GRA, University of Guelph
Kathe Gray (PhD student, York University Theatre and Performance Studies): My doctoral research explores the second line parading tradition of New Orleans as an aesthetic and ethical model for both the creation of participatory artforms and the conduct of community life. In particular, I consider the second line as what socio-legal scholar Davina Cooper terms an everyday utopia; that is, a space where radical practice coexists with and perhaps even depends on mainstream culture, where imagination and actualisation bump up against one another. I bring to this exploration of performances of community building and place making what I have learned from my Master’s thesis in anthropology, a study of what it feels like—sensorially, physically, emotionally—to play, dance, and listen to improvised music. Inspired by the emergent field of critical improvisation studies, I consider how co-creative music making might orient improvising musicians toward other collaborative ways of being and living in the world.