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To start with a word and end with a gesture: Celebrating Ntozake Shange’s Dance We Do

October 18, 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Join us for a virtual celebration for the publication of Dance We Do: A Poet Explores Black Dance on Ntozake’s Shange’s birthday. Register here to attend.

Barnard College’s Shange Magic project, in collaboration with Beacon Press and the Shange Literary Trust, present a virtual launch of visionary poet and playwright Ntozake Shange’s (BC ’70) first posthumously published book, Dance We Do: A Poet Explores Black Dance (Beacon Press, 2020). A testament to the power of dance and the community it creates, Dance We Do features interviews with Black choreographers with whom Shange danced, studied, and celebrated. This virtual launch honors the contribution of Dance We Do to the academic field of dance study. In making space for the study of Black dance history in academia as well as outside of it, Dance We Do offers a critical examination about the history of dance in the academy.

“No graduate students came to trace the opus of these masters. So, on the internet, at the library, in the dance magazines, Black dance doesn’t exist yet.” — Ntozake Shange, Dance We Do

The launch celebration will include an introduction on the creation of the text, pre-recorded footage of dance performances; and a panel discussion with dance scholars and practitioners, including several choreographers featured in the book.

Remarks and Introductions from:

  • Paul Williams
  • Renee’ Charlow
  • Alexis Pauline Gumbs

A panel discussion moderated by Gabri Christa, with:

  • Dyane Harvey
  • Dianne McIntyre
  • Halifu Osumare

Register here to attend and order Dance We Do: A Poet Explores Black Dance from Beacon Press here.

This event will be captioned. If you have accessibility needs, please contact Martha Tenney (mtenney@barnard.edu).

Participant Bios

Paul T. Williams, Jr., the brother of the late Ntozake Shange, has had a career as a lawyer and banker, and served as the CEO of the New York State Dormitory Authority. Paul is currently the Management Trustee of the Ntozake Shange Trust. He is a graduate of Phillips Exeter Academy, Yale University and Columbia University Law School. As an undergraduate, he was named a Ford Trustees’ Scholar and studied at the American University in Cairo.

Reneé L. Charlow is a performer, director, performer, writer, a professor of Theatre at Shepherd University, and a professor of Literature at Southern New Hampshire University. Reneé was the personal assistant to Ntozake Shange from 2014 to 2018. She served as associate producer and assistant director for the production of Shange’s Lost in Language and Sound at Karamu House, Cleveland, OH, and directed full productions for colored girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow is enuf at Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA) and Bowie State University, Bowie, MD. She recently completed her Masters in Art Therapy at Pratt Institute, with the thesis, I found god in myself, too: an ethnographic examination of the writing of ntozake shange.

Alexis Pauline Gumbs (BC ‘04) is an award-winning scholar and author. She is the author of M Archive: After the End of the WorldDub: Finding Ceremony; Spill: Scenes of Black Feminist Fugitivity; and the forthcoming Undrowned: Black Feminist Lessons from Marine Mammals and the co-editor of Revolutionary Mothering: Love on the Front Lines. Alexis lives in Durham, North Carolina where she stewards the Mobile Homecoming Trust Living Library of Queer Black Brilliance. She is currently in residence as a National Humanities Center Fellow, funded by the Founders Award. During her residency she is writing The Eternal Life of Audre Lorde: Biography as Ceremony (forthcoming from Farrar, Straus and Giroux) and Go There, a book about the Black feminist transnational history of Essence Magazine.

Dyane Harvey is a dance educator at both Princeton and Hofstra Universities, choreographer/movement director, performing artist, and founding member of Forces of Nature Dance Theatre. Having performed nationally and internationally with iconic Black choreographers,( Eleo Pomare, George Faison, Otis Sallid, Joan Miller, Dianne McIntyre, John Parks, Shawneequa Baker-Scott, Talley Beatty, Abdel R. Salaam and others) in Broadway and Off-Broadway productions and film, prepared her for an inspirational collaborative relationship with Ntozake Shange. She was an original cast member of Spell #7 and Boogie Woogie Landscapes, as well as choreographer for Hydraulics Phat Like Mean, (The Acting Company) and Lavender Lizards and Lilac Landmines, Layla’s Dream (University of Florida at Gainesville) and Spell #7 (Crossroads Theatre). An Act of Listening, Riding With the Muse chronicles collaborations with Ntozake and has been published in The College Language Association Journal, Shange Special Issue.

Dianne McIntyre is a dancer, choreographer and director whose Harlem-based company Sounds in Motion was founded in 1972 and who creates works for concert dance, Broadway, and regional theater. Her screen credits include Beloved and Miss Evers’ Boys (Emmy Award nomination). Among her honors are a Doris Duke Artist Award, a Guggenheim fellowship, two honorary degrees, and numerous grants. She collaborated and choreographed with Ntozake Shange on many projects, including Spell #7, Boogie Woogie Landscapes, Why I Had to Dance, lost in language and sound, and It Hasn’t Always Been This Way.

Halifu Osumare has been involved with dance and Black popular culture internationally for over forty years as a dancer, choreographer, teacher, administrator, and scholar. She is professor emerita of African American and African studies at the University of California, Davis, and has written two books on global hip-hop and a memoir, Dancing in Blackness. As an artist and dance activist, Dr. Osumare was a soloist with the Rod Rodgers Dance Company; was the founder and former co-director of Oakland’s first multi-ethnic dance institution, Everybody’s Creative Arts Center (now the Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts); and is a certified instructor for Dunham Technique Certification, which continues the legacy of dancer-anthropologist Katherine Dunham.

Gabri Christa teaches Dance, Composition, Screendance and Dance in Film at Barnard College, where she also started the Moving Body – Moving Image Festival, a bi-annual Screendance Festival around Social themes. Gabri came to filmmaking after a successful career as a choreographer and dancer with companies such as Danza Contemporanea de Cuba and the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company. Awards include the Guggenheim for Choreography, an ABC television award for creative excellence for her short film “High School” and Pangea Day Festival’s one World’s 100 most promising Filmmakers distinction. Her films KASITA and her Documentary UN DIA KADA MOMENTU won several awards. She wrote, choreographed and produced and is currently performing her one woman multi-media show MAGDALENA about her mother and dementia. She is an Atlantic Fellow for Equity in Brain Health.


October 18
5:00 pm - 7:00 pm
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