Who We Are:
BodyStories: Teresa Fellion Dance is a contemporary dance company of women that capture and communicate universal human encounters through dynamic, purposeful movement. We bring a wealth of cultural arts activism experience into each work we create with community partners. We focused on family heritage and personal obstacles in Agawam and Home, traveled abroad with our piece The Border Project about human migration and displacement, and collaborated with Trey Anastasio of Phish on a piece focused on addiction issues. Valuing international exchange, we collectively speak nine languages and research, perform, and collaborate with artists from five continents. We are a multifaceted, highly physical company laced with provocative, emotional, political, humorous edges.
BodyStories’ mission is to examine depths of society in their darkest and brightest moments, inspiring audiences to physically sense emotional and psychological aspects of the human condition through dance. We use immersive techniques to integrate and empower audiences by navigating them through public and theater spaces in innovative ways of engaging with performance. For Anita’s Way with chashama, Fellion developed the site-specific piece Control Dominion exploring power through physical relationality, where audience navigators instructed audience members to move into specific formations in relation to the dancers’ shifting positions in the outdoor space.
In addition to creating and performing original works, the company is committed to reaching diverse populations through community engagement and education, and maintaining a stable business model to sustain our work. BodyStories has put on free and ticketed public concerts throughout the United States and abroad, and held several workshops with integrated participant performances, such as the Patrick Dempsey Cancer Center, where participants contributed text/movement created in collaboration with BodyStories.
List of Actions for Accountability and Transparency in Anti-Racist Work
As a dance company that holds social justice as one of our core tenets, we stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and the ongoing protests. However, standing in solidarity, in this current moment and moving forward, is not enough. We must take a look at ourselves and what we are doing as a dance company to actively fight racism, and what we can do better. We have worked to promote social justice and anti-racism since 2004 but realize that we must do more. The following is a list of actions of accountability and transparency BodyStories implements and will implement to actively fight racism internally and externally. Some of these items we are able to do immediately and some will be ongoing as we rebuild. We hope this list will inspire anyone reading it to think critically about what actions they need to take to be actively anti-racist.
The racial and ethnic makeup of our artistic and administrative staff, and Board of Directors
- We commit to representing Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) members of our society in all areas of our company. BodyStories is a small company, but we have a loud and mighty voice. We believe anyone can make change no matter what size they are, and change starts from within.
- For accountability and transparency on that commitment, we are publicly releasing a report on the racial and ethnic makeup of our artistic and administrative staff, as well as our Board of Directors and Advisory Council, for 2019 and 2020. We hope other companies will follow our example and release similar reports for their own accountability and transparency in anti-racist work.
- We commit to releasing this report annually every June 30th for continued accountability and transparency.
Our educational offerings
- We commit to reviewing the styles of dance we teach in our workshops that belong to different ethnic and racial cultures, and what the implications are when we teach them. There is a history of erasing the important role different ethnic and racial cultures have in the foundation of dance, as well as a stigmatization attached to people of those cultures who teach them versus when white dancers teach them, and this must be addressed.
- Whenever possible, we commit to having our workshops taught by the dancers of the racial and ethnic groups that the dances belong to. We promise that all our workshops will provide historical and cultural knowledge about the dances and movement styles included in our curriculum, and to convey honor and respect for movement traditions and the cultures that developed them.
Compensating our collaborators
- In addition to committing to working with more diverse collaborators, we commit to adequately compensating the BIPOC artists we partner with for both our performances and educational offerings to the best of our ability.
- We commit to continue to push for changes in both the dance world and world at large.
- We commit to holding other organizations accountable for change, representation, and equity. We will be intentional in choosing which organizations we collaborate with to make sure they uphold the same values we do.
- We commit to hosting panels with BIPOC performers in the dance world to talk about their experiences, and compensate them.
- We commit to continually understanding that the actions we need to take to be actively anti-racist do not end here, and will never end. We are committing to staying engaged, always learning what we can do better, and eagerly embracing the lifetime of work ahead for all of us.