Statement of Diversity Contribution

Curtis Stedge MFA, MA, CMA

Growing up as a gay, white male, in a low-income family, living in the United States of America I have continuously been confronted with both my privilege, as a white male, and the exclusion that my difference as an openly gay man brings. This has provided me with a unique understanding of and interaction between both privilege and oppression. It has also made me a fierce champion for diversity, equity, and inclusion.

As an educator this has greatly influenced both my pedagogical approach and curricular development. Knowing that each student possesses their own unique origin, path, and destination I offer a flexible structure that is culturally relevant, accommodates diverse learning styles, and allows for derivation when necessary and/or worthwhile.

Within my field where there is an extreme bias towards ballet, as the basis of dance education, I seek to subvert the dominant paradigm, viewing ballet instead as one of many cultural forms, applying equal value to both western and non-western forms. In my dance appreciation and dance history courses I choose to foreground movement knowledge systems of historically marginalized communities to promote a holistic global perspective on dance as well as to empower students that may not see themselves or their cultural identity in the predominantly western forms that many institutions preference.

At KineoLab, a not-for-profit dance company of which I am the founder, we hold a deep commitment to diversity and inclusion. Our classes are highly inclusive, we offer scholarships to students from economically disadvantaged families, and we work with several students with disabilities. One of our students uses an FM system to facilitate communication. In working with her I have developed a heightened awareness of teaching students with a hearing impairment, understanding that this student needs consistent visual cues requiring me to be constantly aware of proxemics and where I place myself in the room.

In my current work as an Assistant Professor of Dance, at Bard High School Early College, in the Newark Public School District, I have developed a deeply sensitive understanding of the unique requirements of teaching in an urban setting. I approach this work and my students from a trauma-informed perspective supported by my studies in Dance/Movement Therapy.

As an arts manager with a deep commitment to diversity and inclusion, I led the founding of the committee on diversity, equity, and inclusion at the Laban/Bartenieff Institute of Movement Studies (LIMS), where I serve as executive director of the organization, and currently serve as a member of the committee. Composed of a diverse cross section of the Laban Bartenieff Movement Studies (LBMS) community, the committee is charged with organizing and leading work on addressing the cultural biases and systems of oppression within the field of LBMS, LIMS as an organization, as well as those within our curriculum and pedagogy.

I am committed to the continued pursuit of efforts to enhance diversity, equity, and inclusion at LIMS, KineoLab, Bard, and in all organizations and communities of which I am currently or may in future find myself a part of. Above all I value holism and the interconnectedness of life throughout our world. Yet, I recognize our need to see things in dualistic terms so that we may better understand the world around us. However, this subject/object duality, a mere tool, should not be what defines us. Rather, in experiencing that which we seemingly are not, we gain a better understanding of that which we are and what we share with those beyond our perceptions of self. This part/whole lemniscate from a movement perspective forms the core of my belief system as an artist, and as an educator.