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Why Middle Eastern, North African and Central Asian Dances?

Few areas of dance research and writing have been as underrepresented and misunderstood in scholarly literature as MENA (Middle Eastern & North African) and Central Asian dances, whether with regards to historical or contemporary contexts of performance.


However, as witnessed through conferences of the Dance Studies Association (formerly Congress on Research and Dance and Society of Dance History Scholars), the number of presentations in this field has increased. Furthermore, there have been increasing numbers of emerging scholars over the past decade whose research has focused on various aspects of dance genres originating in MENA and Central Asia. These combined, merit a full conference dedicated to new research in these regions and their diaspora communities.


This symposium aims to contribute to debates on decolonization and dance studies. These concerns were discussed during the DSA Conference in Malta (2018), and further explored in the 2020 issue of Decolonizing Dance Discourses and at the most recent DSA Conference in Vancouver (2022).  In addition to decolonization in dance studies, we seek to bring to the debate concern on how future prospects for dance education should reconsider present academic canons.


Now is the time to convene the first scholarly symposium on MENA and Central Asian dances to gather as many scholars as possible in one scholarly environment to present their most recent research. We are planning to hold the symposium at Pomona College, Claremont, CA, hosted by the Pomona College Dance Department, April 13 – 16 2023.

We welcome you to participate in this exciting opportunity to meet dancers, choreographers, and scholars active in education, performance, and research in MENA and Central Asian dances.

 Keynote Speakers


Barbara Sellers-Young

Barbara Sellers-Young is a Professor Emerita in the Department of Dance, York University, Toronto. Prior to this she was Dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts at York University 2008-2013. From 1990 to 2008, she was a Professor at the University of California, Davis where she served as Chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance and as Executive Director of the Robert and Margit Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts. She is past president of the Congress on Research in Dance and has taught at universities in England, China and Australia and served on working groups for the arts in the United States and Canada. She is the recipient of the 2011 Dixie Durr Award for Outstanding Service to Dance Research from the Dance Studies Association and the 2008 Distinguished Alumni Award from the School
of Music and Dance at the University of Oregon.

Call for Submissions

in MENA and Central Asian Dance Studies 

Deadline for submissions:  January 29, 2023

Topics can include but are not limited to:

  1. ​Dance historiography

  2. Research methodologies

  3. Dance pedagogy and curriculum development

  4. Terminology and dance notation

  5. Connections between music and dance

  6. Dance, activism and social movements

  7. Effects of migration​ on movement practices

  8. Dance and self-determination

  9. Dance at the intersections of gender, race and sexuality

  10. Dance and politics of representation

  11. Traditional systems of knowledge and practice

  12. Dance and colonialism

  13. Strategies for decolonization and antihegemonic approaches

  14. Postcolonial and transnational feminisms

  15. Resilience and Radical Care

  16. Dance, religion and spirituality

  17. World Fairs and the colonial imagination

  18. Orientalism, neo-orientalism and auto-orientalism

  19. Cultural appropriation and misrepresentation

  20. Dance and the internet:  on-line teaching experiences and presentations


General Submission Guidelines for Paper and Presentation Proposals

(based on:

Note: this hybrid symposium has a limited number of virtual presentation slots available that will be programmed mainly for presenters with travel/ visa limitations.


Individual Papers: Paper presentations must be based on unpublished research or interpretation and must be designed for oral delivery within 20 minutes, including use of audiovisual aids. Papers running eight double-spaced pages are ideal. The programming committee will arrange individual paper submission into panels of three with a moderator. 


Panels: Panels are 90 minutes in length and should consist of three 20-minute papers or four 15-minute papers on a related topic and 30 minutes for questions/answers. We also welcome panels that take a delivery response format, in which formal respondents comment on one or two presenters' work. Panel proposals should consist of one document that contains a 150-word summary of the larger panel topic and individual paper proposals as outlined above for each presenter. The title of the proposed panel and the panelists' names should be included in the appropriate fields of the submission form only. Only one member of the panel needs to submit the panel proposal. Proposed panels will not be assigned a moderator. If panels would like a moderator, they may include their own moderator with their proposal if they wish. 


