Our 2020 conference has been cancelled in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

April 16, 2020

Due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the Dance Studies Association, in consultation with the 2020 conference Local Arrangements Chair and Program Chairs, has decided to cancel this year's in-person conference in Vancouver, which was scheduled for 15-18 October 2020. This has been an exceptionally difficult decision, but individual and communal health is our priority. An in-person conference would place undue burden on both the health and financial wellness of our attendees. We recognize this is a loss for colleagues who look to the annual conference to share their work and to enjoy the networking and community that the conference entails. We share in the sadness for this lost opportunity.

It is as complicated to take a conference apart as it is to organize one, and without the reward of seeing it come to fruition. DSA would like to acknowledge the incredible work of the Local Arrangements and Program Committees, led by chairs Peter Dickinson, Allana Lindgren, and Ahlaya Satkunaratnam.  Questions around dance and activism, the Vancouver conference theme, remain at the forefront of our minds and we plan to return to these ideas in earnest.

DSA would also like to acknowledge the investment and work of the 650+ applicants, submitting thoughtful and articulate abstracts for individual papers, panels, workshops, screendances, and beyond.  While the 2020 event is cancelled, stay tuned as DSA looks to re-engage with this work in future conferences and virtual gatherings. 

We hope to communicate further information about virtual DSA programming by late May, to be offered in the fall.  Stay informed and connected via our website, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram

Because of the conference cancellation, we will not be awarding Graduate Student Travel or Conference Fellow awards in 2020.  Additionally, the Selma Jeanne Cohen award will not include a travel subvention, but instead will be awarded without funding.  All other publication awards will move forward as regularly planned. 

We believe that the DSA community is important; thus, we move to strengthen and grow a virtual community over the coming months.  

We believe that our scholarly ideas are important; thus, we will continue to create venues to share these ideas throughout 2020, especially as they change in response to archival access, methodological challenges, job security, and more.  

We believe that dance studies is a field sharing essential methods and knowledge about how bodies relate to each other in space and time; thus we will work to support our members and the larger community by making our events, publications, and member benefits accessible and relevant.

Stay safe and see you all at Rutgers University in October 2021,

Lizzie Leopold, Executive Director
Melissa Blanco-Borelli, DSA President

DSA Board, Standing Committee on Conferences, Vancouver Conference Teams

Dance Studies Association 

October 15-18, 2020

Simon Fraser University/ Pinnacle Hotel Harbourfront

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Ahalya Satkunaratnam and Allana Lindgren (program co-chairs), Peter Dickinson (local arrangements chair)

Vancouver, located on the unceded territories of the Musqueum, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations, has long been a site of occupation, exchange, defiance and resilience. From time immemorial, it has been a location of trade and traversal across coastal Indigenous communities of the Pacific and, in more recent centuries, a place where diverse cultures from across the world have encountered each other and interacted through colonial pathways and settlement. Vancouver is a site of Indigenous and international relationships. It is a site of resistance to uneven development, neoliberal markets, colonial laws, and to exclusion. 

At this conference in Vancouver, the first DSA gathering in Canada, we invite presenters to explore dance and activism in localized and transcultural settings, and to share their strategies for productive change on the stage, street, screen and within the academy. In the same way that Vancouver serves as a powerful and complex example of both vexing histories and determined hope, we encourage participants to demonstrate how dance in other places intervenes in a range of issues, including race relations, gender-related rights, and land disputes. At the same time, the trend to commodify activism carries the potential for cultures of transformation to be appropriated into structurers of power and domination. In this gathering we wish to share the frameworks of dancing and dance scholarship that provide space for optimism, activism, and social movement.

