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Antiracism in the Arts - Meet the Speakers

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ODU Fall Dance Concert


Antiracism in the Arts Symposium

Tuesday, October 18

A day-long, four-session symposium on teaching and professional practices. Topics include:

  • Antiracist pedagogies
  • Color conscious casting for film, theatre, and dance
  • Leadership strategies that honor diversity and equity.

Register for symposium sessions
Antiracism in the Arts

Dancer Iyun Ashani Harrison, by Khalil Goodman



Meet the Speakers

We are pleased to introduce our speakers for the upcoming Antiracism in the Arts Symposium.


Keesha Beckford

Session Two Speaker

11 a.m. - 12:15 p.m. | Panel on Ballet Pedagogy


Keesha Beckford teaches courses in ballet, jazz, and modern. She is currently a faculty member at Columbia College Chicago and part of the leadership team of the Joffrey Academy of Dance. She began her dance studies in Queens, New York, before graduating cum laude from Princeton University with an A.B. in American history and a minor in dance. She has performed the choreography of Milton Myers, Teri Lee and Oliver Steele, Danny Herman, Paige Cunningham-Caldarella, Amy Marshall, Michael Foley, and Lorn MacDougal, among others in the U.S. and abroad.

Photo credit: Cheryl Mann

Learn More About Keesha Beckford
Keesha Beckford

Brittney Harris

Session Three Speaker

1:30 p.m. - 2:45 p.m. | Color Conscious Casting in Dance, Theatre & Film


Brittney Harris is an Assistant Professor of Theatre in the Department of Communication and Theatre Arts at Old Dominion University. Her areas of expertise are in Race and Performance, Performance as Activism, and Community-Engaged Theatre. As an artist and educator, her approach to creativity centers on providing a sacred space for discovery, exploration, and individuality.

Throughout the Southeast regions of VA, NC, DC, and GA, Harris has created several community engagement-based projects and conducted workshops on solo performance development and devised theatre over the past decade. Her work explores the adverse effects of violence in social media on the personal psyche and how narrative-based storytelling is used as a vessel for social resilience and redemption. Harris' research has been featured at several national interdisciplinary conferences and fringe festivals, including the Association for Theatre in Higher Education Conference (ATHE), BorderLight Festival International Theatre Fringe, Asheville Fringe Festival, National Women's Theatre Festival, and Black Theatre Network.

Learn More About Brittney Harris
Brittney Harris

Iyun Ashani Harrison

Session One, Three & Four Speaker

  • Session One: 9 a.m. - 10:40 a.m. | Ballet Class
  • Session Three: 1:30 p.m. - 2:45 p.m. | Color Conscious Casting in Dance, Theatre, & Film
  • Session Four: 3 p.m. - 4:15 p.m. | Antiracism in Leadership & Media Studies

Iyun Ashani Harrison is the is the director of undergraduate studies, head of ballet, and an associate professor of the practice of dance at Duke University. He graduated from The Juilliard School, performed with Dance Theatre of Harlem (DTH), Ballet Hispanico of New York, Ailey II, and established the project-based company Ballet Ashani. Currently a doctoral candidate in educational leadership and organizational innovation at Marymount University, Harrison connects studies of leadership and organizational philosophies to ballet's structures and pedagogical practices. As a former professional ballet dancer, Harrison understands the complexities of ballet organizations' diversity and inclusion restructuring processes. He notes that historically vertical organizational structures, trait-based leadership standards, and insular hiring practices make it difficult to diversify, democratize, and update ballet leadership and organizational practices.

Learn More About Iyun Ashani Harrison
Iyun Ashani Harrison

Theresa Ruth Howard

Session Four Speaker

3 p.m. - 4:15 p.m. | Antiracism in Leadership & Media Studies


Theresa Ruth Howard, a former ballet dancer and current journalist, is the founder and curator of MoBBallet.org (Memoirs of Blacks in Ballet), a digital platform that preserves, presents, and promotes the contributions and stories of Black artists in the field of ballet. She is a leader in the area of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in ballet and the arts. Ms. Howard works as a diversity strategist and consultant with organizations and educational institutions, nationally and internationally. In January of 2022 she launched the Cultural Competence and Equity Coalition (C²EC) a membership-based organization that supports the embodiment of Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Anti-Racism and Cultural Competence (I.D.E.A. & CC) and works to transform the cultural norms within the classical arts.

