Autobiography & Culture

Whether we look at how we were raised, or communities and practices we only briefly touch, our bodies are always situated in culture. Through investigating how culture lives in our bodies we can develop greater self awareness and increase our capacity to engage the unfamiliar. We will begin with a guided warm-up, listening to our bodies and situating ourselves in the space. From this basis of physical self-awareness, we will generate individual material recalling and cultivating experiences of cultural identity, familiarity, and difference in our lives. We will then work with partners, witness each other’s movement, and amplify any points of connection. We will use drawing, short written reflections, and verbal sharing in combination with our movement work. This workshop may be modified to explicitly address whiteness, particularly in context of “the C.I. community” and the cultural value often placed on “authenticity” and “human” connection. We can ask ourselves, how does whiteness as a mode of being, perceiving, and relating to others inhabit our bodies? How can we recognize and navigate whiteness as it manifests in our dancing? What is the impact of whiteness on our individual sense of “humanness” and our ability to connect to the experiences of others?


Safi Harriott specializes in dance education and cultural studies. She combines an awareness of her own movement through the world with an evolving understanding of systems of power and their impact on individual bodies. She has served as Visiting Lecturer in Dance at the Excelsior Community College in Kingston, Jamaica. She has also served as adjunct faculty and External Examiner (Repertory, Intermediate Modern Technique, Improvisation) for the Edna Manley College (EMCVPA) School of Dance. Harriott has facilitated workshops and presented choreography for the Kingston on the Edge Urban Arts Festival, the National Gallery of Jamaica, and the Jamaica Dance Umbrella (JDU) in addition to serving as primary coordinator and assistant to the Curator for the JDU and Junior JDU. Committed to international exchange, she has performed and co-taught in Kingston and New York with collaborators Zita Nyarady (Toronto, Canada) and Nancy Hughes (Buffalo NY, USA). More recently, she has served as Visiting Dance Faculty at the Cambridge School of Weston. In 2014 she received an MFA in Choreography and Performance from Smith College. Harriott has also studied at the Laban Bartenieff Institute of Movement Studies, and is currently an MA candidate in Sociocultural Anthropology at Columbia University.