purpose | previous meetings | schedule | publications by members | contact


Black Performance Theory 2007:
Theory in Motion


Confirmed Participants:

Marlon M. Bailey (Ph.D., M.A. University of California, Berkeley, M.F.A. West Virginia University, B.A. Olivet College) is a UC-Berkeley Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow in Gender and Women’s Studies.  In the fall of 2007, Dr. Bailey will be an assistant professor of Gender Studies and African American and African Diaspora Studies at Indiana University, Bloomington.  He earned his PhD in African Diaspora Studies with a designated emphasis in women, gender, and sexuality in the African American Studies Department at UC-Berkeley.  His dissertation project entitled, “The Labor of Diaspora: Ballroom Culture and the Making of a Black Queer Community,” is a performance ethnographic study of Ballroom culture, an alternative Black and Latina/o queer community. Marlon’s article, “Rethinking the African Diaspora: Ballroom Culture and HIV/AIDS Prevention,” will appear in the forthcoming collection entitled, African Diaspora: Race, Citizenship, and Modern Subjectivities, Edited by Percy C. Hintzen, Jean Muteba Rahier, & Felipè Smith.  Marlon is a professional actor and director.  Recently, he performed in the San Francisco production of “The Hard Evidence of Existence: a Black Gay Sex (& Love) Show.”  He has performed in and directed professional productions in D.C., Minneapolis/St. Paul, Louisville, San Francisco, Detroit MI, and Accra, Ghana, West Africa.  He starred as Boy Willie in the Plowshares Theatre and the Boars Head Theatre joint production of August Wilson’s Piano Lesson in MI.  He has also directed several productions such as Mud, River, Stone at the Actor’s Guild of Lexington and “Desert Dreams” at the National Theatre of Ghana.  Marlon has worked as a staff member and a consultant for HIV/AIDS prevention organizations such as AIDS Project East Bay in Oakland CA., and the Men of Color Motivational Group Inc. in Detroit, MI. WORKING WITH STEPHANIE BATISTE FOR BPT2007
Batiste Stephanie Batiste (PhD, George Washington University; AB Princeton University) is interested in relationships between representation, performance, identity, race, and power -- not necessarily in that order. Her book project, Darkening Mirrors: Imperial Representation, Otherness, and Subjectivity in Depression Era African American Performance (Forthcoming Duke UP) examines 1930s Black stage and screen productions for their express and underlying imperial representations and ideologies. She also performs in dramatic works. Batiste is developing her performance piece, Stacks of Obits, for the stage. Stacks addresses themes of family, love, loss, and home through a consideration of gun violence and street murder in Los Angeles. Batiste currently teaches at Carnegie Mellon University. She is on the Executive Board of the The Women and Theater Program of ATHE. WORKING WITH MARLON M.BAILEY FOR BPT2007
Annemarie Bean's academic focus has been primarily on performance studies and inter-cultural performance, with a particular concentration on performances of race and gender. She is the co-editor, along with James V. Hatch and Brooks McNamara, of Inside the Minstrel Mask: Readings in Nineteenth-Century Blackface Minstrelsy, published by Wesleyan University Press in 1996 and winner of the 1997 Errol Hill Award, given for outstanding scholarship in African American theatre studies by the American Society for Theatre Research. Bean is also the editor of A Sourcebook on African-American Performance: Plays, People, Movements, published by Routledge in 1999. In addition, she has published articles and book reviews in numerous theatre and performance studies journals. WORKING WITH NADINE GEORGE FOR BPT2007.
