Black Performance Theory

Two black dancers in the production of Cane. One points to the sky while the other is crouching.

Black Performance Theory:

A Working Group

Purpose: The Black Performance Theory working group is an interdisciplinary colloquium and discussion group that assembles a small group of scholar/practitioners working with and through performance to investigate and articulate black performance theory. 

The establishment of this working group presents us with a unique opportunity to gather and discuss issues, paradigms, and approaches to theorizing black performance. As we make valuable connections as a community of scholars, we will work towards addressing questions, such as:

  • What is a black sensibility?
  • What is black performance?
  • What is black music?
  • What is black dance?
  • What is black oratory?
  • In the 21st century, what is a black aesthetic?

This working group continues a conversation begun in 1998 at Duke University, at the one-day conference “Reading, Writing, and Representin’: Performance and the Subjects of Race” curated by Richard C. Green.

The bulk of the working group time is devoted to discussion, with the aim of raising more questions and hopefully establishing frames for black performance critique and analysis.

Announcing a colloquium and discussion group to meet at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL, 18-20 2007, sponsored by the Northwestern Department of Performance Studies, Alice Berline Kaplan Humanities Institute Mellon Grant, SLIPPAGE: Performance, Culture Technology at MIT, and hosted by Jennifer Brody, E. Patrick Johnson, and Harvey Young, convened with Thomas F. DeFrantz.

The BPT class of 2017
A woman in a black dress with a projection and shadow behind them.
Thomas DeFrantz performs Monk's Mood.
Netta Yerushalmy's Paramodernities dancers

Black Performance Theory Meetings