Faculty and Invited Speakers
Thomas F. DeFrantz
Born a Hoosier, Thomas F. DeFrantz is Professor of African and African American Studies, DANCE, and Theater Studies at Duke University, and President of the Society of Dance History Scholars, an international organization that advances the field of dance studies through research, publication, performance, and outreach to audiences across the arts, humanities, and social sciences. He is also the director of SLIPPAGE: Performance, Culture, Technology, a research group that explores emerging technology in live performance applications. His books include the edited volume Dancing Many Drums: Excavations in African American Dance (University of Wisconsin Press, 2002, winner of the CHOICE Award for Outstanding Academic Publication and the Errol Hill Award presented by the American Society for Theater Research) and Dancing Revelations Alvin Ailey’s Embodiment of African American Culture (Oxford University Press, 2004, winner of the de la Torre Bueno Prize for Outstanding Publication in Dance). His most recent publication is an anthology, Black Performance Theory, co-edited with Anita Gonzalez (Duke University Press, 2014). A director and writer, his creative works include Queer Theory! An Academic Travesty commissioned by the Theater Offensive of Boston and the Flynn Center for the Arts, and Monk’s Mood: A Performance Meditation on the Life and Music of Thelonious Monk. He has taught at NYU, Stanford, Hampshire College, MIT, and Yale; has presented his research by invitation in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, India, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, South Korea, Spain, and Sweden; and performed in Botswana, France, India, Ireland, and South Africa. In 2012 he established the Collegium for African Diaspora Dance, which hosted the conference “Dancing the African Diaspora: Theories of Black Performance” in February, 2014 at Duke University. Current research imperatives include explorations of black social dance, and the development of live-processing interfaces for performance.
Dr Sherril Dodds is Professor and Chair of the Dance Department at Temple University. Prior to taking up this post in Fall 2011, she was Head of the Department of Dance, Film and Theatre, and Director of Postgraduate Research at the University of Surrey, UK. She is a founder member of the UK PoPMOVES research group and initiated the SDHS Popular, Social and Vernacular Dance Working Group. In 2008 and 2009, she was an Erasmus Visiting Lecturer at Trondheim University in Norway and in 2010 she was a Visiting Academic at the Centre for Cultural Research at Griffith University in Australia. She has published two monographs, Dance on Screen: Genres and Media from Hollywood to Experimental Art (Palgrave, 2001) and Dancing on the Canon: Embodiments of Value in Popular Dance (Palgrave, 2011), and has co-edited an anthology, Bodies of Sound (Ashgate, 2014) with Professor Susan Cook. Her research encompasses dance on screen, popular dance and cultural theory approaches to dance.
Susan Leigh Foster, choreographer and scholar, is Distinguished Professor in the Department of World Arts and Cultures/Dance at UCLA. She is the author of Reading Dancing: Bodies and Subjects in Contemporary American Dance, Choreography and Narrative: Ballet’s Staging of Story and Desire, Dances that Describe Themselves: The Improvised Choreography of Richard Bull, and Choreographing Empathy: Kinesthesia in Performance. She is also the editor of three anthologies: Choreographing History, Corporealities, and Worlding Dance. Three of her danced lectures can be found at the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage website http://danceworkbook.pcah.us/susan-foster/index.html.
Carrie Noland is Professor of French and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Irvine. She is the author of Poetry at Stake: Lyric Aesthetics and the Challenge of Technology (Princeton UP, 1999); Agency and Embodiment (Harvard UP, 2009), which extends her work on textual poetics into the realm of corporeal poetics; and Negritude Voices in Modernist Print: Aesthetic Subjectivity, Diaspora, and the Lyric Regime (Columbia UP, 2014), which brings together performance theory and lyric reading, the racialization of the subject and the performance of identity. Collaborative projects include Migrations of Gesture (Minnesota UP, 2008), co-edited with Sally Ann Ness, and Diasporic Avant-Gardes, co-edited with Language poet Barrett Watten (Palgrave, 2009). At present, she is working on a manuscript on the choreographer Merce Cunningham supported by a fellowship from the Guggenheim Foundation and the Clark Art Institute/Oakley Center.