  Melissa Blanco (BA Brown University, MA USC) received her PhD in Dance History & Theory from UC Riverside in December 2006. Her dissertation  “A Case of Hip(g)nosis: An Epistemology of the Mulata Body and her Revolutionary Hips” (chaired by Anna Beatrice Scott) analyzes the tragic figure of the mulata and her crucial role in various forms of cultural production in Cuba, and throughout the Caribbean and Circum-Atlantic.  She contests the literary trope of the “tragic mulata” and argues that there can be no such thing as tragedy when an active body uses her hips to claim territory, citizenship, and socio-cultural agency. She is currently preparing a chapter for Alicia Arrizón (UCR) and Deborah R. Vargas’ (UCI) forthcoming edited volume entitled Sensualidades:Latina/o Sensualities in Sounds and Movements where she does a critical performance analysis of the Mexican cabaretera film Mulata (1954). Trained in Afro-Cuban dance, she has performed in New York, Los Angeles, and Havana. Her scholarship endeavors to demonstrate how dance and theories of the body provide new methodologies for inquiries into such perennial issues of identity as nation, gender, and racialization.  She is also working on a cabaret spectacle entitled “Mulata Madness” based on sections from her dissertation. WORKING WITH ANNA B. SCOTT AND RICHARD C. GREEN FOR BPT2007
Pamela Booker is a New York City-based writer/educator and visual artist, who works across genres and disciplines in the creating of performance/dramatic texts, poetry, fiction, critical essays and conceptually-based multimedia driven productions. Recent publications include: The L Word & (Miss)ing Blackness, Evolutionary Girls Publishers (Spring 2007), Notes for a Performance Project: Adrian Piper, Jessye Norman & Immanuel Kant, Univ. Muenster/CAAR (Germany 2007), Staging black/female/body in the Age of Global Terror, Women & Performance: a journal of feminist theory, Routledge (2006).Current performance projects and plays include: Adrian Piper/Jessye Norman and the (German) Philosopher that Seduced Them! (Germany, 2006), Dust (2003, 2006), Seens from the Unexpectedness of Love  (2005)and The Mall Land (2005). These works have been produced by or received directed readings at Smith College, MA, and in New York at The Ohio Theater/Soho Think Tank series, The West End Theatre, Naked Angels Theatre Lab, HERE, Tribeca Performing Arts Center/CUNY, New Perspectives/Voices from the Edge Festival and Dixon Place. M.A. in Performance Studies/Dramatic Writing, New York University (2003) and M.F.A. candidate in Interdisciplinary Arts, Goddard College (2007). Assistant Professor, Faculty Arts & Science, NYU and Assistant Director, Advising, Parsons the New School for Design. WORKING WITH VENUS OPAL REESE FOR BPT2007
Rashida Braggs Rashida Braggs (Ph.D Northwestern University, M.S. Boston University, B.A. Yale University) is a post-doctoral teaching fellow in the Introduction to Humanities program at Stanford University. In her
dissertation, “American” Jazz: Traversing Race and Nation in Postwar France, Rashida problematized the idea that jazz is uniquely American by investigating collaborations of African-American artists and their French counterparts in postwar France. Braggs has published in Nottingham French Studies and her current projects include an article on jazz saxophonist Sidney Bechet and a creative non-fiction piece on vocalist Inez Cavanaugh.WORKING WITH SOYIKA DIGGS FOR BPT2007
Jennifer Devere Brody's (Ph.D. University of Pennsylvania) first book, Impossible Purities: Blackness, Femininity and Victorian Culture (Duke,1998), reads intersections among race, class, gender and sexuality. Her forthcoming project, The Style of Elements: Politically Performing Punctuation (under contract with Duke) looks at similar concerns in art, dance and theater. She has published work on a wide range of topics from African American literature, to cultural studies as well as black feminism and film. She is President Elect of the Women and Theatre Program. WORKING WITH TAVIA NYONG'O AND KORITHA MITCHELL FOR BPT2007.
