Donna Mejia is a choreographer, scholar, instructor, 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.
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, University of South Florida, 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 (three 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. In 2014 Donna directed the first Viral Dance Colloquium; an interdisciplinary gathering of scholars and artists to discuss the impact of Internet usage on human affairs. The digital archive for this event can be found at http://cuboulderdance.wordpress.com/. More recently she collaborated with poet Andrea Assaf in performances for the venerable La Mama Theatre in Manhattan, The Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., and with vocalist Mankwe Ndosi for the famous Apollo Theater in Harlem, NY.
Donna completed her undergraduate degree in Business Administration 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. Her choreographic commissions and performances continue to generate outstanding critical reviews from print and digital media.
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,
Ethnomusicology of Hip Hop, Underground Electronica and DJ culture.
All things Sewing!
Classes with Donna Mejia
Keynote Lecture: Second Steps: Being an Ally, Moving Beyond By-stander Syndrome and Having Courageous Conversations:
Despite the media’s portrayal of the world as a very polarized and damaged place, there are many extraordinary people quietly building a society that prizes inclusiveness. There are leagues of hopeful humans preparing for our inevitable global citizenship. There is always room for more additions to this global family of healers, so please come join the conversation already in-progress internationally. We’ll be reviewing recent developments in anti-bias work and scholarship, and examining what we can do as individuals and a community to increase peaceful coexistence. Fusion dance was just the beginning of the important work we’ve started in the world as artists. Ally-ship takes many forms and is never a one-size-fits-all solution. Yet each courageous act of fellowship, no matter how large or small, is meaningful. Please don’t underestimate how your choices disrupt social bias and can tip the scales for a fellow human whom may feel demoralized and disenfranchised. Interestingly, you may find that you always get back more than you give. This workshop will explore definitive steps to move beyond “paralyzed empathy;” becoming effective as a listener, and thoughtful in our support of comrades. The inevitability of our global citizenship mandates we set a seat at our table for other world-views and voices. Do you really wish to make a difference? Please come; your crucial contributions and thoughts will make it better for all. This workshop is for anyone, truly anyone, who wishes accept responsibility for co-creating a viable future regardless of beliefs, political affiliation, cosmology, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender expression, religion, nationality, personality type, body style, veteran status, pregnancy, age, disability, creed, or personal philosophy.
Immersion with Donna Mejia (Pre-TribalCon Intensive; only open to 13 dancers!):
3 Hour Morning Session:
Our morning is a deep dive into somatic science work through breath, yoga, alignment and movement analysis. We will be honing our bodily instruments for maximum sensitivity and sensorial richness.
3 Hour Afternoon Session:
Our afternoon is a courageous exploration into the science and theory of corporeal memory. We will
investigate the body’s methods of archiving emotions and subconscious responses. As dancers, we have an extraordinary capacity for locating, elucidating, and expressing the language of emotions through movement. We will utilize discussion circles, movement experiments, and journaling to increase our tool kits as emotive artists.
A yoga mat, comfortable layers for both movement and contemplation, a journal and writing instrument, headphones and your favorite music on a portable player, a tennis ball, a memento (photo, object, poem, letter, etc. this is open to interpretation), your curiosity, bravery, diplomacy and humor!
5,000+ Years of Knowledge Vetted Through Billions of Humans: The Gifts of Yoga:
Many have tried movements of yoga for fitness purposes, but have not peeked at the theory and history behind this beneficial practice. Please join Donna Mejia for an overview course in the yoga sutras (theoretical writings), contemporary yoga theory, enduring treasures and blossoming innovations to this system of knowledge. You will have the opportunity to investigate and vet these theories through your own practice. This sampler class explains several pedagogical styles of movement practice with accompanying exercises to try yourself. Please bring a yoga mat, a towel, and a belt or strap.
Like A Boss:
Donna guides experienced movers through an intermediate practice session. For this workshop, Donna respectfully requests dancers have a practiced level of courage and fitness when attempting balances, turns, lunges, fast hip work, and extended sequencing/choreography. Mastery is not a requirement, but comfort approaching the unfamiliar in movement is what will be needed. Donna will teach her distinctive fusion class with a full, professional level warm up. Has it been a while since you practiced jumps, turns, balances, cross-the floor progressions, inversions, and choreography to refresh your intermediate/advanced practice? Donna invites you to bring new possibilities back into the body with a dynamic practice session.
Upper Body + Helping Hands:
Donna Mejia will offer a customized practice for increasing the ease and expressive capacity of the upper body. EXCEPTIONAL CLASS NOTE: participants are invited to please bring two cans (soup, vegetables, beans, etc.) that can be used as light weights for several key exercises. We will collect all cans at the end of class and donate them to a local charity of our sponsor’s choice. In this way, we can be powerful as a moving community, and literally expand our reach to uplift those beyond our community. Class will begin with an examination of the shoulder girdle anatomy and alignment for different body types (because differences are to be celebrated). We will take a special focus on trouble-shooting common joint difficulties. The second chapter of our class will overview stretching and conditioning for healthy micro articulation of the arms, back/spine, chest and shoulders. Class will finish with a practice session of poetic movements and accents for our newly pliable (but wonderfully stable) upper bodies. In addition to two canned goods, please bring a yoga mat, a tennis ball and your notebook.