Mellon Dance Studies 2014 Summer Seminar Class
Daniel Callahan is the Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Music and the Humanities at the University of Chicago. His book project, The Dancer from the Music, explores choreomusicality in US modern dance from Loie Fuller to Mark Morris. Other research areas include Leonard Bernstein’s multitasking and identity management; the history and aesthetics of audiovisual synchronization; early Arnold Schoenberg; late Tina Turner; and the prehistory, history, and present of the music video, on which he is currently offering a course for Chicago’s undergrads. He is the recipient of a PhD in Musicology from Columbia University and the Selma Jeanne Cohen Award from the Society of Dance History Scholars.
Dasha A. Chapman is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Performance Studies at New York University. She is currently working on her dissertation on contemporary Haitian dance communities and the choreographers that sustain them in both Haiti and its Diasporas of New York and Boston. Chapman received her M.A. from New York University’s Draper Interdisciplinary Program for Humanities and Social Thought, and her B.A. from Boston University in Latin American Studies and Cultural Studies. She performs with Jesse Phillips-Fein in New York City, and is also a student and performer of Haitian, West African, and Afro-Cuban dance.
Joanna Dee Das
Joanna Dee Das, the Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Dance Studies in/and the Humanities at Stanford University, received her PhD in History from Columbia University in May 2014. She is interested in the intersection of race, politics, and performance, and her book manuscript examines Katherine Dunham’s political activism. Dee Das has also written book reviews for Dance Research Journal, contributed entries to the Routledge Encyclopedia of Modernism, and edited interviews with Broadway artists for Studies in Musical Theatre. Finally, in her capacity as a public historian, she is currently co-curating an exhibit on American Ballet Theatre at the Library of Congress.
J Dellecave is Ph.D. candidate in Critical Dance Studies at University of California, Riverside. Her scholarly research focuses on twentieth and twenty-first century United States antiwar dance. Dellecave is a Jacob K. Javits Fellow and has also received the Chancellor’s Distinguished Fellowship and Humanities Graduate Student Research Grant from the University of California, Riverside. She holds a B.F.A. in Dance from Temple University and M.A. in Performance Studies from New York University. Dellecave’s scholarly interests include queer theory, critical race theory, postcolonial studies, temporality, and contemporary political dance.
Adrienne Edwards is a curator, scholar, and writer of performance with a focus on artists of the African Diaspora and the Global South. She is Associate Curator for Performa and Ph.D. Candidate in Performance Studies at New York University where she is a Corrigan Doctoral Fellow. Adrienne’s research interpolates visual art, experimental dance, critical race theory, feminist theory, and post-structuralist philosophy. She has curated and co-organized performance art projects, including Rashid Johnson’s first live work, Dutchman, Dave McKenzie’s All the King’s horses…none of his men, Clifford Owens’ Five Days Worth, Fluxus founding member Benjamin Patterson’s first retrospective concert Action as Composition, and Pope.L’s Cage Unrequited, among others. Adrienne has written on the work of Adam Pendleton, Lorraine O’Grady, Trajal Harrell, Bill T. Jones, David Hammons, Ralph Lemon, Tracey Rose, and Mickalene Thomas, and is a contributor to numerous exhibition catalogues, including “Clifford Owens: Anthology” for MoMA/PS1, “Performa 11” for Performa, “Fore” for the Studio Museum in Harlem, and “Wangechi Mutu” for the Museum of Contemporary Art Sydney.
Ninoska M’bewe Escobar
Ninoska M’bewe Escobar is a Honduran movement artist who trained at The Clark Center for the Performing Arts and Alvin Ailey American Dance Center. She is a doctoral candidate in Performance as Public Practice in the Department of Theatre and Dance at the University of Texas-Austin. M’bewe has had a career as a dancer, teacher, and choreographer, performed in the original cast of “Fame,” and in numerous concert stage productions and venues. Her research considers the interrelatedness of cultural heritage and social experience in the formation of Black identity and theorizes the Black dancing body as a transmitter of auto/body/graphy.
