NEW YORK CITY —  Randy Gener will serve as moderator and facilitator at a two-day symposium, Dialogues Across Culture: A Model for Building Enduring Partnerships, presented by MAPP International Productions and the Africa Contemporary Arts Consortium.  The free symposium will take place Friday, October 28 (7pm-9pm) and Saturday, October 29 (11am-4pm) at Columbia University.

African dancers Faustin Linyekula and Papy Ebotani in performance
African dancers Faustin Linyekula and Papy Ebotani in performance

In the second day of the symposium, Gener will facilitate and moderated a public conversation, entitled “Advancing the Creativity of the Artist,” featuring Faustin Linyekula, artist from the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Ralph Lemon, New York City–based artist.

Organized in partnership with the Museum for African Art, The Center for African Education at Teachers College and the Institute of African Studies, Dialogues Across Culture aims to reflect on international cultural exchanges between arts groups in the United States and their counterparts in Africa.

This symposium kicks off Friday October 28 with informal performances by choreographers Faustin Linyekula from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Maria Helena Pinto from Mozambique.

The following day, Saturday, October 29, there will be presentations and discussions with members of the Africa Contemporary Arts Consortium, MAPP, the Museum of African Art and Columbia University faculty.

Dialogues Across Culture: A Model for Building Enduring Partnerships is designed to open up conversations around international cultural exchange; to share lessons learned through case studies; to introduce projects and artists with whom the Africa Contemporary Arts Consortium has partnered; and to promote and build understanding and connections between artists, organizations and public communities in the United States and on the African continent.

Faustin Linyekula, choreographer from the Congo
Faustin Linyekula, choreographer from the Congo

Faustin Linyekula is a Congolese dancer and choreographer of contemporary dance. His works are structured along the lines of the dance form Ndombolo and its associated music and address “the legacy of war, terror, fear and the collapse of the economy for himself, his family and his friends.” Linyekula has been part of a think tank with other African artists and intellectuals around the creation of an arts center near Cape Town, South Africa. The think tank resulted in the creation of the Africa Centre. Based in Kisangani, Linyekula heads the Studios Kabako whose local artistic initiatives embrace the fields of dance, theatre, music and video.

Ralph Lemon is artistic director of Cross Performance, a company dedicated to the creation of cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary performance and presentations. Lemon’s projects expand the definition of choreography by crossing and stretching the boundaries between Western, post-modern dance and other art forms and culture. In 2005, Lemon concluded The Geography Trilogy, a decade-long international research and performance project that spanned three continents as it explored race, history and memory. In 2010, Lemon curated I Get Lost, a performance and discussion series for Danspace Project, NYC.

Dialogues Across Culture has been generously supported by The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Culture.

Ralph Lemon, artistic director of Cross Performances in New York City
Ralph Lemon, artistic director of Cross Performances in New York City

 A SCHEDULE OF EVENTS:

Performance by Faustin Linyekula and Maria Helena Pinto

Friday, October 28, 2011 (7:00pm – 9:00pm)
Location: Milbank Chapel, Teachers College
Enter on 120th Street midway between Broadway and Amsterdam
Reception to follow
Free and open to the public; ID required
RSVP here: http://dialoguesacrossculture102811.eventbrite.com

Plenary session, interviews with artists, project presentations, discussions and focused conversations 

Saturday, October 29 (11am to 4pm)

Date: Saturday, October 29, 2011 Time: 11:00am – 4:00pm
Location: The Institute of African Studies, Columbia University, 606 West 122nd Street
Free and open to the public; ID required
RSVP here: http://dialoguesacrossculture102911.eventbrite.com

Investing in Curatorial Research
Dana Elmquist, Producer of Theater Programs at the Museum for African Art (NY)
Lisa Binder, Visual Art Curator, the Museum for African Art (NY)
Ken Foster, Executive Director, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (San Francisco)

Advancing the Creativity of the Artist
Faustin Linyekula, Artist (Democratic Republic of Congo)
Ralph Lemon, Artist (NY)
Randy Gener, Critical Stages (NY)

Connecting Artists and Communities
Maria Helena Pinto, Artist (Mozambique)
Laura Faure, Director, Bates Dance Festival (Lewiston, ME)

Building and Sharing Knowledge
Zoe Strother, Professor of African Art at Columbia University (NY)
Ann-Marie Bouttiaux, Royal Museum for Central Africa (Brussels)
Joan Frosch, Director, World Arts 
Culture at University of Florida (Gainesville)

Admission for both days is free. Reservations required. For more information, contact Cathy Zimmerman at MAPP International Productions, 646-602-9390 or cathy@mappinternational.org. To RSVP for the event, visit http://dialoguesacrossculture102811.eventbrite.com

*****

The Africa Contemporary Arts Consortium is a landmark program founded in 2004 to initiate, develop and sustain a dynamic exchange of arts and ideas between artists, arts organizations and public communities throughout the U.S. and the African continent.  The Consortium is dedicated to working with African artists who are interpreting contemporary life through diverse modes of performance, with programs rooted in experiential opportunities that nurture conversation and exchange and allow organic connections to evolve.  Co-founded by MAPP International Productions and nine partner organizations, the Consortium has connected thousands of U.S. citizens-in 31 cities in 21 states-to 52 African artists from 15 different countries through performances and participatory activities.

MAPP International Productions is a nonprofit producing organization dedicated to developing functional and sustainable environments for artists to create, premiere and tour ambitious and compelling performing arts projects. MAPP provides support and opportunities for challenging artistic voices to be fully heard and engaged by bringing together arts, humanities and public dialogue. Envisioning artists as agents of change, MAPP advocates for vital artistic exchange across cultures and borders through sustained and evolving partnerships between artists, arts organizers, educational institutions, cultural organizations and public communities. Since 1994, MAPP has produced 30 acclaimed multidisciplinary projects, created and performed by nearly 300 artists; produced over 60 multi-city tours of U.S. artists and artists from 22 countries in Asia, Africa, Europe and the Caribbean, taking productions and engagement activities to audiences in 42 U.S. states; and founded and led networks for international exchange with artists in Africa, the Caribbean, and Europe.

The Museum for African Art – a major center for African art and culture – has, since opening to the public in 1984, organized more than sixty exhibitions and produced engaging publications of the highest scholarly merit. Together, these and a broad range of public programs have illuminated Africa’s rich artistic traditions and cultures. Today, as it prepares to move into its new home on Fifth Avenue at 110th Street in Manhattan, the Museum is expanding its agenda of exhibitions and educational activities.

The Institute of African Studies (IAS) is Columbia University’s central forum and resource for African-centered academic research, program development, curriculum administration, student advisement, and local, national, and international dialogue and action on Africa. Founded in 1959, the IAS prepares generations of Africa practitioners for careers in development, diplomacy, business, governance, journalism, law, human rights, academic research, and teaching.

The Center for African Education promotes research and teaching about education, broadly defined, in Africa and the African Diaspora. Its central aim is to create a community of students, faculty, and staff with common interests and commitments to the fields of Education and African Studies through interdisciplinary study and discussion across Teachers College and Columbia University. The Center also promotes linkages with African universities by hosting visiting scholars, policy makers, practitioners, and activists who present different disciplinary and theoretical perspectives; and provides a forum for students to discuss their research and interests with African scholars, Africanist faculty, and colleagues at conferences, public lectures, and seminars

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