Creating and Showing Counterstories in Elgin, Illinois

Going Dutch Festival, Elgin, Illinois, 2022

Art about dance at a festival of dance and art!

I will be showing my triptych, “Jam Series,” and leading a workshop at the 12th annual Going Dutch Festival in Elgin Illinois, June 3-25, 2022. Produced by Side Street Studio Arts, the festival is a celebration of the female voice in dance, music, theater, and the visual arts.

I am especially excited to share my oil pastel drawings about creating safer brave space in contact improvisation dance jams in a festival originally developed to address the underrepresentation of female choreographers in the dance world.

Join me for the visual art opening reception Friday, June 3, 6-8 pm or come to my workshop, Creating Going Dutch Counterstories, Saturday, 1-3 pm, June 4 or let me know if you’d like to come another time. The visual art exhibition is open Fridays 3-7 pm, Saturdays, 12-6 pm, and Sundays 11 am-3 pm through June 25th, 2022.

Workshop: Creating “Going Dutch” Counterstories

In the workshop, we will imagine a world in which women are well represented in the arts. We’ll take inspiration from Hilde Lindemann Nelson’s concept of the “counterstory” and Augusto Boal’s “forum theatre” of Theatre of the Oppressed. A counterstory is a story with an alternative outcome that represents a moral shift from the dominant story. Counterstories allow us to move beyond being reactive to being proactive. They help us envision the world in which we want to live. Participants will have the opportunity to create counterstories in the artistic medium of their choice: drawing, writing, movement or acting, individually or in small groups. At the end, we’ll have the choice to share our creations.

Triptych: “Jam Series” 

“Jam Series” illustrates my article, Starting By Believing Maria: Responding to Sexual Violence in Safer Brave Contact Improvisation Spaces,” published in Contact Quarterly. In it, I share a counterstory written in response to a dance community’s poor handling of a serial predator. I first recount how a jam group gave a man dubbed “Roland” chance after chance to reform even as women continued to leave the group. The first oil pastel in the triptych, “Jam with Roland: Just say ‘No,’” depicts a space that puts the onus on potential victims to object and say “no.” Then, in the article, I imagine a scenario in which the group believes and supports the first woman to complain. I call her “Maria,” and the second drawing in the triptych is titled “Believing Maria.” The final drawing, “Jam with Maria: Listening for ‘Yes,’” depicts a culture of consent in “safer brave space.” I describe space in which in which people listen for “yes” in the article, “Can’t We Just Dance? Not if We Want to Create Safer Brave Contact Improvisation Spaces.” I coined the term, safer brave space, when exploring how to create a culture of consent in contact improvisation dance jams, but the concept is relevant for many types of gatherings in which people participate voluntarily and risk vulnerability. 

The drawings have been published online on the Contact Quarterly website (as well as this blog). First in the triptych, “Jam with Roland: Just say ‘No’”, was published as an illustration of my article, “Just Say ‘No’ to Teachers Who Troll: Counterstories,” in the Contact Improvisation Newsletter, Contact Quarterly. The second, “Believing Maria” was published as an illustration of “Can’t We Just Dance? Not if We Want to Create Safer Brave Contact Improvisation Spaces” in the Contact Improvisation Newsletter, Contact Quarterly, and the final oil pastel, “Jam with Maria: Listening for ‘Yes’” illustrated “Starting By Believing Maria: Responding to Sexual Violence in Safer Brave Contact Improvisation Spaces” in the Contact Improvisation Newsletter, Contact Quarterly.


© 2022 Michele Beaulieux … Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. That means you are free to share and adapt as long as you attribute to Michele Beaulieux, don’t use for commercial purposes, and use this same license. And if you do share, I’d love to know! I continue to revise, so to avoid sharing an outdated version, I recommend linking to this page, where I provide the date of the current iteration: 6.5.22

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