  Brandi Catanese(PhD, Stanford University) is an Assistant Professor in the Departments of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies and African American Studies at UC Berkeley. Her research focuses on black drama and performance studies, and her current book project, Racial Transgressions: Colorblindness, Multiculturalism, and Black Performance, analyzes performance as the cultural mode through which national anxieties about the competing discourses of colorblindness and multiculturalism have been articulated, managed, and challenged. Her next project, also underway, is an examination of theatricality and black politics. WORKNG WITH JEFFREY Q. MCCUNE JR. FOR BPT2007

Nicole Castor(A.B.D., University of Chicago), is currently a Mellon Writing in the Discipline Fellow in African and African-American Studies at Duke University. Her dissertation, "Invoking the Spirit:
Public Culture and the Politics of Nationhood," is based on three years of research on public ritual and festival events in Trinidad (funded by grants from Fulbright-Hays and Wenner-Gren). Her ethnographic work focused on Carnival events, Orisha (Yoruba based) rituals and Black Power (or African Consciousness) movements as rich sites in which Trinidadian, African and Afro-Trinidadian identities are created and contested. Her next project will be a monograph based on further field research in Trinidad on gender and sexuality in relation to the public performance of race in Carnival (tentatively titled "Spirit of Canboulay: Carnival Culture and Critical Practices"). One focus of this study will be popular culture invocations of hybridity as a social solution to the political challenges of diversity within the nation. She is also working on Consuming Blackness Diasporically (CBD), a multi-sited collective performance ethnography project focusing on "traditions" across the Black/African diaspora including Trinidadian rapso and steelpan, Chicago house, and Brazilian capoeira where these traditions are marked as performative legacies of black struggle illustrating the ongoing historical process of decolonization through the realm of cultural practice. Charting each tradition's specific genealogy connected to specific economic, political, social contexts, CBD will use creativity, technology and expression to map out the potent relationship between decolonization, art, culture and identity. WORKING WITH XAVIER LIVERMON FOR BPT2007.

Thomas F. DeFrantz earned degrees from Yale, City University of New York, and NYU, and has taught at NYU, Stanford, and MIT where he is Associate Professor of Music and Theater Arts. His research centers on African American performance. As a performer: Morton Gould Tap Concerto with the Boston Pops conducted by Keith Lockhart; Duke Ellington Tap Concerto with the Aardvark Jazz Orchestra led by Mark Harvey. As a director and writer: affiliations with the Drama League of New York, the Theater Offensive of Boston, and the performance research group Slippage: Performance Interventions in Culture and Technology, in residence at MIT. Recent original plays: Queer Theory! A Musical Travesty, an National Performance Network project commissioned by the Flynn Center for the Arts and the Theater Offensive; The Downright Sexy Adventures of Drew Durango, written with composer Michael Wartofsky for New York cabaret star Darius de Haas; Ennobling Nonna, produced at MIT in 2004; and Monk’s Mood: A Performance Meditation on the Life and Music of Thelonious Monk. Publications include Dancing Many Drums: Excavations in African American Dance (University of Wisconsin Press, 2002) and Dancing Revelations: Alvin Ailey's Embodiment of African American Culture (Oxford University Press, 2004). Served on the boards for the Society of Dance History Scholars and as Book Editor for the Dance Critics Association. For many years he organized the dance history program at the Alvin Ailey School in New York. Core faculty, American Dance Festival/Hollins University MFA Program. Current Research: Black Beauty: Concert Dance in the Africanist Grain. Current Performance Project: House Music Project, which premiered at UT Dallas February, 2006. WORKING WITH OMI OSUN OLOMO FOR BPT2007
soyika Soyica Diggs received her doctorate from the Literatures in English Department at Rutgers University, New Brunswick. Her book project, From Repetition to Reproduction: African American Performance, Drama, and History, examines modes of black performance in African American drama and literature through historical, cultural, and psychoanalytic readings. Currently, Diggs is a Postdoctoral Humanities Fellow at Stanford University. In the fall of 2007, she will begin her appointment as an Assistant Professor of English at Dartmouth College.WORKING WITH RASHIDA BRAGGS FOR BPT2007