Ashley Ferro-Murray is a choreographer and a doctoral candidate in performance studies with designated emphasis in new media at the University of California, Berkeley. Her dissertation research focuses on media-based choreography and explores the importance of movement in the construction of bodies and identity in the digital age. Ferro-Murray has a forthcoming article in Media-N Journal and has published book reviews in The Drama Review and Dance Research Journal. Ferro-Murray has given talks at The University of Pennsylvania, Bryn Mawr College, and Cornell University and at conferences including SDHS, CORD, PSi, and ASTR. Ferro-Murray’s choreography has been produced by Cornell University, UC Berkeley, The Milk Bar, and ZERO1 Biennial.
Amanda Jane Graham is the Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Dance Studies at Northwestern. Graham holds an M.A. in Communication and Culture from York University, an M.S. in Education from Brooklyn College, and a Ph.D. in Visual and Cultural Studies from the University of Rochester. Her dissertation, titled “The Myth of Movement: Lucinda Childs and Trisha Brown Dancing on the New York City Grid, 1970-1980,” draws on art history, spatial theory, and performance studies, as does her 2013 Dance Chronicle article, “Out of Site: Trisha Brown’s Roof Piece.” Graham is a current gallery director and former community organizer and public school art teacher.
Harmony Jankowski is a doctoral candidate at Indiana University, Bloomington. Her current project, “Gestural Modernism: Performative Choreographies in American Literature and Modern Dance,” works at the intersection of the fields of performance, dance, and modernist studies. Her research addresses formal homologies between the experimental textual practices of early twentieth century writers and dancers, and how their theorizations of movement queer the process through which audiences map identities onto bodies. Her work has received several awards that have enabled extensive archival work at Jacob’s Pillow and the New York Public Library Jerome Robbins Dance Division.
Laura Karreman is a Ph.D. candidate at the research centre Studies of Performing Arts & Media at Ghent University, Belgium. She examines the implications of motion capture technology for dance analysis and documentation and researches practices of dance transmission at the Flemish dance company Rosas. She received an M.A. at the University of Amsterdam, where she wrote a thesis on the use of body metaphors in theatre performance. Laura worked as a dramaturg and researcher in the Dutch art field and she was performing arts advisor for the Amsterdam Art Fund. She taught at ArtEZ Institute for the Arts in Arnhem and the Theatre Studies department of Utrecht University.
Paula Kramer is an outdoor practitioner-researcher based in Berlin (GER), who performs, teaches and researches in remote rural as well as urban sites. She has a background in political science and is currently completing her practice-as-research PhD in Dance at Coventry University (UK). Her work attends to materiality in dance and argues to sense, think and move beyond the human, to include the context of the world, the other-than-human, into what is seen and understood as having agency and relevance for dance and dance making as well as for living.
Michael J. Morris is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Dance at The Ohio State University. Their research focuses on theorizing ecosexualities in performance, examining the entanglement of sexuality with nonhuman life in dance, performance art, and pornography. Morris is published in The Oxford Handbook of Dance and Theater (forthcoming) and the European Journal of Ecopsychology. Morris has taught Writing About Dance, History of Western Concert Dance, Yoga, Butoh, Modern Dance, and Ballet Technique, and is certified in Labanotation. They have collaborated on performances with queer ecologist Catriona Sandilands and artists Annie Sprinkle and Elizabeth Stephens.
Megan Nicely is an artist/scholar and educator whose research focuses on experimental dance after 1960 in the US and Japan, with a particular interest in a dancer’s process of thinking while moving. She directs and performs with her company Megan Nicely/Dance, who has appeared on both US coasts, the UK, and Europe, and has published articles in TDR, Performance Research, and InDance. Megan earned her MFA in dance from Mills, her PhD in performance studies from NYU, and is currently Assistant Professor in Performing Arts at University of San Francisco, whose program focuses on the arts and social justice.
