Art of Diplomacy Conference Returns to UM

December 28, 2017

MISSOULA – Performers, artists and academics from around the world will come together to discuss how art influences culture during the 2018 Art of Diplomacy conference hosted by the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Center at the University of Montana. The third annual conference will take place from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan.13, in the University Center Ballroom.

The conference, held in conjunction with Rocky Mountain Ballet’s international dance competition and film festival, “Ballet Beyond Borders,” will include performances from around the world and engaging panel discussions examining the role of art in science, social justice, youth empowerment and more. Performances will range from traditional Zulu to Panamanian dance.

The first session will feature a discussion about how the arts and sciences interact, with panelists Merrit Moore, a quantum physicist and professional ballerina; Erica Rose Jeffrey, the director of Dance for Parkinson’s Australia and the Peace and Conflict Studies Institute Australia; and local artist and UM Professor MaryAnn Bonjorni.

Another keynote session will include faculty from Ballet Hispanico and Centro de Artes Escenicas de Panama joining Rafael Chacon, UM professor of art history and international lecturer, to examine the power of viral dance across Latin America. Additional panel discussions will explore how ballet is empowering youth in South Africa and the secrets to being a global leader and artist.

All events are free and open to the public, and a light lunch will be provided. Conference participants must register by Friday, Jan. 12. More information, a complete schedule and registration are online at

The conference precedes the “Ballet Beyond Borders” culminating event: the awards ceremony and dance of champions at 6 p.m. in UM’s Dennison Theatre. Tickets for that event are available online at

The Art of Diplomacy is co-sponsored by Rocky Mountain Ballet Theatre, Ballet Beyond Borders and UM. For more information, call conference manager Shanti Johnson at 406-243-6605 or email

Contact: Shanti Johnson, conference manager, UM Maureen and Mike Mansfield Center, 406-243-6605,