Vermont Arts Council

The People’s Choice Award: Dana Caspersen

17: Dana Caspersen

Create a set of materials that use choreographic thinking to enable learning and practice in the field of conflict engagement

Dana Caspersen is conflict engagement specialist, award-winning performing artist, and author. Her book, Changing the Conversation: The 17 Principles of Conflict Resolution (A Joost Elffers Book), has been translated into 8 languages and is widely used as a training tool by organizations, schools, and individuals worldwide. In her work integrating conflict engagement strategies with choreographic methodologies, she has designed and realized teaching and communication methods and large-scale public dialogue models bringing together thousands of people from diverse communities across the world. A leading collaborator of the internationally acclaimed choreographer William Forsythe for over 30 years, Dana has created and performed across the world as a principal artist with the Ballet Frankfurt & the Forsythe Company. She has received the Bessie Award for Outstanding Creative Achievement in the United States and was nominated for the Lawrence Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement.

Project description

I will create a set of materials that use choreographic thinking to enable learning and practice in the field of conflict engagement. I have been a professional in the fields of dance and choreography for 40 years, and a professional in the field of conflict engagement for the last 15 years. In this time, I have done extensive research and creation at the intersection of these two fields. This project is important because creating broader access to productive approaches to conflict is vital as our society struggles with division and violence. Through using choreographic thinking to shape the materials that I propose, I will create enlivening practices that will be accessible for a broad range of people who otherwise might not encounter, or be willing to work with, conflict engagement training. The planned materials include: short videos working with language and image in juxtaposition; printed objects like sets of cards with instructions for action and points of reflection; re-useable print objects that can be attached to walls with informational and inspirational language, to be used by groups in creation processes or in times of conflict; workbooks that will use choreographically-based practices to help individuals and small practice groups support themselves and each other in strengthening their conflict engagement skills. This project invites the viewer, reader, or participant to question existing communication structures and conflict patterns, to discover alternative approaches, and to explore how they can build their own capacity to access those approaches consciously and sustainably. These materials will appear online as films, in public spaces as they are put to use by individuals and groups, and will become integrated into the daily practices of groups and organizations as they consciously work to shape their environments and interactions through the decisions that they make.

Media Sample 1

Principle 2: Resist the Urge to Attack. Change the Conversation from the Inside. “Using choreographic action to illustrate ideas from my first book: Changing the Conversation– The 17 Principles of Conflict Resolution.”

Media Sample 2

Choreographic Decision-Making Cards. “Cards from a set using choreographic decision-making categories to examine and transform situations. Created with the MichaelDouglas Kollektiv.”

Media Sample 3

Trailer for THE EXCHANGE: a choreographic public dialogue on violence. “A trailer for the choreographic public dialogue on violence: The Exchange.”

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Acadia Klepeis August 4, 2023