Pieter Conversation Series #3: Street Dance Activism with Shamell Bell and Deidra “Krucial” Cooper
Monday, Dec 12 2016
7:30 PM - 10:00 PM

Pieter Conversation Series Session #3:

Street Dance Activism:
Living, Performing and Remembering ‘in the break’ of Black Lives Mattering

Doors at 7:30pm
Conversation begins at 8 pm

No RSVP necessary. However, if you would like a copy of the suggested pre-reading, please email alisondamato@gmail.com

The purpose of this “Street Dance Activism” workshop, featuring Shamell Bell and Krumper and scholar activist, Deidra “Krucial” Cooper, is to provide the foundational tools for the use of street dance in demonstrations as a form of self-care, resistance, and team building. Bell, a core organizer and Arts & Culture liaison with the Black lives matter network, will conduct a brief interdisciplinary “Street Dance Activism” workshop, featuring Bell and Krumper and scholar activist Deidra “Krucial” Cooper. The workshop will demonstrate the possibility for performance to disrupt social, economic, and historical paradigms and present street dance as an alternative strategy for radical social change. We will explore the use of these dances struggles for liberation that traces them to African diasporic traditions and war dances. During the workshop, dancers will learn basic hip-hop moves, but will also engage in team-building activities as they break into dance battle/community organizing groups. Shamell’s work on what she refers to as “street dance activism” situates dance as political action from her perspectives as a dance and performance scholar, a dancer, and an active member and choreographer for the Black Lives Matter movement. Shamell’s doctoral research uses a performance studies lens and historio-geographical analysis of street dance movements in South Central Los Angeles to create a dialogue between the street dance community, activist community, and the academy that includes the street dancer’s actual presence at academic institutions in the form of dancing, speaking, teaching, and writing. 
Shamell Bell is a mother, community organizer, choreographer and PhD student in Culture and Performance at UCLA’s World Arts and Cultures/Dance. Bell received her M.A. in Ethnic Studies from UC San Diego and B.A. with Honors in American Studies and Ethnicity specializing in African American Studies at the University of Southern California. Involved in the original formations of the #blacklivesmatter movement, she is a core organizer with Black Lives Matter Los Angeles alongside prominent organizers Patrisse Cullors and Professor Melina Abdullah. Her activism focuses on using her artistic talent and knowledge of arts and culture for the movement. She is also a member of Blackout 4 Human RIghts with notable directors Ryan Coogler, Ava Duvernay, Jesse Williams, among others, serving as a community organizer liaison assisting with campaigns such as #Justice4Flint and #iKneelwithColin.

She also co-founded, the Black Infinity Complex, a liaison organization building coalitions and an united front between those fighting against Black premature death and state-sanctioned violence. The Black Infinity Complex launched a freedom school based off of Fred Moten and Stefano Harvey’s “The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning & Black Study” that received rave reviews in Robin DG Kelley’s “Black Study: Black Struggle” in the Boston Review (March 2016).

Shamell’s work on what she refers to as “street dance activism” situates dance as political action from her perspectives as a dance and performance scholar, a dancer, and an active member and choreographer for the Black Lives Matter movement. Shamell has a long history and experience with street dance movements and as a dancer in David LaChapelle’s documentary “Rize,” in addition to featured roles in various music videos, award shows, and tours. She also conducted original research with the Ranger$, a well-known dance crew in the Jerkin’ movement, for her undergraduate senior thesis. Shamell’s doctoral research currently extends this work with a performance studies lens and historio-geographical anaylsis of street dance movements in South Central Los Angeles. Her passion is to create a dialogue between the street dance community, activist community, and the academy that includes the street dancer’s actual presence at academic institutions in the form of dancing, speaking, teaching, and writing. When she is not occupying the police station or leading chants at demonstrations with BLMLA, she can be found playing with her 5 year old son, Seijani aka “Johnnie”, and even including him in peaceful demonstrations.
When she was very young, Deidra Cooper, an LA native, began dancing at Universal Dance Design with Paul and Arlene Kennedy. As a high school student, Deidra served as head choreographer for her school’s dance team. She continued pursuing her ‘dancerly’ ambitions in college at Johnson C. Smith University (in Charlotte, NC) where she was chief choreographer for Unparalleled Productions and choreographer for Eclypse Dance Troupe.

After college, Deidra returned home to LA where she’s both working on a master’s degree at USC and dancing in the area. A talented krumper, Deidra is a member of Demolition Crew. She performs at schools, women’s prisons and boot camps. Additionally, Deidra has performed in two Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre performances: Chinatown Blues and Brush Up.

As a teaching artist with Duck Truck Residency Program (DTRP), Deidra provokes imagination in her students through original movement, and inspires collaboration and team building, helping students of all ages develop their communication skills.
Admission is  your non-monetary donation to the FREE bar or the FREE boutique. Suggested items include: dancer snacks (apples, jars of sugar free nut butter, rice cakes, avocados, nuts), nice vacuum for the studio, natural dish soap and laundry detergent, Macbook pro charging cord, coffee, wine, gaff tape in any color, tea, art/dance books for our library, beers.

Please park on the street


The Pieter Conversation Series with Alison D’Amato

The Pieter Conversation series was instituted in the fall of 2016 to help bridge academic and artistic communities in Los Angeles. In light of the local landscape’s ongoing expansion with respect to both performance and scholarship, it’s an exciting time to gather, share ideas, and engage in dialogue. As Pieter’s first Scholar in Residence, Alison is committed to fostering an inclusive space for dancers, thinkers, and dancer-thinkers. She will host three meetings throughout the fall, each featuring an invited guest: Doran George (October 10), Susan Leigh Foster (November 14), and Shamell Bell (December 12). The series will include suggested readings for interested participants as well as plenty of time for conversation.

Alison D’Amato is a dance researcher, choreographer, and performer based in Los Angeles since 2010. She holds a PhD in Culture and Performance from UCLA, an MA in Dance Theater Practice from Trinity Laban (UK), and a BA in Philosophy from Haverford College. Her scholarly and choreographic work focus on choreographic scores. In particular, she investigates generative and indeterminate notation in order to investigate relationships between choreographic authority, inscription, agency and archival. Her writing on performance can be found in Choreographic Practices, itch dance journal, and Native Strategies.

Since graduating from UCLA, D’Amato has taught seminar, lecture, and technique classes at UCLA and CalArts. She’s currently teaching courses in dance theory, history, and practice at the Glorya Kaufman School of Dance at USC. Her most recent work, Requital Recital (April 2016), was developed at PAM Residencies in collaboration with John Emison. Her dances and scores have been presented in Los Angeles (Pieter, The Hammer Museum, Anatomy Riot, and HomeLA), New York (Movement Research, the Tank, AUNTS, Waxworks, Dixon Place, and BAX/Brooklyn Arts Exchange), Philadelphia, the UK, and Poland. Since moving to Los Angeles, she has performed with choreographers such as Maria Hassabi, Milka Djordjevich, Alexx Shilling, Jmy James Kidd, and Simone Forti.

Photo Credits: Shane Lopes, LA Weekly and Hannah Ye, Daily Bruin