Gather at the Delta

Participation Agreements

Participation Agreements
Document Authors:
Donna Mejia –, Joanna Ashleigh-, Liz Azi –, Brittney Laleh Banaei –

Vulnerability and confidentiality are an important part of all safe and brave learning environments. We invite you to
review our requests for best practices that minimize harm and maximize mutuality and diplomacy. In alignment with
the Arab American National Museum’s (U.S.A.) commitment to creating an arts sector rooted in justice, we are
committed to ensuring a space that is free of racism, transphobia, homophobia, Islamophobia, ableism, misogyny,
classism or other biases. Our expectation is that all visitors will honor these ethics.
Several of the events in our schedule intentionally will not use a chat window. For this part of the event we
encourage you to relish in deep listening and reflection time while encountering the curated information in
this program. You will have the opportunity to complete a feedback survey at the end of the day, and this is
an excellent opportunity to register your questions and reflections for the next installation of this event,
which will occur October 4 – 10, 2021, Sponsored by the University of Colorado Boulder.
The goal of this conference is to have an open discussion about Transcultural Fusion dance in all of its forms
and complexities. We agree to work together to keep the conversation on this topic.
We treat others with dignity and kindness at all times, whether we agree or disagree with their perspectives.
In consideration of this event being a multilingual space, please do your best to avoid slang vernacular terms
that will be difficult for interpretation, and we invite you to speak slowly and clearly for the benefit of our
We value different styles of participation and create structures that support multiple forms of creative voice
and worldviews.
We agree to take responsibility for the impact of words or actions, and apologize with generosity when
We encourage you to “Fumble Forward” (originated by Donna Mejia), which promotes taking an inquiry
stance when you don’t understand or agree. Be curious and embrace research versus react mode. The idea of
Fumble Forwardseeks to promote exchange, and most importantly, hit the pause button on conventional
responses such as anger. To keep a space of inquiry open in a charged subject matter, participants will
 preface their public commentary by saying “I’m about to fumble with my words.” The community responds 
as a chorus with “Fumble Forward!” Confusion and questions are essential to learning and refining our collective
 understanding. For example perhaps a student
 is unsure of the terminologies needed to join a conversation.
Perhaps they are unsure if their questions
will be offensive. Perhaps they don’t have fully formulated ideas
and opinions yet. For this colloquium,
we will all agree to suspend judgement, lean in and help each other clarify
through a process of corrective,
delicate or clumsy verbal surgery. Fumble Forward allows us to stay open and
speak from the heart with
diplomacy, even if our voices are trembling and we can’t find confident, stable ground.
The concept of
Fumble Forward encourages diplomacy and fosters a learning environment where questions are
welcome and
we can diplomatically move towards true listening and communication.

We acknowledge, remember, and explicitly state the emotional labor involved in educating about issues of
race, racism and White supremacy and ensure that the responsibility does not solely fall on underserved,
undersourced, marginalized identities, MENAHT, and BIPOC citizens to educate others about these issues.
We encourage all to consider your “positionality” to our subject matter before assuming to speak for or speak
to issues outside of your own birth identity. As you grow in understanding, please take responsibility for your
own education on cultural practices and world views not native to your own birth culture. Members of
disenfranchised groups are not always able to provide tutorials and orientation sessions while managing their
own distress and marginalization. If they choose to, please note it as an act of generosity. It is not uncommon
for members of any group to experience “ambassador fatigue.” Please don’t take it as a personal affront.
We listen to different points of view and opinions respectfully and authentically, but avoid false politeness
and false consensus.
Communicating positive intent to build trust amongst participants and presenters means we always offer to
contextualize our comments and questions to maintain safety if possible. Examples of contextualizing
questions or comments:
I know we see things differently but I really want to hear what your thoughts are about this. Would
you be willing to please educate me on your perspectives and experiences?
I’m going to fumble with what I want to say, but could you please bear with me while I ask you a
question? I’m keen to learn more about this.
I wish to speak with you about a difficult topic, but I’m hoping to get past that discomfort, and work
towards mutual listening, and understanding with you.
I’m not comfortable with what is happening here, and talking to you about it is very important to me.
Transcultural Fusion Dance (TcFD) is an umbrella terminology that can refer to any deliberate dialogue and
fusion of more than one cultural source. As our adoption of this terminology expands, we may find other
dance communities (beyond MENAHT source inspirations) allied in membership and use of the description.
We applaud this, and invite you to always describe your own dancing with specificity for the cultures,
nationalities, and distinct tradition employed in your choreography and expression.
Avoid oversimplification by adhering to a single narrative on any issue, remember there are exceptions to
every story and, frequently, multiple truths to consider. Please remember that cultural groups will not have
homogeneity in their responses to an issue. Individual temperament and life experience can lead to a variety
of survival strategies against stressors at both a collective and individual level.
Different communities may require different answers and customized considerations for their circumstances
so let’s avoid universalism… it diminishes the beauty and value of differences we aim to celebrate.
We intervene and request a pause when harm is underway, in the moment.
Please remember to use inclusive (or neutral) language when addressing the group. We respect individuals’
inherent right to self-define and identify. We also respect an individual’s identity to be fluid, or in a state of
change. Please use gender neutral language when addressing the group.
Examples: instead of “hey guys,” please try “hello friends” or “dancers” or “everyone”

To challenge the social media culture of suppressing questioning, abrasive, uncooperative, menacing,
harassing, rigid, abusive, uncaring, apathetic, insulting and cruel behavior, anonymity is not allowed at this
event. The presenters and participants will share equally the risks and benefits of conscientious conversation
together. For safety, if you wish to ask a question or comment with privacy for your identity, please direct
your question in a private email to our digital host organization: The host will then
present your offerings to the artists on your behalf without using your identity. Bullying and hate speech are
not permitted. Any violation of this agreement, or efforts to dominate or bully another in our digital
colloquium will result in being muted and booted from the event.
Gatekeeping and tone policing are terms frequently used to tell people of color how they should be reacting
or responding to the acts of oppression directed towards them. Please understand that resistance to acts of
discrimination have often required disruption and challenges to what is considered normal.
Please speak only for yourself and your life experiences. If you make a comment about someone’s identity
without their permission, it has the strong possibility of creating a microaggression.
Grief and emotions are permitted, abuse and insults are not.
Body politics: please do not assume we all share the same notions of gender, masculinity, femininity,
attractiveness, etc.
Please note that not all attendees at this event are practitioners or supporters of transcultural fusion dance,
and you may encounter viewpoints that differ from yours.
Please remember your modeling and behavioral choices may sow seeds of insight and possibility within
someone that bear fruit long after the encounter. We recommend an open heart and thick skin!
Our event does not seek to be the final or authoritative platform for a global art community of practitioners.
We do aim to provide a constructive, non-biased container for equitable exchange and helpful resources. We
invite you to continue the conversation in your own community, and warmly welcome you to share your
insights and perspectives as generously as you have received them here at GAD.
Thank you for your attention and participation.