Photo by Daniel Beahm 2014
Donna Mejia (Associate Professor, CU Boulder Theatre and Dance and Inaugural Chancellor’s Scholar in Residence for the CU Boulder Crown Wellness Institute) is a choreographer, scholar, JEDAI and pedagogy consultant, instructor, life-long student, and performer specializing in traditions of the African and Arab Diaspora, and emerging fusion traditions in Transcultural Electronica. This genre provides a rich arena for the study of subjects such as the impact cultural imperialism, gender representation, the preservation of traditions through technology, the signature values of culture communicated through fusion, and electronic/digital globalization. She served as Director of Graduate Studies in Dance for CU Boulder’s Theatre and Dance Department for four years, and is affiliate faculty for Women and Gender Studies, Ethnic Studies, and The CU Boulder Center for Teaching and Learning. Her interdisciplinary work prioritizes one’s inner life with somatic development, excavation of under-truths for individual and communal healing, emerging global citizenship and personal identity, gender equity, fusion as a methodology, musicology, sociology, communication, digital humanities, and ALL things having to do with ART! The obsessive nerd-dom of this work cannot be underestimated.
Donna is also an authorized instructor of the Brazilian Silvestre Modern Dance Technique and is a lauded representative of this esoteric study of dance after 30 years of practice. Donna received the 2022 University of Colorado President’s Award for Justice, Equity, and Inclusion work. Donna was named a 2021 Legend of Dance by the Carson Dance Library, received the 2021 Outstanding Mentor Award from the CU Graduate School, and is honored to be a member of the 2021-2022 Excellence in Leadership cohort at CU Boulder. Her most recent writings and pedagogical tools focused on equity, communication, community building, inclusion, intersectionality, and healing will be included in the 2021 anthology Picture a Professor with West Virginia University Press.
For 10 years she was a faculty member at Colorado College and Director of the Colorado College International Summer Dance Festival. For twelve years she served as Managing Director of the award-winning Harambee African Dance Ensemble of CU-Boulder under the amazing leadership of Instructor Emerita Letitia Williams. The Harambee ensemble was awarded the prestigious El Pomar Foundation grant, was featured in the March 1996 issue of Dance Magazine, performed for President Bill Clinton and Nobel Laureate Archbiship Desmond Tutu, is part of the Denver International Airport time capsule, and was hailed as the “Best of Boulder” for 3 years.
Donna was the Guest Artist in Residence for Smith College Dance 2006 – 2009, and has been awarded residencies at Simon Fraser University in Canada, Colorado College, the Naropa Institute, University of South Florida, Mt. Holyoke College, Hofstra University, University of Wyoming, St. Olaf College, Hampshire College, Syracuse University, University of Northern Colorado, Taipei National University of the Arts, Bucknell University, Earth Dance, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival (three years), IsArt Post-Secondary School of the Arts in Mozambique, and the Bates Dance Festival (three years). She was nominated for a Pikes Peak Area Artist award in 2005.
In October of 2011 she was selected by the Fulbright Association to present the Selma Jeanne Cohen Endowed Lecture for International Dance Scholarship in Dance, notably for her paper “Digital Diasporas and Transnational Dance Communities: The Effects of the Internet on Identity Formation and Collective Cultural Memory.” Her research was also the featured keynote of Syracuse University’s 2012 Symposium on Public Diplomacy. In 2014 Donna directed the first Viral Dance Colloquium; an interdisciplinary gathering of scholars and artists to discuss the impact of Internet usage on human affairs. The digital archive for this event can be found at http://cuboulderdance.wordpress.com/. More recently she collaborated with poet Andrea Assaf in performances for the venerable La Mama Theatre in Manhattan, The Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., and with vocalist Mankwe Ndosi for the Women of the World Festival at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, NY.
Donna’s private projects include directing the philanthropic efforts of The Sovereign Collective, directing the Gather at the Delta Initiative, making music, and collaborating with artists she adores.
Donna completed her undergraduate degree in Business at CU-Boulder, and received her Master of Fine Arts degree on full fellowship from Smith College. She joined the University of Colorado at Boulder as an Assistant Professor of Dance in 2012. She is the first professor of tribal/transnational fusion globally. Donna balances her time teaching, touring, and digitally presenting throughout the U.S. and abroad, and has headlined over 50 international festivals since 2012. Also dedicated to philanthropic work, she frequently donates her services and performances to conscious organizations and social justice efforts. Donna has also added the title of “beginning composer” to her docket of skill sets, and collaborates with the brilliant Saunt EP. Her choreographic commissions and performances continue to generate outstanding critical reviews from print and digital media.
Gender, class, ethnicity, and social coding/representation in movement practices and dance traditions (both domestically and internationally)
Transnationalism, transculturalism, overlapping identities, multi-ethnicity and emerging models of global citizenship (personal focus on Creole and First Nation histories of the Americas)
Investigating how Internet usage is impacting personal identity and collective cultural memory production
Ethics/integrity/cultural appropriation issues in dance fusion and the evolving norms of cultural tolerance and representation in a remixing and “cut and paste” culture
Intersectionality, critical race theory, brave and supported conversations
Human rituals of adornment, design and textile history
Trauma-informed somatic science, embodied abolitionism and embodied racial healing
Movement training/specialization in yoga, and the dances of Brazil, Mexico, the Caribbean, West Africa (Gambia, Mali, Senegal, Guinea, Nigeria, Ghana), North Africa (Morocco, Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia and Western Sahara), Ethiopia, Northern India, American Modern Dance, Jazz, Hip Hop, Electronica and DJ Culture.
Musicology and the aural histories of all traditions, with a contemporary focus on the perspectives of hip hop and electronic music cultures
All things Sewing! Please see the “Bobbin Banga” tab for further information.