Julie B. Johnson, Phddance artistEducator
African Diaspora Dance | Community
EXPERIENCES & MEANINGS
OF 'COMMUNITY' IN
WEST AFRICAN DANCE
I examine participant experiences and interpretations of 'community,' with attention paid to the socio-cultural/political context of 'West African' dance in the United States, specifically in Philadelphia.
2016 Dissertation Study:
Dancing down the floor: Experiences of 'community' in a West African dance class in Philadelphia.
Forthcoming Book Chapter:
"From Warm-up to Dobale: 'Community' Meaning in a West African Dance Class." In African Dance in America: Hot Feet, Perpetual Motion and Diasporan Aesthetics. eds. Esailama Diouf and Kariamu Welsh.
CONTEMPORARY DANCE &
DIASPORA MOVEMENT AESTHETICS
African Diaspora movement aesthetics consists of an ever-emerging and evolving practice, informed by history and tradition, propelled by contemporary interests and innovation, shaped by social structures and environments, and driven by daily lived experiences throughout the continent of Africa and across the Diaspora.
I am affirmed by my multifaceted dance lineage — including technical training in classical ballet, modern dance (Graham, Horton, and Limón), and African Diaspora dance practices, including West African dance forms (specifically derived from Guinea, Senegambia, Mali, and Ivory Coast), social and concert jazz dance, and hip hop forms. I explore the ways these dance lineages are inscribed in my body, the ways they move me, the ways they intersect and diverge in my work.
This performance reel highlights my work with dance artist/choreographer Zakiya L. Cornish beginning in 2012. Cornish draws from her extensive experience with traditional African dance forms to explore contemporary narratives and movement aesthetics. Her creative research centers on the intersections between traditional West African dance, contemporary African Diaspora movement practice, and African American Identity. Training and performing with Zakiya L. Cornish has greatly informed my dance practice.
Other influential artists that I have had the honor to work with or study under in the realm of traditional/contemporary African dance or African Diaspora movement practice include: Maguette Camara, Youssouf Koumbassa, Jerry Kzoto, Cachet Ivey, Lela Aisha Jones, and Dr. Kariamu Welsh.