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Scholar-in-Residence Program

Temple University Institute of Dance Scholarship hosts a week-long Scholar-in-Residence Program three times a year. This funded residency provides opportunity for visiting scholars to present and gather feedback on their own research, and to provide mentoring for doctoral faculty and graduate students from Temple University Dance Department. Spring 2018 Application Information

Fall 2017 Visiting Scholar
Dr. Sheron Wray

September 18-22, 2017
Towards Embodiology: How West African Performance Aesthesis Informs Praxes of Contemporary Dance Improvisation

About Towards Embodiology: How West African Performance Aesthesis Informs Praxes of Contemporary Dance Improvisation

An examination of improvisation as found in dance-drumming performance practices in West Africa reveals multiple modes of sensory and cognitive communication that take place between performers and informed audiences in an ongoing dialogic exchange. In the Ewe case, the critical nature of the relationship between movement, music and language is to be found in their explicit drum syntax, an understanding that is then processed through the body’s varying porous, kinaesonic surfaces. This process is conceptualized as Dynamic Rhythm, the first principle of Embodiology, the theoretical framework that makes it possible for non-practitioners to comprehend inherent improvisation processes in West African dance, to access aesthesis that produce an unceasing reservoir of creativity for its practitioners. Dance-drumming performers are the experts and the construction of Embodiology recognizes the depth of their knowledge. The robustness of their embodied cognition serves not only to unceasingly vitalize traditional performance practices, but Embodiology, a neo-African construction, when applied as an analytical or pedagogical tool to contemporary dance also yields perpetual novelty. The articulation of improvisation from a West African perspective creates a gateway for both the scholarly and artistic fields of dance to develop an understanding of the autopoietic phenomenon that was until now largely hidden.

About Sheron Wray

Dr. Wray, associate professor of dance at the University of California, Irvine, describes herself as a ‘Neo-African Performance Architect.’ She received her PhD from the University of Surrey; her dissertation is entitled, “Towards Embodiology: Modelling Relations between West African Performance Practices, Contemporary Dance Improvisation and Seselelame.” As a result of her interdisciplinary scholarship engaging with dance, music and community-held knowledge, she continues to develop her praxis of Embodiology ® . A new essay on this subject titled "Embodiology®: A Neo-African Improvisation-as-Performance Practice, distinguished by Dynamic Rhythm," is forthcoming in The Oxford Handbook of Improvisation in Dance, edited by Vida Midgelow, and Routledge published an introductory iteration of its grounding concepts in a chapter entitled, "Just after the Pulse, Rhythm Takes All: The Inside Habitat of Improvisation," in British Dance, Black Routes, edited by Christy Adair and Ramsay Burt (2016). Further dissemination of the praxis, demonstrating how movement inspires the mind, is evident in her TEDx talk, “Bodily Steps to Innovation.” In the UK she was a member of both London Contemporary Dance Theatre and Rambert Dance Company, and is also widely known for her role as performer and custodian of Harmonica Breakdown (1938), choreographed by Jane Dudley. She also founded JazzXchange Music and Dance Company, collaborating with musicians including Wynton Marsalis, Gary Crosby, Zoe Rahman and Julian Joseph. Later, her improvisation praxis also reached into digital domains, when her National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts Fellowship produced the award- winning Texterritory, an interactive cell phone based performance platform created in collaboration with Fleeta Siegel.

Past Visiting Scholars
Spring 2017
April 3-17, 2017: Dr. Susan Jones, Oxford University

Susan Jones is Professor of English Literature at the University of Oxford and Fellow of St Hilda’s College. She has published widely on Joseph Conrad and on modernism, women’s writing, and the history and aesthetics of dance. She is co-editor of Joseph Conrad’s Chance (1914), an ongoing project for the Cambridge Edition of the Works of Joseph Conrad. Before beginning a career in academia she was soloist with the Scottish Ballet, Glasgow for fifteen years. Her book Literature, Modernism, and Dance appeared with Oxford University Press in 2013. She is Director of Dance Scholarship Oxford (DANSOX), a programme supported by The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH). http://www.torch.ox.ac.uk/dansox

Fall 2016
October 10-14, 2016: Dr. Harmony Bench, Ohio State University

Harmony Bench is Assistant Professor in the Department of Dance at The Ohio State University, where she is also affiliated faculty with Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Translational Data Analytics. Her writing has appeared in numerous edited collections, as well as Dance Research Journal, The International Journal of Performance Arts and Digital Media, Participations, and Performance Matters, among others. Projects underway include a book in contract with University of Minnesota Press, tentatively entitled Dance as Common: Movement as Belonging in Digital Cultures, as well as Mapping Touring, a digital humanities and database project focused on the performance engagements of early 20th century dance companies.

Fall 2016
October 24-28, 2016: Dr. Jane Desmond, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Jane Desmond is Professor of Anthropology and Gender/Women's Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, U.S.A., where she also directs the International Forum for U.S. Studies: a Center for Transnational Study of the United States.  Formerly a professional modern dancer and choreographer, she served on the dance/theater faculties at Cornell University and Duke University for many years prior to completing a Ph,D. in American Studies at Yale University.  Since then, her scholarly work has focused broadly on issues of embodiment, visual display, and performativity. Her books include: Staging Tourism: Bodies on Display from Waikiki to Sea World, and the influential edited collections  Meaning in Motion: New Cultural Studies of Dance and Dancing Desires: Choreographing Sexuality On and Off the Stage.  Her latest book, Displaying Death/Animating Life:  Human-Animal Relations in Art, Science, and Everyday Life is just out from the University of Chicago Press.

 

Spring 2016
February 15-19, 2016: Dr. Lucia Ruprecht, Cambridge University, United Kingdom

Dr. Lucia Ruprecht

Lucia Ruprecht is an affiliated Lecturer at the Department of German and Dutch, University of Cambridge, and a Fellow of Emmanuel College. She is researching and teaching across literature, dance, and film studies. Her Dances of the Self in Heinrich von Kleist, E.T.A. Hoffmann and Heinrich Heine (2006) was awarded Special Citation of the de la Torre Bueno Prize; her most recent book is New German Dance Studies (edited together with Susan Manning, 2012). From 2013-2015, she was an Alexander von Humboldt Fellow at the Institute for Theatre Studies, Free University Berlin. She is currently completing the manuscript of a book entitled Gestural Imaginaries: Dance and the Culture of Gestures at the Beginning of the Twentieth Century.

 

Spring 2016
March 28 - April 1, 2016: Dr. Joanna Hall, Kingston University, United Kingdom

Dr. Joanna Hall

Dr. Joanna Hall is Principal Lecturer in Dance at Kingston University (UK). Her research focuses on contemporary popular dance practices; particularly those associated with electronic dance music (EDM) sub/club cultures where she examines the relationships between dance and identity using critical and cultural theory. Jo is Chair of the SDHS working group for Popular, Social and Vernacular Dance, a founding member of the international PoP Moves research group and has contributed to Bodies of Sound: Studies Across Popular Music and Dance (eds. Dodds & Cook, 2013) and Decentring Dancing Texts: the Challenge of Interpreting Dances (ed. Lansdale, 2008). Her forthcoming monograph, Popular Dance and Identity, will be published in 2017 with Palgrave Macmillan.

Scholar-in-Residence Program Spring 2018 Application Information