“Dancing in Blackness, A Memoir” wins the 2019 Selma Jeanne Cohen Prize in Dance Aesthetics


The American Society for Aesthetics is pleased to announce the winner of the 2019 Selma Jeanne Cohen Prize in Dance Aesthetics, Dancing in Blackness: A Memoir, by Halifu Osumare, published by the University Press of Florida in 2018.

Dr. Halifu Osumare is Professor Emerita in the Department of African American and African Studies (AAS) at University of California, Davis, and was the Director of AAS from 2011-2014. She has been a dancer, choreographer, arts administrator, and scholar of black popular culture for over forty years. With a Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of Hawai’i at Manoa, and an MA in Dance Ethnology from S.F. State University, she is also a protégé of the late renowned dancer-anthropologist Katherine Dunham and a Certified Instructor of Dunham Dance Technique.

She has been recognized as one of the foremost scholars of global hip-hop, publishing The Africanist Aesthetic in Global Hip-Hop: Power Moves in 2007 and, and The Hiplife in Ghana: West African Indigenization of Hip-Hop in 2012, after her 2008 Fulbright Fellowship at the University of Ghana, Legon. She has published numerous journal articles and book chapters on hip-hop, dance, and Katherine Dunham.

The prize was established in 2008 in memory of Selma Jeanne Cohen, and with enormous gratitude for her generous bequest to the ASA. The $1000 prize is awarded every year, for critical articles or books of distinction in dance aesthetics, dance theory, or the history of dance published in English.

Dr. Osumare will be presented with the prize at the 77th Annual Meeting of the American Society for Aesthetics in Phoenix October 9-12, 2019. She also will be honored at the annual Dance Scholars Breakfast at the meeting.

Read more here: https://aesthetics-online.org/news/458801/ASA-Announces-2019-Selma-Jeanne-Cohen-Prize-in-Dance-Aesthetics.htm

AfroBeat Radio Critical Joy (Third-Wednesday) Series

Join the final

AfroBeat Radio Critical Joy (Third-Wednesday) Series of 2018

December 19, 2018

(Dance Class – 7:00 – 8:30/ CJ Workshop – 8:30 – 10:00/Music & Dance – 10:00 – Midnight)


Location:  Brooklyn Commons, 388 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11217

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CADD – 2018 Dance Black Joy: Global Affirmation and Defiance

Colloquium on African Diaspora Dance, February 2018

Honored to have been a part of this amazing gathering!! Proud to have delivered my workshop Ecstatic Reasoning -blackness protracted: Migration and Constructed Identities. 


Looking forward to 2020

Workshop Today! Critical Joy/Ecstatic Reasoning (CJ/ER)

September 19, 2018        Critical Joy/Ecstatic Reasoning (CJ/ER) – Blackness Protracted Workshop


REGISTER at the door.  More Information: HERE

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Though embodied practices that center on African Diasporic (Black) body technologies of reasoning in and through ecstatic joy, CJ/ER workshop is an exploration and examination of critical joy that is embodied and thereby potentially resurrective.   In CJ/ER workshop the body’s abilities are directed to manufacture (real and/or imagined) spaces/place for reconstruction, reconfiguration, and realignment of self-to-self, self-to-community, and self-to-divine.  CJ/ER workshop participants will be guided through techniques and experience processes for igniting Critical Joy/Ecstatic Reasoning into daily life, and discovery and re/imagine inner embodied resources for navigating through and making sense of life in a problematic world.

When:  8:30 – 10:00 pm Wednesday, September 19, 2018
REGISTER at the door.  More information HERE

Reload Moment: The Making of Carmen Montana

Some years ago (no need to mention how many), I began a journey with the explicit translation of  text to movement/dance.  If I am being honest, my choreographic process, for as far back as I can remember, always began with the translation of the images in my head and/or sensations in my body to text.  I would then, through numerous studio sessions, translate the text to movement/dance and in the process sculpt out the essence of a story.  It is for this reason, I have journal loads of choreo-text, some became fully realized dance works, while others await their dance life.