NADINE GRAVES-GEORGE (PhD, Northwestern). PhD Faculty UCSD. Nadine's work is situated at the intersection of African American studies, feminist studies, theatre history, and dance history. She is the author of The Royalty of Negro Vaudeville: The Whitman Sisters and the Negotiation of Race, Gender, and Class in African American Theater, 1900-1940 (New York: St. Martinís, 2000) and is already well into her second book, Urban Bush Women and Postmodern Black Performance. In addition to her impressive scholarship, Nadine has written four plays and a screenplay. She also has extensive experience and training as an actor, director, dancer, and choreographer. WORKING WITH ANNEMARIE BEAN FOR BPT2007
Richard C. Green BA, Drama & Italian, Stanford, M.A. NYU Perf Stud, ABD. Dancer w/choreographers such as Marlies Yearby, Diane Frank & Remy Charlip, Reggie Wilson, etc. in NYC, San Francisco and Paris. Essays on Pearl Primus in DANCING MANY DRUMS and "Asadata Dafora and Charles Moore" in Theatre Insight 8-9 and Pearl Primus in Dance Ethnology Journal Spring 1995. Scholarship at Merce Cunningham Studio 91-92 and receipient of Dance Critic's Scholarship Los Anegles Pacific Rim Arts Festival 1989. Former member of Black Theater Network, ATHE, Internat'l Assoc of Blacks in Dance, and Dance Critics Assoc. Taught dance in Italy and `California. Performed with contemp dance company space Ritmique in Florence and Paris. WORKING WITH MELISSA BLANCO AND ANNA B. SCOTT FOR BPT2007
E. Patrick Johnson is Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Performance Studies. He received his BA and MA degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and his PhD from Louisiana State University. His research interests include black gay vernacular traditions, performance ethnography, queer performance, and sexuality studies. As a scholar/artist, Johnson has toured his one-man show, "Strange Fruit", around the country since 1999. The performance is an autobiographical meditation on race, gender, sexuality, regionalism. The script will be published in a forthcoming issue of TDR. In addition to publications in Text and Performance Quarterly, Obsidian II, Callaloo, and Journal of Homosexuality, Johnson's forthcoming book, Appropriating Blackness: Performance and the Politics of Authenticity and co-edited volume (with Mae G. Henderson), Black Queer Theory: A Critical Introduction, will be published by Duke University Press in the Summer of 2003. His next projects include an oral history of black gay men in the South and a collection of autoethnographic essays. WORKING WITH JASON KING FOR BPT2007.
Jason King Jason King is a cultural critic & journalist, musician (performer, vocal arranger, producer, musical supervisor), strategist & consultant to record labels and artists, and live event producer. He is Artistic Director and the founding full-time faculty member of The Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music at Tisch School of the Arts, NYU. He teaches classes on record producing, branding, music moguls, hip-hop, r&b and soul, and jazz. He's written many essays on pop music in books, anthologies and journals and he's a longtime contributing writer for magazines like Vibe, Blender and The Village Voice. Jason has been instrumental in producing multi-day conference events at NYU such as: Sylvester: The Life and Work of a Musical Icon, Roc-a-Fella Records' 10th Anniversary, The Making of Public Enemy's 'It Takes a Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back', Fest Forward: Hip-Hop Unbound. Forthcoming book projects: Blue Magic: Spirit and Energy in Popular Music (Duke UniversityPress) and an alternative history of hip-hop. Working on solo album; musical supervisor for jazz and funk legend Asha Puthli; performances include Central Park Summerstage, Joe's Pub, etc. Serves on the advisory board of The R&B Foundation and member of the editorial collective of Social Text. WORKING WITH E PATRICK JOHNSON FOR BPT2007.
Xavier Livermon currently a Carolina Postdoctoral Fellow for Faculty Diversity  at UNC-Chapel Hill in the Department of Communication Studies, is a graduate of UC Berkeley's African-American Studies Ph.D. program. His work focuses broadly on issues related to black cultural politics, particularly as they manifest themselves globally and diasporically.  His dissertation project, entitled “Kwaito Bodies in African Diaspora Space: The Politics of Popular Music in Post-Apartheid South Africa,” focused on popular music in post-apartheid South Africa as a form of Afrodiasporic communication.  He is particularly interested in how popular music provides a space for the discussion and analysis of post-apartheid South Africa.  In addition he maintains interests in the intersectional construction and performance of gender, sexuality, race, and nation.WORKING WITH NICOLE CASTOR FOR BPT2007.
Koritha Koritha Mitchell (PhD, University of Maryland-College Park) is Assistant Professor of English at Ohio State University. She specializes in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century African American literature, black drama & performance, and racial violence in American literature and culture. She is particularly interested in examining the ways in which written and performed texts create and reflect communities and identities. Her current research project focuses on black-authored lynching plays written before 1930. WORKING WITH TAVIA NYONG'O AND JENNIFER BRODY FOR BPT2007.
