UCR Celebrates 20th Anniversary of Dance Ph.D.

Unique program a global leader in training dance studies scholars

Javanese dancer

Diyah Larasati, who earned her Ph.D. in dance history and theory in 2006, performs a Javanese dance with the UCR Gamelan Ensemble.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — UC Riverside’s Department of Dance will celebrate the 20th anniversary of its Ph.D. program in critical dance studies — the first of its kind in the United States and one of the few in the world — with a yearlong series of special events and guest artists.

Commemorating the anniversary, the Congress on Research in Dance and the Society of Dance History Scholars will hold a joint conference at the Mission Inn Nov. 14-17. The conference opens with the Schlundt Lecture in Dance Studies delivered by Susan Leigh Foster, an internationally renowned choreographer, dancer, and scholar.

The Schlundt Lecture was endowed by Christena Lindborg Schlundt, a founding faculty member of UCR and of the Department of Dance. Schlundt and Foster were leaders in the UCR Department of Dance who worked to establish the Ph.D. program in 1993. The program was first known as the Ph.D. in dance history and theory.

“Our program is unique in the world,” said Jacqueline Shea Murphy, professor and chair of the Department of Dance. “We are known as the preeminent site for intellectual inquiry into dance, corporeality, movement, choreography, and performance. The specificity of the program’s focus on dance studies — as opposed to performance studies or theater studies — distinguishes it in the field.”

The training doctoral students receive at UCR prepares them to become dance scholars, she said, adding that Ph.D. graduates teach in and lead prestigious dance studies programs around the world, from universities in the United States such as UCLA and Rutgers University to Canada, England, Germany, Norway, Malaysia, South Korea, and Taiwan.

Eiko Otake

Eiko Otake will present a Delicious Movement Workshop on Nov. 14.

The department’s Ph.D. has been on the cutting edge of dance studies since its inception 20 years ago, said Stephen Cullenberg, dean of the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences.

“Its remarkable faculty have trained an equally remarkable group of graduate students who have gone on to stellar careers themselves,” he noted. “It is no exaggeration to say that this relatively small department has transformed the way in which scholars the world over think and write about dance, movement, corporeality and the body. They deserve a really big party to celebrate all of their accomplishments.”

Although dance is typically viewed as a performing art, the Ph.D. program is a rigorous, interdisciplinary and intellectual examination of the way dance embodies practices and negotiates political power, identity, gender, sexuality, race, knowledge, location or space, community and history, Shea Murphy explained.

“The sheer number of research faculty sets UC Riverside apart from all other dance departments in the United States,” she said. “UC Riverside faculty represent the cutting-edge of dance studies.”

Department faculty are nationally and internationally recognized scholars and artists who draw from a variety of academic and creative backgrounds, she added, including history, ethnography, critical race theory, feminist studies/masculinities and queer studies, Marxism/post-Marxism, postcolonial and diaspora studies, choreography, performance studies, media and digital cultures, globalization and cultural translation, as well as specific area studies such as African diaspora studies, American studies, South Asian, Asian diaspora and Asian American studies, Indigenous studies, Latina/Latin American studies, and Global South studies.

Dancer Rulan Tangan

Rulan Tangen, founder of the first Native American contemporary dance company in the United States, will visit UCR in spring 2014.

Recent Ph.D. research projects include: “Bollywood and the Feminine Body on Screen,” “Club Dance, Technology, Culture,”  “Expanding Nations, Moving Bodies: Bharata Natyam Dance Practice in Sri Lanka,” “Passing for Almost Straight: Black Gay Men and the Queer Male Dancing Body,” and “iBody: Apple Computer and the Digitized Body.”

The visiting artist residency of Antonia Baehr, a German choreographer, director, performer and filmmaker, kicked off the anniversary celebration in October with student workshops and a public performance.

Upcoming activities that are open to the public include:

Nov. 14: Delicious Movement Workshop with Eiko Otake, 2:10 p.m., Dance 114C. Eiko is an award-winning, New York-based movement artist and choreographer who for 40 years has worked as Eiko & Koma, who perform in theaters, universities, museums, galleries, and festivals worldwide including numerous appearances at BAM’s Next Wave Festival and the American Dance Festival.

Jan. 23, 2014: An evening artist talk by Ann Carlson, time and location to be announced. Carlson is an award-winning choreographer, director, performer and conceptual artist who has made performance works as series, such as Real People, which included performances by lawyers, security officers, doctors, ranchers, teachers, ballet dancers, nuns, basketball players, custodians, day laborers, a farmer and her dairy cow.

Winter 2014: Screening of Deborah Hay’s film, “Turn Your Fucking Head,” date and location to be announced. Hay is known for the inventiveness of her choreography as well as her innovations in teaching and writing about dance. The film follows 20 dancers who each commission a solo from Hay, who then guides them through the practice of the performance of that solo.

Dancer Jack Gray

Maori dancer Jack Gray founded the Atamira company as a platform for Maori contemporary dance.

Spring 2014: Activities will highlight more than a decade of programming in indigenous contemporary choreography at UCR, including the 10th anniversary of the groundbreaking 2004 Red Rhythms: Contemporary Methodologies in American Indian Dance conference that was supported by a major grant from the Ford Foundation. Among the artists who will be on campus are: Charles Te Ahukaramū Royal, a Māori composer, musician, scholar, and leader in the field of indigenous performance studies, who will deliver the second Schlundt Lecture; Rosy Simas, a Seneca and contemporary choreographer based in Minneapolis whose work addresses how ancestry, homeland, culture, and history are stored in the body and can be expressed through dance; Jack Gray, a contemporary Maori dancer and choreographer who founded the Atamira company as a platform for Maori contemporary dance; and Rulan Tangen, founder of Dancing Earth Creations, the first Native American contemporary dance company in the United States.

Media Contact

Tel: (951) 827-7847
E-mail: bettye.miller@ucr.edu
Twitter: bettyemiller

Additional Contacts

Jacqueline Shea Murphy
Tel: (951) 827-3944
E-mail: jacqueline.sheamurphy@ucr.edu

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