Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Rose, Amy D.

Degree Name

Ed.D. (Doctor of Education)

Legacy Department

Department of Counseling, Adult and Higher Education


African American dancers--Attitudes; Choreographers--United States--Attitudes; African American dance teachers--Attitudes; Choreography--United States--Public opinion


This study explored the reasons why some African-American dancers, choreographers, and educators choreograph, how they choreograph, and what they choreograph about. This study investigated how the dance experience provides meaning for these individuals and their perceptions of the meaning of Black dance. Although we know dance has been used as a vehicle of expression for artists, and of particular interest in this study, the African-American artist, we do not know what the dance experience means to these individuals. Prior research has not explored the creation of dance as both a personal and cultural phenomenon for African Americans. No one has looked at how the African-American artist is impacted by internal and external forces and how these forces become manifested in the work they create. To examine these questions and uncover salient themes in the choreography of the African-American artists in this study, an interpretive qualitative design using life history was employed. Twelve professional African-American dancers, choreographers, and educators were interviewed about their experiences as choreographers. The analysis revealed how outside forces (i.e., life experience, socio-political and economic forces, history, music, and religion) impact the artists and become manifested in their choreographic works. The findings disclosed how these artists take what they have learned about self from personal experiences (i.e., life, emotions) and transform that knowledge into dance. The dance making of these individuals comes from their personal experience. Their culture informs their view, which influences their art, manifesting itself in the choreography they create, producing a new and transformed culture of awareness. The reasons the participants choreograph are descriptive, educative, and prescriptive in nature. They use dance to tell stories, communicate, educate, raise awareness of social issues, and in some instances create change in society. The findings indicated these individuals found the dance experience to be empowering, transforming, and liberating. Several of the participants disclosed the dance experience provided an emotional, spiritual, or physical release. Although there was no agreement regarding the use of the term “Black dance,” the participants indicated an African-American aesthetic present in the choreographic works of many African- American artists.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [400]-410).


2 volumes




Northern Illinois University

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