Jeffrey Q. McCune ,Jr., (PhD, Northwestern University) is currently the post-doctoral fellow in the University of Rochester’s Frederick Douglass Institute. Presently, he is turning his dissertation into a book, tentatively entitled Trapped by the Closet: Black Masculinity and the Politics of Sexual Passing. This manuscript maps the evolution of the “Down Low” (DL)—men who sleep with men, while often identifying as “straight”--through an ethnographic and media-centered exploration, which addresses the layered complexities of the representation of DL men and their lived experiences. Jeffrey has several publications, in print and forthcoming, which generally explore issues of race, gender, and sexuality. His next immediate project is already under way, examining the relationship between black heterosexual men's "big, black female" performances and white queer appropriations of the "black woman inside me." Jeffrey is interested in how specific performers use Camp in the service of the larger white racist imaginary, while committing violences against the black female body. Jeffrey is also an actor, playwright, poet, and public speaker. In 2004, he actually wrote, performed in, and directed a play based upon his ethnographic research entitled, "Dancin the Down Low" at Northwestern University. His next artistic project is a play which re-visits notions of the “racist south” in the mid-twentieth century, based on his grandmother’s experience in rural Mississippi.  WORKNG WITH BRANDI CATANESE FOR BPT2007
  Tavia Nyong'o Ph.D. 2003; M.A. 2002; American Studies, Yale University B.A. 1995; College of Social Studies, Wesleyan University Biography Major Interests: Performance in the black diaspora, cultural studies, queer and feminist theory, the nineteenth-century, history and memory. Affiliations: ASA, ASTR, MLA, OAH Fellowships/Honors: Marshall Scholarship; Jacob K. Javits Fellowship; Ford Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship; Graduate Fellow, Center for Humanities, Wesleyan; Graduate Fellow, Whitney Humanities Center, Yale University.WORKING WITH KORITHA MITCHELL AND JENNIFER BRODY FOR BPT2007

Omi Osun Olomo/Joni L. Jones, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Performance Studies in the Department of Theatre and Dance, and Associate Director of the Center for African and African American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. She is an artist/scholar who is currently engaged in performance ethnography around the Yoruba divinity Osun, and is writing a collaborative ethnography on the use of a jazz aesthetic and Yoruba sensibilities in theatre featuring the work of Laurie Carlos, Daniel Alexander Jones, and Sharon Bridgforth. While on a Fulbright Fellowship in Nigeria (1997-98), Dr. Jones taught in the Department of Dramatic Arts at Obafemi Awolowo University and contributed Theatre for Social Change workshops for the Forum on Governance and Democracy in Ile-Ife.  Her articles on performance and identity have appeared in Text and Performance Quarterly, The Drama Review, Theatre Topics, Theatre Journal, and Black Theatre News. She is the founder of The Austin Project—a collaboration of women of color artists, scholars, and activists, and their allies who use art for re-imagining society. The work of The Austin Project is being compiled in a forthcoming book tentatively entitled The Austin Project Archive: Experiments in a Jazz Aesthetic.  Her performance ethnography includes Searching for Osun, sista docta, and Broken Circles:  A Journey Through Africa and the Selfsista docta served as the plenary performance at the Second Annual Performance Studies Conference at Northwestern University, and has also been presented at the National Communication Association Conference, Pedagogy/Theatre of the Oppressed Conference, and the Black Women in the Academy II Conference as well as several universities throughout the U.S.WORKING WITH THOMAS F DEFRANTZ FOR BPT2007

