University of Roehampton, London
Choreographed and Performed by Sarah Ashkin
Dramaturgy: Simon Ellis
Part of the core curriculum for my master's program at the University of Roehampton was a module entitled Ways of Knowing. The course offered a series of approaches to research, theory, and approached to 'knowing' the dance body. I found the project of class, to offer an interdisciplinary and many perspective look at what Dance Studies could be fascinating and challenging as from a pedagogical point of view. However, throughout the course, I noticed the majority of proposals of 'ways of knowing' dance offered by my lecturers and the assigned readings were white. Either the knowledge that was given priority in this class was written by white people, about white western concert dance, and made eurocentric assumptions about the knowledge production of the dancing body.
For my cumulative project for Ways of Knowing, I created a performance and writing piece entitled White Ways of Knowing. The White Ways of Knowing performance began with my handing out a portrait a selection of the scholars on our module syllabus to each of my classmates and lecturers who made up the audience. Next, I sang a short rendition of Stevie Nicks' Landslide, drawing a metaphor between nostalgia, oblivion, and racism. The bulk of the performance entailed my taping of the portraits previously handed to the audience to the backs of the chairs arranged in the performance space. By the end, I have amassed the white mob of dancers, scholars, and choreographers making up our Ways of Knowing syllabus.
The White Ways of Knowing writing piece can be found in the writing section of the website. It is a performative, statistical, theoretical poem addressing the whiteness of knowledge production in Dance Studies.