Lecture-Demonstrations: Lecture-Demonstrations may run either 45 or 90 minutes, and should be presentations where spoken and performative aspects are in dialogue (as commentary, illustration, disruption, or otherwise). Proposals should articulate: why the presentation best fits within the lec-dem format; the time requirements and studio/space requirements (specifically whether a studio space is necessary); and the names of all presenters (include performers or demonstration assistants).  If two or more applicants are involved, one person may submit the proposal.


Workshops: Movement workshops may run either 45 or 90 minutes. If two or more applicants are involved, one person may submit the proposal but the names of all presenters (including performers or demonstration assistants) must be listed on the submission form. On the submission form clearly indicate the type of space required (whether the workshop can be held within a conference room or whether a dance/studio space is required) and the recommended attire for participants.  


Dance Works and Screendances: Dance works and screendances should run no more than 12 minutes. Proposals should include a link to a trailer, full work (preferable), or excerpt of the work to be shown. The proposal abstract should articulate the work's research inquiry. Presenters will be grouped into performance panels or screendance showings, depending on the space available at the conference site, and the research inquiry being posed. There will be time for a facilitated Q&A with all of the presenters/performers at the end of the session. It should be noted that there are no submission fees, screening fees, or other fees or revenue for the presentation of dance works or screendances. There is no technical support for dance works. 


FORMAT: All Proposals must include the title of the presentation and an abstract of no more than 250 words that describes the topic, approach, sources and format of your presentation, as well as keywords. Proposals will be anonymously reviewed and therefore names and affiliations of presenters should be omitted from the proposal and indicated only on the online submission form. 


Last updated September 2, 2022

California State and Los Angeles County COVID-19 safety guidelines distinguish by vaccination status. For this reason, there are times when vaccination status will guide requirements for public events at the college.


It is highly recommended that guest speakers be up-to-date on vaccination at the time of their engagement on campus, and must submit a signed COVID-19 Waiver form prior to arriving on campus. Non-California speakers will need to provide their state vaccine certification.

It is strongly recommended that all guests be fully vaccinated or have received a negative COVID PCR or Antigen test within 48 hours before the event. Visitors will be asked to complete the college’s daily health check form per advisories at the time of the event.


Vaccinated individuals, including guest speakers, are strongly encouraged to wear a mask indoors. Unvaccinated individuals are required to wear masks indoors.

Detailed information may be found at:


There is a wide range of hotels and B&B's.  The closest is the Double Tree by Hilton Hotel.

 We recommend checking the weather here as you prepare for your travels


The college will supply a basic catering during coffee-breaks.



Anthony Shay

Anthony Shay is professor of dance and cultural studies at Pomona College. He holds a PhD in Dance History and Theory.  His most recent publication: Folk Dance and the Construction of National Identities: Staging the Folk (Palgrave Macmillan), is due in May 2023. He is editor and contributor to Dance in the Persianate World: History Aesthetics, and Performance, (Mazda Publishers) due in Spring 2023.

The symposium will be hosted by Pomona College's Dance Department at

Pendleton Dance Center, located in Claremont California USA.  

Pomona College


Day 1:  Thursday, April 13, 2023


6:00 -8:00 pm Welcoming Reception 

                     Crookshank Hall 

                     140 West 6th Street

                     Claremont, CA 91711

Sessions on Friday April 14 and Saturday April 15 will be at:

Art Studio 122

370 E 4th St. & Amherst Ave.

Claremont, CA 91711

Day 2:  Friday, April 14, 2023


8:30 – 10:00   Central Asia and Beyond

  • Lolisanam Ulugova  If Tajik Male Dance Disappears  (virtual)

  • Laurel Victoria Gray Sozanda: Women’s Professional Dance in Bukhara before the Soviets (virtual)

