Creative Collaboration as Social Action


  • DANCE 390S/ THEATRST 290S-4/ ARTSVIS 390S/ MUSIC 390S-1/ EDUC 490S
  • SPECIAL TOPICS: Creative Collaboration as Social Action (ALP, CCI, EI)
  • TH 3:05-5:35 PM
  • INSTRUCTORS: Barbara Dickinson with guest instructors/artists Gillis, Khalsa, Kliën, Lasch, Valk, Wilbur and others.

Course Description:

The attributes of creative collaboration initiated by artists for social action, examined through theories of collaboration and of creativity; through case studies that examine the processes and best practices of such collaborative projects and interrogate the ethical issues of engagement by artists with marginalized and/or hidden populations. Contributions from faculty in diverse fields and guest artists - e.g., the creation of institutions that combine social action and the arts; the choreography of conflict resolution; the result for social action through performance or artistic product. Final student group projects will result in a plan for a project or a small-scale project realized.

Many projects with the goal of social action often delve into the personal narratives of populations that are marginalized, stigmatized, or silent. It is incumbent on project leaders to thoroughly consider how these populations are approached and how their stories are used in a way that is backed by the complete understanding of the artists and by permission of the populations involved. Issues of confidentiality and safety for all involved are paramount and will be an important part of this course.
There will be a number of guest artists and teachers in this course. One of my roles will be to help you to synthesize the connected threads of all the sessions, with a view to learning the complexities and best practices of collaboration as social action.

A number of sessions led by guests have already been established. The guests to date are Pedro Lasch, discussing his work as Director of the Social Practice Lab; Steve Valk discussing Social Choreography; Michael Kliën outlining how to create institutions that combine social action, community and the arts; Keval Kaur Khalsa discussing her Bass Connections project and course “Performing Sexual Health, Sarah Wilbur presenting some key theories such as Janet Wolff's Social Production of Art. Special guest, Margie Gillis, a Canadian choreographer, performer and teacher, will be in residence for a week. With her we will discuss the collaborative, healing nature of the connection between artist and audience, teacher and student. She has also worked closely with specialists in conflict resolution.
Among the case studies examined will be the work of Lily Yeh, the “Barefoot Artist,” who co-creates art in community spaces to begin a process of transformation; Parliament, a pioneering work of situational choreography by Michael Kliën; Walking Miracles, an evening length dance/theater production based on stories told by six survivors of child sexual abuse in a three-month psychotherapy group led by Callie Justice, a psychotherapist specializing in child sexual abuse.

For the final project, students will form in small groups and develop a collaborative project with the goal of social action. These projects will result either in a detailed strategy for such a project, or in a small-scale project realized.

Lily Yeh’s Genocide Memorial Park and  bone chamber, Rwanda
Curriculum Codes
  • ALP
  • CCI
  • EI
Crosslisting Numbers
  • MUSIC 390S-1, THEATRST 290S-4, ARTSVIS 390S, EDUC 490S