Across the Threshold: Creativity, Being & Healing Conference 2013

  • Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, USA, February 28 – March 3, 2013

  • Keynote presenters: Chris Jordan, Lily Yeh, Ronald K. Brown, Dr. Baba Chuck Davis

  • Keynote presentation with Chris Jordan -Encountering Midway: the roles of grief, hope, and love in healing our world.

  • Special pre-conference workshop with Lily Yeh: Healing through Creative Action: Authenticity is the Key

  • Special Guests: Christopher Rowland, Artist and Musician, and Beverly Botsford, Percussionist.

2013 Conference Goals

  • Bring together people from different perspectives/disciplines/walks of life who are working on personal and/or social and/or environmental transformation;
  • Support each other as we honestly confront and bear witness to the global environmental destruction that we humans have helped to create through our actions;
  • Share our perspectives, knowledge, wisdom and experience of transformative paths that can help us shape a more conscious future;
  • Celebrate life and cultivate joy by moving, dancing, singing, meditating together;
  • Contribute to a creative vision for healing ourselves, our communities, and our relationship with the earth;
  • Leave with a network of community for continued inspiration and support as we work to embody and realize our vision.

2013 Conference Programming

Chris Jordan's keynote address Encountering Midway: The Roles of Grief, Hope, and Love in Healing Our World will confront and bear witness as he shares the ongoing work that he is doing on Midway Atoll in the midst of the huge plastic garbage patch in the Pacific Ocean.  He'll be sharing some footage from the documentary Midway that is currently in production.  Chris is brilliantly articulate in talking about the effects of our consumer culture on ourselves and the planet -- his artistic work brings these truths home on a very gut and heart level.  His work demands our courage and our presence, and asks us to take responsibility for the place that we occupy in the vast web of life.  It inspires us to action/activism.  Chris will host an informal session during the Conference and looks forward to spontaneous conversation in the nooks and crannies of the Conference schedule.

Lily Yeh has devoted her life to working in some of the world's most devastated communities.  Using art to awaken hope and creativity, she and community members co-create public art that begins a process of transformation.  Inner transformation as people build their self-esteem and experience personal empowerment, outer transformation as community members develop a pride of place as they beautify and heal their community landscapes.  Seeing the tangible results of collective effort, other community development projects take root.  Lily's daylong pre-conference workshop will take participants through the methodology that she has developed over the last 30 years for Community Building through Creative Envisioning and Action.  She will lead a shorter workshop during the conference as well.

Ronald K. Brown's dancing and choreography celebrates the human spirit.  His work draws from African and African-disasporic traditions -- honoring the ancestors and traditions that have recognized and cultivated our connection to Spirit in everything and everyone.  His work reminds us that where there is movement, there is possibility.  On Earth Together is one of works we will experience at the Saturday night Ronald K. Brown/Evidence Dance Companyperformance.  Ron will also lead a workshop during the conference.

On Friday afternoon, these 3 artists came together for an all-conference Arts & Activism panel/dialogue.  This discussion between the panelists and conference participants explored the role that artists and the arts do/don't/can/can't play in creating social change; how Chris, Lily and Ron have experienced this in their work; their motivations in creating work; how they see their work interfacing with/affecting community, what is meant by community? View the "non-panel" HERE.

5 Brazilian guest presenters joined us for the Conference, bringing their expertise in different embodied practices including physical theatre, performance & choreography, and Laban Movement Analysis, and social education and the liberatory educational philosophy of Paulo Freire.

The Friday evening World Dance & Music Celebration with the irrepressiblePorangui McGrew and Sunday’s closing Bantaba (celebratory gathering of community) with cultural icon Dr. Baba Chuck Davis provided opportunities to shake it, move it, and join our voices and spirits.

From Friday morning through Sunday morning, the schedule was packed with over 50 presenters offering workshops exploring a wide range of embodied transformational practices and educational practices, and papers and panels on themes of Social Transformation; Place, Memory & Healing; Art as a Means of Personal and Social Transformation; Undocumented Borderlands and Endangered Species; Mind-Body-Spirit Healing.

Thanks to the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke, all conference participants received a complimentary copy of Local Heroes Changing America.  This beautiful hardcover book was part of a national documentary project called Indivisible – an exploration of community life and action in the United States by some of the country’s most accomplished photographers, radio producers and folklorists.  As Ray Suarez says in the foreword of Local Heroes, “This book is a collection . . . of stories, gathered with the conviction that people are experts about their own lives . . . You’ll find, as I have found, listening to their stories, and watching their hard work, that people are rarely more heroic, rarely more beautiful, rarely more fully alive, than when they find fulfillment in each other and in community.”

The 2013 Conference was hosted by the Duke University Dance Program in collaboration with the following co-sponsors:

Duke University

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

  • Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Program on Integrative Medicine

The Conference is also made possible in part by a Visiting Artist Grant from the Council for the Arts, Office of the Vice Provost for the Arts, Duke University; the Office of the Dean of Humanities, Duke University; and the Mary Duke Biddle Foundation.