  • Maho Ishiguro  Acehnese Dance as Cultural Practice vs. Religious Piety:  Case studies in Banda Aceh and Yogyakarta, Indonesia


10:00 – 10:30 Break


10:30 – 12:00  Gender, Media and Postcolonial Representations

  • Tritha Abdelaziz Gender and the Politics of Identity of Arab Women Dancers in Western Theatrical Spaces During the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries (virtual)

  • Margaret Morley Beauty, Media, and Attention in the Contemporary Egyptian Dance Industry

  • Naiara Müssnich Rotta Gomes de Assunção  Representations and Paradoxes Regarding the Practice of “Belly Dance” in Egypt and Brazil (virtual)


12:00 – 1:30   Lunch Break


1:30 – 3:00      Karin van Nieuwkerk  Keynote:  Dancing Bodies, Religion, and Gender in Egypt


4:00 - 5:00  pm      Tips on Publishing:  Ahmad Jabari (Publisher), Anthony Shay (Author) and Roberta Dougherty (Librarian) 


Day 3:  Saturday, April 15, 2023


8:30 - 9:00      Turkish Dance and the Construction of Nationalism

  • Bilge Serdar Goksuluk  HALAY: From Ritualistic Circle Dance to Political Act in Turkey (individual paper - virtual)


9:00 – 10:00   The Turkish Republic and Folklore (Group panel)

  • Bengisu Bulur Costumes in Turkish Folk Dance

  • Necdet Canim  Republic of Turkey: A New Nation with a New System and Dance

  • Mayra Coruh How and Why Folk Dance was used to Create a New Turkish Identity


10:00 – 10:30 Break


10:30 – 12:00  Current Issues in Iranian Dance Studies

12:00 – 1:30   Lunch Break


1:30 – 3:00      Current Studies on Dance and Politics

  • María Faidi Bourdieu’s Thinking Tools Applied to Bellydance Research

  • Katherine Mezur Pop War? Militarized Devotion in Asia's Mediated Performances (virtual)

  • Heather D. Ward Worlds Not Colliding: Disconnected Spheres of Interest in the Study of Egyptian “Belly Dance” (virtual)


3:30 – 5pm     Barbara Sellers-Young Keynote:  Improvising Happiness


8:00 pm              Concert of the Middle Eastern Music and Dance Ensemble of UCSB

                             Thatcher Music Building, Lyman Hall

                             104 E 4th & College

Movement workshops on Sunday April 16  will be at:

The Pendleton Dance Center

E 1st St.

Claremont Ca 91711

Day 4:  Sunday, April 16, 2023

Movement Workshops

9:00 - 9:45         Maho Ishiguro  Acehnese Dance workshop

10:00 - 10:45    Durga Mani Maran Movement workshop: Personalizing the Sringara Padam (poetry on love) by adapting Michael Chekhov’s Psychophysical techniques


11 - 12:30       A Link in the Chain: Hora in the Context of the Israeli Folk Dance Movement (virtual session)

  • Dina Roginsky  The Israeli Folk Dance Movement: Past and Present

  • Judith Brin Ingber The Mother of Israeli Folk Dance, Gurit Kadman: her contribution to, and understanding of, the Hora

  • Liora Bing-Heidecker  Hora – A Romanian Folk dance, or a Hebrew Legacy?

  • Gdalit-Aviella Neuman Hora: Togetherness, Transgression, Transcendence, Transformation


Statement of Professional Ethics MENACA 2023

As the organizers of the MENACA 2023 Symposium, we are committed to anti-racism and anti-colonialism in our scholarship and in our performance and educational practices. We respect the communities with which we collaborate as researchers, educators, mentors, students, and colleagues. This work is ongoing, and we strive to deepen our understanding of how to reckon honestly with the past as well as with our own intellectual and ethical positions in the present.


We look forward to your participation! 

To present/attend sessions remotely, please register in advance for this webinar:


After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar through Zoom. 

Registration Deadline for virtual presentations:  Friday April 7, 2023

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