J. Lorenzo Perillo is the Andrew W. Mellon Diversity Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Performing and Media Arts with affiliations with the Asian American Studies and American Studies Programs at Cornell University. Lorenzo earned his PhD in Culture and Performance and Concentration in Asian American Studies at UCLA. Born in Hawai‘i and raised in San Diego, Lorenzo is working on a book project that explores the role of Hip-hop in Filipino communities across the Pacific. Featured in Theatre Journal and Hip-hop(e): The Cultural Practice and Critical Pedagogy of International Hip-Hop, his work has received generous funding by the Asian Cultural Council, Fulbright-Hays Program, and the Ford Foundation.
Ph.D. candidate, Performance Studies, Designated Emphasis in Gender, Women & Sexuality, UC Berkeley; B.A. Persian language & literature, Dance, Anthropology, University of Washington. Heather’s research extends upon fifteen years as a dancer, choreographer, and artistic director among diasporic Iranian communities in the U.S. Her dissertation is the first major study on diasporic Iranian dancers and performance artists that utilizes transnational feminist and queer theoretical frameworks to investigate racialized economies of Iranian performance in global art markets and among transnational audiences within post-9/11 contexts. She further examines these artists’ works in relation to Euro-American geo/biopolitics and neoliberal discourses on immigration and war.
Hannah Schwadron received a PhD in Critical Dance Studies and an MFA in Experimental Choreography from UC Riverside. Her scholarly research focuses on the curious return of the 19th century “Sexy Jewess” in neo-burlesque, progressive religious circles, mainstream and adult film. Her article, “(Post) Pious and Porn Spectacles: Frontier Choreographies of the US Jewess” will be included in American Dance Book, eds. Jennifer Atkins, Sally Sommer and Tricia Young (Florida State University Press, 2014). Hannah taught dance theory-practice courses at Queens College, CUNY this year, and will begin as Assistant Professor of Dance History at Florida State University this fall.
Elizabeth Schwall is a Ph.D. candidate in Latin American History at Columbia University and holds a B.A. from Princeton University. Her dissertation examines how various dance forms – ballet, modern dance, folkloric dance, and spectacles on television, in cabarets, theaters, and the streets – contributed to public discourse on society, politics, and culture in Cuba from 1950 – 1990. She has contributed to the forthcoming Routledge Encyclopedia of Modernism and Dictionary of Caribbean and Afro-Latin American Biography. A Graduate Research Fellowship from the Cuban Heritage Collection at the University of Miami and a Mellon Traveling Fellowship from Columbia University supported her dissertation research.
Noémie Solomon is a Mellon Postdoctoral fellow in the faculty of arts at McGill University where she is working on modern Québecois history around questions of subjectivity and unworking. She received her PhD in Performance Studies at New York University, and holds a Maîtrise and a DEA in Dance Studies from Université Paris 8. She edited DANSE: an anthology on theories of contemporary dance in France and the U.S. (Les Presses du réel, 2014) and her writing and translations have been published in journals and anthologies including Dance Research Journal, TDR, Movement Research, Planes of Composition, and Perform Repeat Record.
Jade Power Sotomayor
Jade is a code-switching, hyphen-jumping, border-crossing, Cali-Rican educator, dancer, actor and scholar of performance who engages embodied practices of remembering and creating community as a lens for theorizing performative constructions of Latinidad. She has a Master’s degree in Latin American Studies and a PhD in Theater from UC San Diego. Her research focuses on epistemologies of the body, the intersections between race, gender and language, and on the inter-cultural dance practices of Chicana/os and members of the Latin Caribbean diaspora. Her work has been published in e-misférica, Latin American Theatre Review, Gestos and in the Oxford Handbook of Theatre and Dance.
