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$95 – Registration for Saturday only

*Those wishing to perform must attend Saturday’s workshops*

Performers Click Here


Saturday 7/29 Workshops location :  The Children’s House, 5363 N. Long Lake Rd, Traverse City, MI 49684 (SHOWCASE WILL BE AT THIS LOCATION:  Ignite Tickets )

Sunday 7/30 Workshop location –  Twin Lakes Park @Gilbert Lodge


Workshop 1 – Saturday, July 29th, 11:00am – 1:00pm

Swelling to the Surface:  Breath and Body

“I have a deep love for fantastical theatricality and great dance production. Alternately, I have a profound respect for the inherent intelligence of the body when it is freed from the bounds of showmanship.”

This workshop steps away from the focus on performance and skill acquisition to engage the domain of bodily truth. We will begin with breath work and proceed gently towards a movement session rooted in fusion vocabulary, but unconcerned with counts, phrasing, sequencing, and/or structure.

“I will offer theoretical highlights from my 25 years of study in sacred and transcendental dance traditions (North Africa, Central and West Africa, Caribbean Islands, Brazil, Louisiana). We will also discuss current understandings of why our brains and neurological systems respond to movement in such specific ways. Deliberate breath work will serve as the barometer for integration and the touchstone of expanding the senses. I offer my pledge of a thoughtful, conscientious, and carefully guided passage… an invitation to let dance move through you and bring you to a broader sense of self. This will not be a workshop about any specific beliefs or dogma.  Rather, it will serve as an intentional laboratory for one aspect of dance celebrated by over half of the world’s cultures… dance as a technology for expanded consciousness.” – Donna

*Comfortable clothing will be very important for your best experience. All experience levels, body types and gender expressions will be embraced and welcomed.*

Workshop 2 – Saturday, July 29th, 2:00pm – 4:00pm

Translating Two Worlds to Each Other: Improvisational Fusion Dance and Contemporary/Modern Improvisational Dance

Improvisation is part of every dance genre, but the contemporary or modern dance community has delved into theoretical explorations that can translate usefully to tribal fusion forms, and even take some of our community’s ideas much further. Some of these concepts were artfully elucidated by Nancy Stark Smith, one of the original dancers of the Contact Improvisation movement started in the 1970’s. She calls her system “The Underscore”:

• Arriving energetically/physically
• Preambulation
• Skinesphere and Kinesphere
• Mobilizing/Agitating the Mass
• Categories of Experiential Movement: Connection, coincidence, attraction, repulsion, influence, confluence, divergence, intersection, contrast, resonance, collision and tangent
• Stages of Development, Reflection, Harvest, and Resolution,
• Humorous concepts such as: telescoping, listening, observing, gapping, sway patterns, streaming, and the “idiot button”

This workshop will highlight some essential practices from the other communities of Improv dance, and introduce movers to Nancy Stark Smith’s framework for improvisational dance.

Our second inspiration for this practice will be GaGa technique, originated by Ohad Naharin of Israel’s Batsheva dance company. His transformative approach to dance practice has inspired leagues of devotees, and offers a rich entry point for improvisational dancing.

No modern or contemporary background is required, and light partnering will be included. This is a perfect laboratory to investigate what the spirit of dance does in your body when ALL phrasing and structure is set aside. Please bring note-taking supplies and wear comfortable attire that allows complete freedom of

*Please bring note-taking supplies and wear comfortable attire that allows complete freedom of movement without self-consciousness or constraint.*

Workshop 3 – Sunday, July 30th, 11:00am – 1:00pm

Keynote Lecture:  

Spotlight on Hyper-sexuality: Historical Perspectives, Projections, Gender Expectations, and Our Choices

Historically, “bellydance” and Near Eastern dance has frequently been categorized as licentious, unrefined, artless—and in cases of extreme misunderstanding—vulgar. Yet despite this regrettable labeling and caricatured imaging, the dance form persists in attracting practitioners from all communities and walks of life. Near Eastern dance movements are the oldest to survive industrialization. For that reason alone the
dance deserves careful examination, study, and reflection on its continued relevance and ongoing transformations throughout the ages. In this presentation, Donna Mejia will provide an overview of the historical, social, legal and religious influences that continue to perpetuate discriminatory views of Near Eastern dance as hypersexualized. She then highlights developments in gender studies that challenge our coding of what society presumes to be masculine and feminine, or “inherent” in gender differences. With her
usual candor and humor, Donna will address the very controversial issues we have all encountered… at one time or another… in our love for, and dedication to, this genre. As a special treat, Donna’s presentation includes rare film footage and a recommended reading list for further study.

About Donna:

donna3-collageAs a transnational fusion dance artist, Donna Mejia’s distinctive aesthetic dialogs the secular dances of North Africa and the Arab World with American Hip Hop dance and sub-genres of electronic dance. Donna also teaches the Brazilian Silvestre Dance Technique and is a primary representative after twenty years of practice. Donna received her Master of Fine Arts degree from Smith College on full fellowship, has been a guest artist in residence for eighteen colleges. In October of 2011, she was selected by the Fulbright

She received her Master of Fine Arts degree from Smith College on full fellowship, has been a guest artist in residence for eighteen colleges. In October of 2011, she was selected by the Fulbright Association to present the 2011 Selma Jeanne Cohen Endowed lecture for International 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.”

She joined the University of Colorado at Boulder’s Theatre and Dance department in 2012 as the first Assistant Professor of tribal fusion dance globally. Donna continued her research on Digital Diasporas by producing the first academic Viral Dance Colloquium in 2014 (CU Boulder) and is currently working on several writing projects.

She was the 2013 keynote speaker for Syracuse University’s Symposium on Public Diplomacy and was selected by USA Today as a prominent artist in their review of new images of Black Women in contemporary media (February 2015). Donna was the choreographer and solo dancer featured in the 2015 NYC off-Broadway production of 11 Reflections on September, and performed the show at the venerable LaMama Theatre (three-week run), The Apollo Theater, and The Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. Donna joined the research and development team of Kenji Williams’ Bella Gaia/Origin Stories/BEE project in 2016, and is helping to imagine, develop and deploy new perceptualization tools, platforms, research communication methods, social environments, performance venues, and pedagogical and ethical domains in service of a viable future (

She balances her time teaching and touring internationally to teach, lecture, and perform for private sponsors, festivals, and community organizations.  (

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