Learn More About Theresa Ruth Howard
Theresa Ruth Howard

Maurya Kerr

Session Two Speaker

11 a.m. - 12:15 p.m. | Panel on Ballet Pedagogy


Maurya Kerr is a Bay-Area-based choreographer, poet, performer, educator, and the artistic director of tinypistol. Much of her work—across the disciplines of movement, language, and film—is focused on black and brown people reclaiming their birthright to both wonderment and the quotidian. Maurya was a member of Alonzo King LINES Ballet for 12 years, an ODC artist-in-residence from 2015 to 2018, and holds an MFA in dance from Hollins University. Currently Maurya is core faculty with the LINES Ballet Education Programs; a co-curator, with artist Leyya Mona Tawil, of ODC Theater's 2023 season; and the curator/coordinator of 2022 Hollins MFA Dance study in San Francisco. Maurya's poetry has been nominated for a Pushcart prize, appears in multiple journals, is anthologized in "The Future of Black: Afrofuturism, Black Comics, and Superhero Poetry," and was recently chosen by Jericho Brown as a runner-up in Southern Humanities Review's 2021 Auburn Witness Poetry Prize. She was a 2021/22 UC Berkeley ARC (Arts Research Center) Poetry & the Senses Fellow, and her first chapbook, MUTTOLOGY, is forthcoming with Harbor Editions in 2023.

Photo credit: Alan Kimara Dixon

Learn More About Maurya Kerr
Maurya Kerr

Allison Page

Session Four Speaker

3 p.m. - 4:15 p.m. | Antiracism in Leadership & Media Studies


Allison Page is an Assistant Professor of Media Studies with a joint appointment in the Institute for the Humanities and Department of Communication and Theatre Arts at Old Dominion University. Prior to joining the faculty at ODU, she was Visiting Assistant Professor of New Media Studies at Hampshire College, and also taught at Smith College and Mount Holyoke College. Her first monograph, Media and the Affective Life of Slavery, was published by the University of Minnesota Press in March 2022.

Learn More About Allison Page
allison-page-2021

Priya Vashist

Session Three Speaker

1:30 p.m. - 2:45 p.m. | Color Conscious Casting in Dance, Theatre & Film


Priya Vashist is an Assistant Professor in the Film Program at the Department of Communication and Theatre Arts at Old Dominion University. Priya works as a director, screenwriter and editor in various genres and styles of filmmaking including narrative, documentary, and experimental. Her work focuses on social justice and representation of ethnic minorities, especially queer South Asians on screen. Priya's films and screenplays have been screened and featured at various national and international film conferences and film festivals.

Learn More About Priya Vashist
Priya Vashist


Moderator & Symposium Contact


Kate Mattingly

Kate Mattingly, an assistant professor at Old Dominion University, teaches ballet, dance history, teaching principles, and research methods. Her forthcoming book, Shaping Dance Canons, interrogates how dance critics have foreclosed opportunities for certain artists and dance forms while generating validity for others, thereby contributing to a racialized dance canon. Her writing has been published in the New York Times, Village Voice, Dance and Pointe magazines, Journal of University Teaching and Learning Practice, Performance Research, Mapping Meaning, Dance Chronicle, Convergence, International Journal of Screendance, and Dance Research Journal. Her undergraduate degree in Architecture is from Princeton University, her MFA degree in Dance is from NYU, and her doctoral degree in Performance Studies is from the University of California, Berkeley. In 2019 she organized Dancing Around Race: Whiteness in Higher Education, with colleagues Gerald Casel, Rebecca Chaleff, Kimani Fowlin, and Tria Blu Wakpa.

Contact Mattingly for Symposium Questions
Kate Mattingly