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Back to the Roots: Healing & Spiritual Power of the Spine & Pelvis in African-Rooted Dance

Project type

Dance Conference & Workshops


Year-Long Online Conference


July 25, 2020 - 2021

Colette was one of the creators of this year-long monthly conference featured dancer/master teachers from Africa, the Caribbean, and multiple locales in the US. Back to the Root master teachers with 25+ years of experience in various dance styles from Africa and the African diaspora presented hybrid dance workshops and lectures to diverse audiences that bridged academia to the African-rooted dance community. We ensured that the audiences were comprised of dance enthusiasts, scholars, icons in dance, school-age dance students, and university students.

Back to the Root instructors taught classes primarily in the language of the dances. Wanting to decenter academia's tendency to focus primarily on race in Black Dance and thus miss or minimize the actual cosmologies, epistemologies, and ontologies of the dances, I suggested we focus on the spine and the pelvis and their healing and spiritual power, as this is significant to precolonial conceptions of the body in various places in Africa. The spine and the pelvis are essential parts of the dancing African-rooted body that must be considered when researching and theorizing about the Black body.

The spine and the pelvis carry significant meaning in African-rooted dance that gives context to the dynamic expression of the dancing African-rooted body and dance modalities. As a lead organizer of Back to the Root, we focused on creating a conference grounded in endogenous information on these cultural dances. Each forum was designed in a way that allowed community dialogue.

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