Melissa Templeton received her PhD in Critical Dance Studies from the University of California, Riverside in 2012 and has since taught courses in global studies (UCR), and dance (Texas A&M International University and University of Nebraska, Lincoln). Her current research brings together theories of embodiment, colonization, and racial construction to analyze how “whiteness” is constructed in Québec. Her dissertation, Polyrhythmic Dance Currents: Race Multiculturalism and the Montreal Dance Community received support from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (2010-2012) and her work has been published in Dance Collection Danse Magazine and The Dance Current.
Trained as a dancer at the Anne-Marie Poras School of Dance in Montpellier, France, Lucille Toth studied for a MA in the French Studies department at the University of Montreal, Canada. She recently earned a doctorate at the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles, USA, where she worked on the ways modern medicine influenced 21st century aesthetic and its notions of beauty, disgust and sickness, through the figure of the dancer both in literature and dance performances. Last year, she collaborated with the French choreographer Thomas Lebrun as a consultant and specialist of the performed sickly body for his latest creation, which deals with AIDS, trauma and the consequences of thirty years of feared sex. Among other publications, she is currently co-writing a book on literature and contemporary dance that will be published by the National Center of Dance in France in 2015.
Christopher J. Wells is an incoming Visiting Assistant Professor of Music at Reed College in Portland, Oregon where his course “Jazz: Music, Dance, and Embodiment” will be crosslisted with the Dance Department. Chris’s research focuses on intersections between jazz music and popular dance, and he has been a lindy hop and Charleston dancer for twelve years. His work on popular dance culture in Harlem during the Great Depression will appear in the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Dance and Ethnicity. He also does activist work exploring gender fluidity, resisting patriarchy, and promoting safe space in partnered dance communities.
Sarah Wilbur is a Ph.D. candidate in culture and performance at UCLA’s Department of World Arts and Cultures/Dance, where she earned a MFA degree in dance in 2012 as a Jacob K. Javits Fellow. She studies dance and institutional practices, and her dissertation draws together dance, performance, and policy studies through a choreographic analysis of the infrastructural operations of the US National Endowment for the Arts. Sarah currently runs a dance program for US veterans living with severe mental illness for the Greater Los Angeles VA Healthcare System, and her writing appears in the 2013 Journal of Emerging Dance Scholarship.
Seth Williams is a doctoral candidate in English Literature at Columbia University whose research concerns the relationship of dance and literary cultures in the 16th and 17th centuries. He received bachelor’s degrees in Dance and Comparative Literature from the University of California at Irvine, where he worked closely with Donald McKayle. His performance career included appearances with the Mark Morris Dance Group, the Sean Curran Company, and the New York Baroque Dance Company. He has taught master classes and workshops in both modern and period dance at a variety of colleges and dance studios, contributed an essay to When Men Dance: Choreographing Masculinities Across Borders (Oxford University Press, 2009), and contributes book reviews to Dance Research Journal. Research interests include: Renaissance culture and literature, especially drama; textual studies and dance notation; performance studies; poetics and somatics.
Hentyle Yapp will be a Mellon Chau Postdoctoral Fellow at Pomona College in Gender and Women’s Studies (beginning July 2014). Yapp’s research engages disability studies, visual art, dance, affect theory, and contemporary China. Yapp danced professionally for experimental and contemporary companies in New York and Taipei and continues to choreograph for companies and other art spaces. Education: PhD from UC Berkeley in Performance Studies; JD from UCLA School of Law, specializing in Critical Race Theory & Public Interest Law; and BA from Brown University in French Literature.
Natalie Zervou is a Ph.D. candidate in Critical Dance Studies at the University of California, Riverside. She has an MA in Dance Studies from the University of Surrey, where she was awarded with the annual Janet Lansdale Award for the best dissertation, and also holds a BA in Political Science from the University of Athens, and a Diploma in Dance Pedagogy. Zervou’s research interests concern contemporary dance in Greece, during the current socio-political and economic crisis. Her focus is on the ways that dancing bodies negotiate national identity construction in this fluctuating landscape, and the material impact that the crisis has had on them.