While priority will be given to proposals that engage with the conference theme, presentations may address (but are not limited to) the following topics:

  • Transformational relationships between land, memory, and dance practice
  • Strategies of decolonization and reconciliation through movement and/or collaborative activist enactments of protocol and reciprocity through dancing and dance research
  • Dance as activist archive, and as archive of activism
  • Activist dance pedagogy and curriculum development as well as efforts to address, oppose, and redress exclusivity within academic institutions 
  • Connections between media, dance, and social movements
  • Theories of optimism as factors in activist agendas, and their relation to dance
  • Critiques of resilience within structures of ongoing domination, and their relation to dance
  • Economies of dance performance, presenting, and philanthropy, and their impacts on justice work
  • Transcultural and transnational action and exchange, models for dance activism in particular geopolitical contexts

The program committee for annual conferences welcomes proposals for presentations in several formats, outlined below. Alternative formats may also be proposed. 

This year, DSA particularly welcomes submissions in two new formats:

Gatherings: Gatherings run 90 minutes. This format takes a dialogical approach to collective thinking about tools and strategies in dance studies (for the 2020 conference, particularly those related to dance activism). We welcome proposals from teams of at least five facilitators who will lead discussions with session attendees. Topics for 2020, for example, might include "Syllabi for Dance Activism in the 21st Century," "Strategies for Decolonizing Dance Performances," or "Using Dance to Protest Climate Change." One member of the Gatherings group must submit the proposal and submission form, but the names of all members of the Gatherings group must be listed on the submission form. Note: this format replaces DSA's previous "roundtable" format.

Lightning Sessions: Lightning sessions run 60 minutes, can take a variety of formats, and should include at least three presenters and a moderator/respondent. Formats might include: 

  •  Multiple related Ignite or PechaKucha presentations, followed by discussion.

  •   Long Table conversations

  •  Discussion Groups, for which applicants propose a one-time open discussion that brings participants together to engage with materials (scholarly papers, published books, dance practices or productions) read and/or viewed prior to the conference. 

To propose a lightning session, the organizer should submit a title, an outline of the topic (250 words or less), an explanation of the structure of the session, and names of all participants. 

Other submission formats include: 

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 occasionally 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. 


  • Membership Requirement: Only DSA members in good standing are eligible to present at conferences.  Potential presenters may submit a proposal as a non- member, but must be a member of DSA in order to submit a Presenter Acceptance Form. For membership information, visit the Join Us section of our website.

  • Participation Limits: A potential delegate's name may be included on only one proposal submitted to the conference portal, whether as a presenter (including on Gatherings or Lightning sessions) or as moderator. Though some exceptions apply, these are initiated by the program committee (i.e., if invited by the program committee after a panel has been accepted, a delegate may also serve as a moderator on someone else's panel.) A delegate presenting their own work may also serve on an awards panel honoring another scholar.  A delegate presenting their own work may also serve as their Working Group's "Lightning Round" speaker. 

  • Graduate Awards: Graduate students interested in having their submissions considered for the Selma Jeanne Cohen Award, or in applying for a Graduate Student Travel Award, can submit here as a part of conference submissions.  Consult the Awards page for more information.

  • Remote Participation: If a paper is accepted for presentation at the conference, only the author of the paper may deliver the presentation. Remote requests can be considered on a case-by-case basis (generally for those from regions that prohibit travel to the conference location, or due to health or other emergencies).  See the Conferences section of our website for updated information regarding remote presentations.

Note about DSA Working Groups: At each conference, ongoing DSA Working Groups meet immediately before the conference starts to discuss a particular topic. Currently, there are working groups in: Dance and Music; Dance and Technology; Dance History Teachers; Dancing the Long Nineteenth Century; Diversity; Early Dance; Latin American, Latinx, and Caribbean Dance Studies; Popular, Social, and Vernacular; Practice as Research; and Students . Each Working Group is asked to contribute a 10-minute presentation to a "Working Group Lightning Session" at the annual conference, articulating a vibrant question or other vital issue the group is addressing.  If you wish to join an ongoing Working Group, contact its organizer HERE . If you wish to propose a new Working Group, or for additional information about WG requirements, visit our website HERE.

Abstract Submissions will be accepted until February 17, 2020 at 11:59pm midnight CST.  Decisions will be announced in mid-May (revised from April). Accepted presenters will need to confirm their attendance (and update membership status) by June30, 2020.

Questions or concerns: conference@dancestudiesassociation.org

Lizzie Leopold, Executive Director: lleopold@dancestudiesassociation.org