Catching up with Gillian Jakab, Fall 2017 Microgrant Recipient

We caught up with our Fall 2017 Microgrant Recipient, Gillian Jakab.Gillian Jakab Resized

Funding from the ARAD Microgrant supported Gillian’s participation in “Transmissions and Traces: Rendering Dance”, a joint conference held by the Congress on Research in Dance and Society of Dance History Scholars at The Ohio State University.


Describe the opportunity you participated in and how it aligns with your career aspirations.

I presented a paper at the Society of Dance History Scholars (SDHS) and Congress in Research on Dance (CORD) joint conference “Transmissions and Traces: Rendering Dance,” marking the merger of the two renowned academic organizations into the Dance Studies Association (DSA). The conference was held at The Ohio State University and brought together hundreds of dance scholars from dozens of nations for a three-day event representing the largest gathering of its kind in the field.  The conference was an extraordinary opportunity to share my research on cultural diplomacy during the Cold War.  My research sprung from work I had begun last year as Professor Victoria Phillips’ student in the course “Cold War Public Diplomacy” within Columbia University’s History Department.  I examined the U.S. State Department’s repeated decisions declining the applications of avant-garde choreographer Merce Cunningham to become part of its overseas Cultural Presentations program in the 1950s and ’60s.  I analyzed the source materials, including the minutes of the State Department Dance Panel, as well as contemporaneous media accounts, and historical treatments to conclude that just as the State Department used the Dance Panel to further its hegemony in the world, so the Dance Panel members used the State Department to maintain their hegemony in the dance world.

More valuable than my own experience presenting as part of a panel, however, was the access to the three days of panels, talks, and workshops with leading scholars and professionals discussing critical issues and new pathways in the field.  The chance to spend quality time with those I know well—Professor Clare Croft of the University of Michigan as well as my colleagues from dance historian Lynn Garafola’s Columbia Dance Studies seminar—was surpassed only by the chance to meet and learn from so many new thinkers and doers.  Scholars and arts organizations have much to learn from one another and I hope to help facilitate that dialogue during my career .


GJakab- conf2What were the most important takeaways from your experience?

One panel I attended titled “Developing American Audiences” extended the concepts of the institutionalization of high culture that ARAD’s Dr. Gemma Mangione introduced in the course “Arts in Context.”  On this panel, Caroline Clark presented her paper “Highbrow Versus Lowbrow: Dance Transmission through Social Agendas in the United States.” Clark drew on the literature we had read of Paul DiMaggio and Lawrence Levine, framing the formation of aesthetic hierarchies within the specific context of dance, as did Judith Hamera in her keynote address “Rehearsal Problems: Gus Giordano’s The Rehearsal, Canonicity, and the Place of the Local in Dance Studies.” I was left with a more nuanced understanding of the ways in which classifications of taste have shaped the dance cannon we generally accept, study, and present.

Another presentation that resonated with my thesis research and topics I’ve encountered through my work at the Cultural Services of the French Embassy was Karima Borni’s paper “From Street to Studio: Muslimness and Masculinity in Moroccan Contemporary Dance Workshops.” In this presentation, Borni sifted through the layers of identity formation in contemporary Moroccan dance and illuminated the power dynamics between local dancers and the predominantly European choreographers who circulate through official performance channels.

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How has the microgrant helped to enrich you professionally? 

The ARAD microgrant helped me participate in an invaluable weekend of conversations surrounding the theme of “transmitting dance”—a topic that spawned a wealth of presentations and workshops connected to my academic and professional interests.  As an aspiring arts professional, I valued the opportunity to meet and hear from others in the field and discuss the challenges of presenting and documenting dance and its history. The conference panels and workshops explored wide-ranging topics in relation to dance such as intellectual property and copyright, authorship/spectatorship, archival projects, education and audience engagement, as well as topics of identity and social justice in dance history and theory.

Holiday Service Project 2017 : Thank You!


The Arts Administration Program (ARAD) recently organized a Holiday Service Project. It was a warm time for faculty, students, staff, and alumni to join together and help to those in need during the winter holidays. We want to share the results of our fundraiser, and express our gratitude to everyone who contributed their time, resources, and talent to making this event a success, especially to our colleagues in Alumni Relations.


With generous donatio2017-HSP-Bagsns from Blick’s Harlem store, Da Vinci Art Supply, Artist and Craftsman, Jerry’s Palette Shop, and private contributors, ARAD created 40 gift bags for children and an additional 20 more for mothers served by Art Start, a non-profit organization that brings arts programming to at-risk youth who live in city shelters, on the streets, are involved in court cases, or surviving with parents in crisis. In addition to the gift bags, we are also able to provide several large boxes of art materials to Art Start.


Our annual fundraiser also helped to raise enough funds, with a contribution from the ARAD program, for Groove with Me to purchase a new water fountain for their studio. Groove with Me is a dance studio that offers free classes to girls in Harlem and a safe and stable environment in which express themselves and discover their capacit2017_HSP-GroovewithMeies.

We are also excited to share that a group of our first-year students – Jordan Carter, Peter Huang, Allason Leitz, and Angelica Tran – led an interactive session about the field of arts administration at the Groove with Me studio.

Thank you again to our sponsors for making such generous contributions and to the ARAD Community for helping make this holiday season shine brighter for so many children and their families!

Follow up with Lauren Williams, Fall 2017 Microgrant Recipient

Lauren Williams_Headshot

We followed up with our Fall 2017 Microgrant Recipient, Lauren Williams.

Funding from the ARAD Microgrant supported Lauren’s participation in the American Institute of Graphic Art’s AIGA Design Conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota.


Describe the opportunity you participated in and how it aligns with your career aspirations.

On October 13-14, 2017 I had the opportunity to attend the American Institute of Graphic Art’s AIGA Design Conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota. During the conference I attended general sessions along with 2,000 fellow designers and symposia with enlightening guest speakers. This year’s theme was Connect and according to Tina Essmake, 2017 Conference Chair, this theme was chosen because “we’re all in search of meaningful connections to the work we do—and ultimately, to each other.”

The conference allowed me to create new connections and expand my professional network, which provides access to future opportunities within the design industry. The speakers also helped me to create meaningful connections between ideas and projects they were presenting to ideas that I plan on pursuing in the realm of social design and the arts in the future.

I attended symposia including Type in the City and Design for Business Impact. In addition to symposia I also gained inspiration from speakers including:

Rhea Combs, Museum curator, photography and film, Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture

Joe Gebbia, Chief product officer and cofounder, Airbnb

Ian Spalter, Head of design, Instagram

Elise Roy, Inclusive design strategist, Elise Roy & Associates

Annie Atkins, Graphic designer for film


What were the most important takeaways from your experience?

Each year the conference touches upon inclusive design. I found the talk given by Elise Roy, Inclusive Design Strategist at Elise Roy & Associates, most intriguing. Roy discussed how designing for extreme users, like people with disabilities, benefits us all. A major takeaway from her talk is that we can’t continue to make design for people with disabilities an afterthought or an element that is incorporated in phase 2.0 or 3.0. It has to influence the original design. As arts administrators and designers we must commit to universal design strategies.


How has the microgrant helped to enrich you professionally? 

The connections made via the microgrant such as networking opportunities, increased awareness of resources, and links to new ideas from speakers have enriched me professionally. I believe that in order to effectively grow it is important to remain involved in the communities in which I am interested in operating in. The micogrant supported me by providing access to a space of like-minded individuals who are tackling innovative projects and concepts that have an impact on society. It also allowed me to enter into a space that emphasized the importance of responsible design, not only supporting my professional development, but also those within communities that interact with my work.