My collaboration with Joanne Kilgour Dowdy began in the latter years of  the 1990s  when we were both based at Georgia State University.  In that first collaboration we translated  her PhD dissertation to dance.  During subsequent years we collaborated on other projects,  one of which was Carmen Montana: a story of literacy on the move.   Base on the true story of an adult literacy student’s struggle to gain literacy and self actualize, the making of Carmen Montana took Dowdy and I on our own powerful journey.  On this video the then Dr. Dowdy,  now Professor of Literacy Studies School of Teaching, Learning and Curriculum Studies at Kent State University, Ohio,  interviews me about the rehearsal process of Carmen Montana: a story of literacy on the move.  

Michaela DePrince

My interest is in the lives and life stories of African Diaspora women, with particular attention to expressions/articulations of identity and belonging.  Michaela DePrince is an extraordinary artist and survivor of war.  Please share your thoughts on the May 2017 interview.

Notes from the Athens – 2015 SDHS/CORD Conference/Cut & Paste: Advocacy in the Age of Austerity

Emi Yagishita, PhD
Emi Yagishita, PhD
Lori Belilove
Lori Belilove

 Workshop: Isadora Duncan’s Study of Ancient Greek Art, Mythology, and Philosophy Informed Her Work


This  workshop was exquisitely delivered by Lori Belilove; it was detailed packed, drawing heavily on the body knowledge of Isadora Duncan’s methodology.    Emi Yagistita (right), guest demonstrator and Belilove’s student,  is captured in the spirit of Isadora Duncan.


Above, physicist Panagiotis Pantidos takes the plunge, participating in his first ever somatic workshop experience,  Into the Wind: Imagining Landscapes of Renewal delivered by Jessica Fogel.

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Break-in Point: Somatic Narratives, the convergence of arts and science in the transformation of temporal communities at the 2015 SDHS/CORD delivered by Jiannis Pachos, Panagiotis Pantidos, and Carol Marie Webster.   See excerpt of Break-in’ Point video below.


Body and Protest

DSC_0133I am in the process of relocating back to the United States, a process I have been engaged in for several months now. I left the U.S. in 2002, returned for 18 months in 2007, and have been more or less happily away since. When I say happily way, I don’t mean to say that I have had an easy time of it. In fact, of all my close friends I seem to have the most unpredictable and at times precarious life. But one thing has been different the past 10 or so years, I have not had to wake each morning under deadly weight of being black in a land that has culturally (and legally) sanctioned the genocide of all people who look (in one way or another) as if they could be related to me.

In my mid-twenties I stopped my daily ritual of reading the newspapers. It was a matter of survival. Until the moment I stopped this ritual, I had gotten into the habit of reading the newspaper with my breakfast. It’s a commonplace habit. Many people do this simple activity without a second thought. Being up-to-date on current going-ons in the world and in one’s local space is an important adult ritual in which many in the U.S. and elsewhere take part. However, for me this ritual was unusually complicated as it was frequently accompanied with tears and heaving sobs: one more person shot dead, one more person raped, one more person physically or/and socially lynched. The news ‘wring mi belly,’ to use a phrase from my grandmother’s descriptive lexicon. There were days I cried so much that it was only through the emotional handholding of close friends that I was able to function in my then life as a dance artist.    I knew I could not in some magical act change the world, but how could I survive in it when I was in a constant state of recovery, anxious and anticipating the next injustice.

Today, within only a few weeks of my return to this side of the Atlantic divide, and to the U.S. space, I am looking at ways I too can protest the recent killings, and the recent excuses as to why black genocide is possible and inherently necessary in the land of the free home of the brave.

I have walked in more protests than I care to say, my twenties and early thirties were spent protesting in whatever ways I could in the churches and universities and on the streets of New York City. Although I had stopped reading the newspaper I did not stop receiving the news. When it comes to Black Death, my twenties and thirties were  harrowing time,  accidental shootings and AIDS funerals were plentiful and I resented the ordinariness in which ordinary folk talk about the death and dying of people who look (in one way or another) as if they could be related to me. I took it all personally, for me it was personal. My attendance at funerals required a personal commitment to love and justice, love for those who had died and a promise to seek justice in whatever shabby corner of the land in which I had spent a significant portion of my life.   My attendance at marches required a personal decision to bodily protest the bodily denigration so much a part of the cultural intuit of those less likely to be identified as related to on Black lives.

This year I spend my first holiday season in the U.S. in more than a decade and the stark reality of guns, righteous indignation, and daily violent deaths (particularly Black deaths) has saturated the air. I am called to remember that for Black bodies there has been, for as long as my memory and history can tell, a struggle to breathe in the land of the free home of the brave.