Davalois Fearon Dance was founded with a mission to push social and artistic boundaries and cultivate the next generation of artists. With these goals in mind, I developed the Davalois Fearon Dance Arts & Social Justice program which invites college-aged BIPOC dancers to gain mentorship and guidance in the professional concert dance field. Through this initiative, I will not only directly mentor students, but I will also provide consultation to predominantly white universities and institutions that will enhance the experience of their BIPOC students. DFD’s philosophy is based upon the ideals that sustainability and longevity are attainable through “working from the seed”, and expanding our reach by welcoming and advising individuals at a most pivotal point in their overall careers. By mentoring BIPOC students at the outset of their professional careers we are able to equip them with the resources, community, and skillset to navigate their professional careers in the art. The Davalois Fearon Dance (DFD) Arts & Social Justice program is designed for college students and recent graduates to develop the community, resources, and skills necessary to navigate and combat racial and social justice issues in the field of dance. As a part of this program, students will directly interface with DFD’s social justice initiative, Time to Talk Initiative, which in conjunction with the choreographic work, provides the community with resources and ways to take immediate and long-term action. The newest phase of the initiative, Time to Talk with Davalois Fearon, is a discursive series created by Artistic Director Davalois Fearon that highlights structural racism within dance, academia, and society at large. This multidisciplinary series utilizes both arts and informed discourse to educate audiences on the many racial disparities that take place socially, environmentally, and academically. Fearon and a guest to talk about race.
As a part of this program, participants will participate in organizing and facilitating Time to Talk performances, interviews, panel discussions, etc. As well as participate in conducting workshops, managing the Time to talk Facebook group management, and other administrative tasks. The one-year program is designed to teach participants about race as it relates to the dance world and academia, the business side of dance, and arts and social justice best practices. This will be achieved through monthly group information sessions and one on one mentorship meetings. Mentors include Artistic Director and artist-activist Davaois Fearon, DFD administrators Tess Montoya, Anya Kress, and Njeri Rutherford, artistic collaborator Mikaila Ware, Morgan Anderson and Mike McGinnis, and Time to Talk initiative team members Elissa Buxbaum, National Director, College & University Programs Anti-Defamation League, and Jennifer Jordan, former NAACP New York State Youth & College Division Advisor and former NAACP New York State Youth Work Committee Chairperson. Mentor-mentee relationships will be established through a pairing process that will match each participant with the mentor who's most aligned with their core values and best suited to help them thrive in the program and achieve their future professional goals. Through direct mentorship, consultation with dance departments at predominantly white universities, and a series of workshops and informative sessions DFD is positioned to create a new standard for BIPOC artists.
DFD will partner with white-led institutions to provide them with sound insight and understanding on the experience of BIPOC artists who often face isolation, marginalization, and lack of adequate education on non-European styles of dance. By developing mentor-mentee relationships directly with students, DFD will serve as a liaison between students and faculty to provide a more inclusive and racially comprehensive environment. By creating these relationships we are able to fulfill our mission of cultivating the next generation of dance artists and empowering them to establish racially equitable practices as they progress through their careers.
My managerial approach reflects my Jamaican-born, Bronx-raised cultural background. Through this lens I seek to dismantle white supremacists structures through direct mentorship with my students and peers and setting equitable structures within my own dance company. DFD’s team structure directly opposes the traditional concert dance hierarchical system. I firmly believe in systems of shared power administratively and artistically which is why all DFD administrators hold decision making power. This program would take place from September-May or the duration of 1 school year. The students of those universities would serve as ambassadors for the program to ensure that racially equitable systems and structures are continuously being implemented, not just at the time of DFD. Their presence and efforts will enhance the students who come after them and so on. Thus generating capacity and establishing racially equitable standards in various settings.