Duke University to Host African Diaspora Dance Conference

Duke students in performance

Duke University is celebrating Black History Month with an emphasis on dance. The school, which has a strong African dance curriculum, will host a conference February 7–9 called Dancing the African Diaspora: Theories of Black Performance.

The event was organized by the Duke-based Collegium for African Diaspora Dance, a group of dance students, performers and educators led by Thomas F. DeFrantz, professor of African and African American Studies and Dance at the university. He teaches classes in black dance and black performance theory.

During the three-day conference, more than 75 presenters from across the country will address the African diaspora’s effect on dance around the world, in styles from swing to tap to hip hop. The event will include a world premiere by Urban Bush Women, currently in residence at Duke, as well as a talk by company founder Jawole Willa Jo Zollar. Additionally, B-girl Ana “Rokafella” Garcia will screen and discuss her film All the Ladies Say, about women in break dancing.

Visit Duke University’s website for more information or to register.

Photo by Les Todd, courtesy of Duke Photography

Teacher Voices
Getty Images

I often teach ballet over Zoom in the evenings, shortly after sunset. Without the natural light coming from my living room window, I drag a table lamp next to my portable barre so that the computer's camera can see me clearly enough. I prop the laptop on a chair taken from the kitchen and then spend the next few hours running back and forth between the computer screen of Zoom tiles and my makeshift dance floor.

Much of this setup is the result of my attempts to recreate the most important aspects of an in-person dance studio: I have a barre, a floor and as much space as I can reasonably give myself within a small apartment. I do not, however, have a mirror, and neither do most of my students.

Keep reading... Show less
Music
Allie Burke, courtesy Lo Cascio

If you'd hear it on the radio, you won't hear it in Anthony Lo Cascio's tap classes.

"If I play a song that my kids know, I'm kind of disappointed in myself," he says. "I either want to be on the cutting edge or playing the classics."

He finds that most of today's trendy tracks lack the depth needed for tap, and that there's a disconnect between kids and popular music. "They have trouble finding the beat compared to older genres," he says.

Keep reading... Show less
Teachers Trending
Courtesy Lovely Leaps

After the birth of her daughter in 2018, engineer Lisa McCabe had reservations about returning to the workforce full-time. And while she wanted to stay home with the new baby, she wasn't ready to stop contributing financially to her family (after all, she'd had a successful career designing cables for government drones). So, when she got a call that September from an area preschool to lead its dance program, she saw an opportunity.

The invitation to teach wasn't completely out of the blue. McCabe had grown up dancing in Southern California and had a great reputation from serving as her church's dance teacher and team coach the previous three years (stopping only to take a break as a new mother). She agreed to teach ballet and jazz at the preschool on Fridays and from there created an age-appropriate class based on her own training in the Cecchetti and RAD methods. It was a success: In three months, class enrollment went from six to 24 students, and just one year later, McCabe's blossoming Lovely Leaps brand had contracts with eight preschools and three additional teachers.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.