The 2013 Faculty Distinguished Lecture, “The Hair Project: Negotiating the Politics of the Body,” presented by Professor of Dance Sherry Shapiro on March 12 featured dance and a discussion of the identity politics of hair.
“Hair styles can tell us about our world and ourselves,” Shapiro said. “It has served both to oppress and to liberate us.”
Shapiro’s lecture was inspired by her time as a Fulbright Scholar in South Africa. She gave the audience a glimpse of her Fulbright research project, which focused on dance education in the new South African curriculum. She examined the implications for dance education in the process of democratic transformation.
During the lecture, Shapiro described a community dance project completed in 2009 in Cape Town, South Africa. The project used a process Shapiro developed at Meredith. She describes the process as using “dance as a vehicle for increasing both self and social understanding among students.”
Shapiro used video highlights to show how the process worked in South Africa. The choreographic work was a process for increasing personal reflection, written narrative, movement and cultural analysis.
In this process, “the dancer is valued not simply as a body but for her experiences,” Shapiro said. “It is about their own lives, what shapes how they think, feel and act.”
The presentation ended with a performance of Hair Peace, a collaboration with Meredith dance students.
The first Faculty Distinguished Lecture was presented by Norma Rose in December 1964. According to “Faculty Distinguished Lectures 1964-1981,” the lecture series recognizes “a significant achievement of research by a faculty member.” This event is sponsored by Meredith’s convocation committee.
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