Dawn Fraser, Jane Chu, and Jawole Willa Jo Zollar to Speak at Dance/USA Conference in Kansas City, MO

Washington, DC – April 21, 2017 – Dance/USA is pleased to announce the speakers for the 2017 Dance/USA Annual Conference Plenary Sessions:

  • Dawn J. Fraser, performer, educator and national speaker, will be the Opening Plenary speaker.
  • Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, founder and visioning partner, Urban Bush Women, will be the Closing Plenary speaker.

The Opening Plenary will take place at The Kauffman Center for Performing Arts in Kansas City, MO on Thursday, June 8, 2017 from 10:30am- 12:00pm and will include a special guest speaker: Jane Chu, chairman, National Endowment for the Arts.

The Closing Plenary will take place at the Kansas City Ballet – Todd Bolender Center for Dance and Creativity on Saturday, June 10 from 12:00pm-1:00pm. 

The 2017 Annual Conference, the nation’s broadest gathering of dance professionals, will take place in Kansas City, MO from June 7-10. Learn more about the 2017 Annual Conference schedule, breakout sessions and more here. Online registration for the Conference is available until May 5, 2017. Register for the Conference here.

Fraser is the creator and host of Barbershop Stories, which features some of New York's bravest storytellers, comedians, and memoirists, as they tell live stories... while chopping off their hair. Fraser was featured as a speaker amongst some of the nation's top innovators and change makers at TED@NYC, and currently teaches storytelling to students through The Moth’s Community Program. Fraser is a nationally acclaimed speaker, and delivers speeches and workshops to students, entrepreneurs, and business owners to develop stories that engage and inspire. Her own stories about growing up as a twin and a first generation Trinidadian have been featured on storytelling shows including The Moth, Story Collider, The Soundtrack Series and RISK! She also works with as a speech coach, training individuals to be their most impactful selves. Read more here.

Chairman Chu is the eleventh chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. With a background in arts administration and philanthropy, Chu is also an accomplished artist and musician. She leads a dedicated and passionate group of people to support and fund the arts and creative activities in communities across the nation. Chu was born in Shawnee, Oklahoma, and raised in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, the daughter of Chinese immigrants. She studied music growing up, eventually receiving bachelor's degrees in piano performance and music education from Ouachita Baptist University, and master's degrees in music and piano pedagogy from Southern Methodist University. Additionally, Chu holds a master's degree in business administration from Rockhurst University and a PhD in philanthropic studies from Indiana University. Read more here.

From Kansas City, MO, Zollar trained with Joseph Stevenson, a student of the legendary Katherine Dunham. After earning her B.A. in dance from the University of Missouri at Kansas City, she received her M.F.A. in dance from Florida State University. In 1980, Zollar moved to New York City to study with Dianne McIntyre at Sounds in Motion. In 1984, Zollar founded Urban Bush Women (UBW) as a performance ensemble dedicated to exploring the use of cultural expression as a catalyst for social change. In addition to 34 works for UBW, she has created works for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Philadanco, University of Maryland, Virginia Commonwealth University and others; and with collaborators including Compagnie JantBi from Senegal and Nora Chipaumire. In 2006, Zollar received a New York Dance and Performance Award (Bessie) for her work as choreographer/creator of Walking With Pearl…Southern Diaries. Read more here.

About the 2017 Dance/USA Annual Conference
Dance/USA will host its 9th Annual Conference in Kansas City, MO from June 7-10, 2017. Dance/USA will also be celebrating its 35th Anniversary in 2017! From executive directors and emerging arts leaders to managers and presenters, agents and artists, hundreds of individuals associated with the professional dance field will convene in Kansas City for networking, creative conversation, enriching training sessions, discussion on important issues facing the field. 

Programming at the Conference will be a mix of discussion-based sessions and practical breakout sessions. Broad questions that will drive programmatic content and conversations will be: How will we continue to finance dance, How will dance deal with constant technological change, and What is the social responsibility of dance?  Dance/USA’s core values of equity, inclusion, and diversity will serve as a lens by which the design of all topics and sessions will pass through including but not limited to the diversity of voices being presented, addressing the needs of the diverse group of Conference attendees, and program designs that allow for active discussion

The 2017 Annual Conference will be campus style to showcase the beauty of Kansas City's local venues including Union Station, Kansas City Ballet, National World War I Museum and Memorial, and the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. For more information about the 2017 Dance/USA Annual Conference, please visit our website here.

About Dance/USA
We believe that dance is essential to a healthy society, demonstrating the infinite possibilities for human expression and potential, and facilitating communication within and across cultures. We are committed to honoring, nurturing and advancing dance through the lens of diversity, inclusion and equal opportunity in all aspects of our programming, services and organization.

Dance/USA is the national service organization for the professional dance field. Established in 1982, Dance/USA sustains and advances professional dance by addressing the needs, concerns, and interests of artists, administrators, and organizations. By providing national leadership and services, Dance/USA enhances the infrastructure for dance creation and distribution, education, and dissemination of information. Learn more about Dance/USA by visiting our website, www.danceusa.org

Dance/USA is grateful to the following: The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, The Harkness Foundation for Dance, National Endowment for the Arts, and The Shubert Foundation.  Additional thanks to 2017 Annual Conference sponsors: Arts Insurance Program; ArtsKC; Black Archives of Mid-America; Belger Arts Center; Bloch; Boulevard Brewing Company; Brancato’s Catering; Capacity Interactive; Ally, Dr. Jessie Ng, and Dr. Tom Curran; DeWitt Stern Group; Francis Family Foundation; Freed of London; G. Schirmer, Inc.; Gaynor Minden; Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce; Harkness Center for Dance Injuries; Harlequin Floors; Harvest Productions; Jacob Rieger & Company; JCCC, The Performing Arts Series; Kansas City Ballet; Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts; LEAGUE at AT&T; Mid-America Arts Alliance; Missouri Arts Council; MTH Theater; Muriel McBrien Kauffman Foundation; National World War I Museum and Memorial; Onelife Fitness; Overland Chauffeured Services; Parisi Artisan Coffee; PB&J Restaurants; The Richard J. Stern Foundation for the Arts/Commerce Bank, Trustee; Runaway Productions; The Scout Guide Kansas City; Select Physical Therapy; Tico Productions; Super Shuttle; and Union Station Kansas City.