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16th June, 2021

Central Research@Work: Ella Parry-Davies and Tia-Monique Uzor

Royal Central School of Speech and Drama - University of London

Event Details

16th June, 2021
18:30 - 20:00

Ella Parry-Davies and Tia-Monique Uzor present papers on their current research projects.

Ella Parry-Davies: Tangential Performance: Soundwalking with migrant domestic workers in Beirut

This paper draws on collaborative practice-research making soundwalks with migrant domestic workers in Lebanon’s capital, Beirut, in 2019. It engages Neferti X. M. Tadiar’s notion of “tangential practices” as a way of exploring the politics of theatrical and everyday performances by migrant domestic workers. What could tangential mean if used to describe performance? It may work dramaturgically to unravel performance modes; or materially to siphon resources away from the transnational circulation of bodies, labour and capital that conditions domestic workers’ lives in migration. In this paper I use the framework to discuss performances I attended in a Filipino Catholic church in Beirut, and a soundwalk I collaborated on with Alehandro, a 55-year-old lesbian guitarist in the church band. In these cases, the tangential sustains attention to the often complex, gentle, unpredictable, or inconsistent politics of migrant domestic workers’ performance practices, eschewing over-determining dichotomies of victimisation and “resistance” prevalent in representations of their lives.

Ella Parry-Davies is a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, and facilitates a collection of soundwalks made with migrant domestic workers at Prior to joining Central she was a Visiting Scholar at De La Salle University Manila, and holds a jointly-funded PhD from the National University of Singapore and King’s College London. She has published in Theatre Journal, Anti-Trafficking Review and The Routledge Companion to Theatre and Politics, and has served as a researcher/consultant for Kanlungan Filipino Consortium and Anti-Slavery International. She co-convenes the PSi working group on Performance and Critical Social Praxis.

Twitter: @EllaParryDavies

Tia-Monique Uzor: Tidalectics, Digital Methods, and the Performance of African Diasporic Memory and Imagination in the Katherine Dunham Dance Company

Over the course of her career, choreographer and anthropologist Katherine Dunham created over 225 dance pieces that reflected real and imagined worlds across the Americas, Africa, and beyond. The precarious nature of being an unsubsidised African-American woman-led company saw Dunham’s repertory pieces expand, contract and transform in response to the needs of the company (see Bench and Elswit 2021). Following scholarly enquiry into how repertory changes over time (DeFrantz, 2005; Azmi, 2008; Elswit, 2008), this work-in-progress presentation uses data and visualisations created by the Dunham’s Data: Katherine Dunham and Digital Methods for Dance Historical Inquiry project to tell an intricate story of the evolvement of Dunham’s repertory. Adopting a tidalectic (Brathwaite and Mackey, 1999) framework from Caribbean Studies I utilise data to trace the rhythms and patterns of these shifts across the Black Atlantic and consider how we might think about rupture and continuity. In this, I expand the tidalectic frame from the Caribbean to the wider African Diaspora and consider what the data reveals to us about the creation and survival of African Diasporic imagination and memory in the mid-twentieth century.

Tia-Monique Uzor is a dance scholar and practitioner who is interested in themes of identity, popular culture, resistance, and feminism within African and African Diasporic dance. Her research critically engages Africanist dance as a vehicle for creating and interrogating African and African Diasporic worlds through interdisciplinary approaches and embodied research. Her AHRC and Midlands4cities funded PhD was concerned with identity formation within the choreographed movement of British Caribbean Diasporic artists. Tia-Monique has both presented and taught her work internationally and has published within collections in the fields of dance, geography and Black feminism. She is currently a dance history postdoctoral research assistant for Dunham’s Data: Katherine Dunham and Digital Methods for Dance Historical Inquiry at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and a postdoctoral research fellow in the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences for Creative Approaches to Race and In/Security in the Caribbean and the UK at the University of Birmingham.


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