Seónagh Odhiambo, a dancer, choreographer and researcher, has been named the Fisher Center Pre-doctoral Fellow for 2006-07 at Hobart and William Smith Colleges.
Odhiambo is pursuing her doctorate in dance at Temple University in Philadelphia, where she is researching a trans-historical view of African women’s dance. Her choreography and research explores connections between dance as a physical/artistic expression and questions related to the study of culture. She has shown choreography and performed in dance works in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.
With a master of arts in education and a bachelor of arts in women’s studies, both from the University of British Columbia, she has taught college-level dance studies, intercultural studies and literature since 2001. Previous to this, while a performance artist in Canada, she worked for aboriginal and other women’s activist organizations.
This fall, she is teaching “Moving Cultures: Dance, Identity and Belief,” which fits with the Center’s theme for the year, “Arts, Gender and Activism.” The course focuses on dance and writing as ways of learning about personal, social and cultural identities. More than 20 students are enrolled, representing all four years.
In the spring, she will teach “Contact Zone: Dancing Pluralism, Culture and Community,” a 300-level course that culminates in a formal dance concert. The students will learn her dance technique, and through a dance performance will draw relationships between experiences of people in Africa and in the United States.
In the past 12 months, she has presented at an international conference at Roehampton University, London, England; the Congress of Research in Dance in Montreal and the World Dance Assembly in Toronto, both in Canada; and an International Conference on the Arts in Society at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland; and has additional presentations scheduled later this year at Arizona State University at Tempe and the University of Hawaii at Honolulu.
The Fisher Center brings together faculty, students, and experts in gender-related fields to explore gender and sexuality in the arts, humanities, and social and natural sciences, in an effort to foster mutual understanding and social justice in contemporary society. It was endowed with a $1 million gift from Emily and the late Richard Fisher, whose son Alexander graduated from Hobart College in 1993.