Venus Opal Reese (Ph.D., MA Stanford University, MFA, Ohio State University, BFA, Adelphi University) is an award winning solo performer, playwright, director, choreographer and poet.  She is a scholar/performing artist who has performed nationally and internationally for over 17 years. Her latest solo performance work, Split Ends, a piece about Black women and hair, debuted in New York city off-Broadway at La MaMa ETC this past winter. Her performance with the Hip-Hop theatre play, Will Power’s The Seven, was featured in the American Theatre Magazine and won 3 Critic Choice Awards.Dr. Reese’s scholarly performative writing has been published in the Women and Performance journal and the Journal for Global Transformation. Her chapter, “Trans-Atlantic Minstrelsy: Performing Survival Strategies in Slavery and Hip-Hop” is included an anthology about Trans-Atlantic Blackness by Routledge (forthcoming.) Dr. Reese is also in the process of revising an article on “black” acting training as well as her manuscript concerning the performance of race on the Antebellum Plantation for consideration by Southern Illinois University Press. Dr. Reese collaborates with, directs, and produces artists such as Rhodessa Jones Dr. Tommy DeFrantz, and Akin Babtunde in new works through her annual residency program, Performance Innovation residency (PIr.)  Presently, she is an assistant professor of Aesthetic Studies at the University of Texas at Dallas, which also hosts PIr. WORKING WITH PAMELA BOOKER FOR BPT2007


Anna Beatrice Scott Anna Beatrice Scott is assistant professor in the Department of Dance at University of California, Riverside and founding Convener of the Center for Body, Performance & Dance. She specializes in the study, analysis, and performance of dance practices in the African Diaspora, with an emphasis on the performance of epidermal realities as they intersect transnational entertainment industries and local spiritual/ philosophical practices. Anna has performed professionally with Fua dia Congo, Ceedo Senegalese DanceCompany, Abiogenesis (a Chicago based performance art troupe) and Chama Compania de Dança. She is completing an e-book investigation of Carnival, Completamente Pirado: O Carnaval Depois o Novo Linguagem do Pé (Flipped-out Tongues/Wagging Heads), a multimediated, user-driven experience of the ‘Grand Folly’ and race in Bahia, Brazil with Ritsu Katsumata and the dark2digital.com collective. Anna leads the De/Cipherin' Practices Colloquium, a national gathering of scholars working in/on/through/ with the Arts of Africa and Its Diaspora. She served as Provost's Fellow in Theatre, Film and Dance at Cornell University in 2003 to 2005. Her one-woman show, Fish Tales, Rivers and Other Female Parts has been presented at UC San Diego, RISD, Brown University, and MIT. She contributed the entry of "Performance Art" to the Encyclopedia of African-American Culture, Art & History," and "Flip Flop," an essay on the object of Carnival to the forthcoming edition of Vectors On- Line Journal. Her current performance project, BORRACHA:BOUNCE, based in part on "Flip Flop," will be presented at University of Indiana this spring. Fish Tales and other collected works can be found, in part, here. WORKING WITH MELISSA BLANCO AND RICHARD C. GREEN FOR BPT2007
Hershini Bhana Young Hershini Bhana Young is currently an Assistant Professor in English at SUNY at Buffalo where she teaches classes on black diasporic gender and sexuality. Her book "Haunting Capital: Memory, Text and the Black Diasporic Body", published by Dartmouth College Press (UPNE) uses the historically injured bodies of black women, as represented in novels and art by black women, to talk about colonialism, gender, race, memory and haunting. Her second book, in progress, is entitled "Coercive Performances". In it she looks at the intersections between coercion, consent and performance in the lives of historical and fictional black women such as Sarah Baartman and Joanna Stedman. Her most recent article on black criminality in Gayl Jones' Eva's Man appears in African American Review, Fall 2005. WORKING WITH HARVEY YOUNG FOR BPT2007.
Harvey Young is an Assistant Professor of Theatre at Northwestern University, with appointments in Performance Studies, African American Studies, and Radio/Tv/Film. He received his BA in Film Studies from Yale and his PhD in Theatre from Cornell. In additional to publications in Theatre Journal, Text and Performance Quarterly, Film Quarterly, Journal of Film and Video, Film & History, and a/b:Autobiography, Young has several forthcoming articles/book chapters on museum ethics and lynching exhibits, the dramaturgy of Suzan-Lori Parks, and the challenges of interdisciplinary teaching. Currently, he is revising the manuscript for his first book, which investigates how select African American artists and athletes use performance to access the embodied experiences of passed/past black bodies, and is researching, with NEH support, his second book on the explosive growth of regional theatres in Chicago in the 1970s. He is the Director of the Center for Global Culture’s 2006 Summer Institute on Performance at Northwestern University.WORKING WITH HERSHINI BHANA YOUNG FOR BPT2007.

Other attendees are encouraged to inquire or attend using their own resources.