NACOGDOCHES, Texas — Heather Samuelson and Haley Jameson, co-coordinators of Stephen F. Austin State University’s dance program, presented research at the Twelfth International Conference on the Arts in Society in Paris, France.
Samuelson’s poster presentation, “Expression of the Forbidden: Creating dance that explores eating disorders and self-mutilation,” is based on a dance she choreographed titled “M.E.,” which depicts eating disorders and self-mutilation.
The poster touched on various conference themes, including social, political and community agendas in the arts, gestures that matter, arts as activism, arts and disabilities, and arts, well-being and healing.
“The poster presentation brought to light several societal issues such as eating disorders, cutting and mental instability that affect many people,” Samuelson said. “By incorporating shared gestures with the issues presented, ‘M.E.’ promotes healing and awareness and opens the lines of expression and communication.”
Jameson’s poster, “Teaching Social Responsibility Through Dance Appreciation," focused on her teaching practice in dance appreciation classes at SFA. Jameson uses social responsibility as the framework to look at dance through the lens of a non-discrimination statement in her dance appreciation courses.
“We look at dance and religion, politics, gender, race, nationality, ethnicity and ability,” Jameson said. “Through these lenses, we study how dance is used as an expression of these areas and how dance can be used to influence or effect social change.”
This conference was Samuelson’s first international presentation, which she describes as humbling and a great opportunity to connect with artists from around the world.
“We had the support of the university, as well as friends and family,” Samuelson said. “Having them back us, encourage our research, and know that we would well-represent SFA and the dance program made us feel proud to be Lumberjacks.”
Jameson agreed the conference was a tremendous opportunity.
“We were honored to represent SFA and the U.S. at this diverse conference for all the arts,” Jameson said. “I enjoyed participating in workshops and listening to presentations that enriched me as a professional in my field and also as a professor.”
During the conference, Samuelson and Jameson toured the Palace of Versailles and Palais Garnier, which is regarded as the birthplace of ballet.
“I can’t explain the feeling I experienced standing in the most historic building directly related to my profession,” Samuelson said. “Even now when I think about it, that feeling comes back. I can officially say, ‘I was there, and I danced … down a corridor!’”