DANCING WHILE BLACK is an artist-led initiative that supports the diverse work of Black dance artists by cultivating platforms for process, performance, dialogue and documentation. We bring the voices of black dance artists from the periphery to the center, providing opportunities to self-determine the languages and lenses that define their work. Since 2012, DWB has gathered folks for more than two dozen public dialogues and performances, and supported the development of 22 Black artists through the DWB Fellowship.
Dancing While Black operates at the intersection of aesthetics and organizing. Central to the work is building partnerships – with presenters, organizers, curators and artists. Over the past five years, Dancing While Black has established ongoing partnerships with BAAD! Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance, BAX/Brooklyn Arts Exchange, NYU’s Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics, the Human Rights Project at the Urban Justice Center, PURPOSE Productions, Urban Bush Women, and Junebug Productions.
Our partnerships are rooted in a mutual commitment to equity and serving the needs and visions of artists. In a field that encourages individualism, our work prioritizes community building. We celebrate that there is a momentum building around shifting the dance landscape, and we are committed to help shepherd these efforts. Our commitment to equity requires our solidarity with others who are also doing the work.
“Dancing While Black is…
an occupational hazard, an unrequested accolade and an immense responsibility.
– Christal Brown
with a world perspective
black body is immense.
dancing with a
expression of the black body
and setting your own ideal, creating a safe space for students
to create their ideal, and encouraging them to make a new door
if they do not see one that is opening for them.
some that don't understand or choose not to understand the concepts, stories, and general importance of my stories.
aching, revealing, grounding,
sustaining, powerful, soulful,
glorious, piercing, historic,
futuristic, present, and awesome.
and setting your own ideal, creating a safe space for
students to create their ideal, and encouraging them
to make a new door if they do not see one that is
opening for them.
It frees and it contains. It expands and compacts,
because as you embody it you become responsible for it
in a particular, a peculiar way. Even if you choose NOT to be
responsible to so called blackness….you still had to choose
THAT, you probably had to say it. And then there it is.
Dancing while black is attractive and repulsive.
Dancing while black is probably not any different than
doing anything else while black. Dancing while black is
significant because of where the dancing is happening—
in an environment where the condition,
blackness/darkness of human skin is an object in and
of itself, significant enough to stand on its own.
that which is happening now,
that which is yet to be.
I am dancing under that influence everyday since I inhabited my mother’s womb and the dance goes on and on…"
Can't be with us in person? Join the Dialogue online.
[PHOTO CREDITS]Header Image: Jaimé Dzandu, photo by Julia Wang | Lisandra Ramos writing on wall from DANCING WHILE BLACK: This Body Knows Freedom by Whitney Browne Photography | Process Photo: Ebony Noelle Golden and Sydnie L. Mosley surrounded by Story Circle participants by Erik Carter | Photo of Paloma McGregor by Erik Carter | [DWB Is Gallery] Photo of folks gathered in circle with person on floor from Dancing While Black: On Fertile Ground at the Ashé Cultural Arts Center in New Orleans, February 2016 by Melisa Cardona | Photo of smiling folks in chairs from DANCING WHILE BLACK: This Body Knows Freedom by Whitney Browne Photography | Photo of dancers in suits: Brother(hood) Dance!, ’15-’16 DWB Fellows Orlando J. Hunter and Ricarrdo Valentine, from DWB: Masculinities Re/born by Charles R Berenguer Jr.