves Institute in Port of Spain, the SNDO in Amsterdam, and ImPulsTanz in Vienna.