Nankama African Dance Conference

February 8-9, 2020

Registration opens at 8:30 a.m. 

Dancing Narratives, Preserving Culture

The experiences of people, what they think and believe, how they behave and respond to life, are nestled in their cultural narratives. These narratives are conveyed through written text, images, and symbols. The mediums through which these narratives are expressed are infinite in number and vary according to their locations in time and space. However, researchers have historically limited their investigation of cultural narratives to a small number of mediums, with written documents in first place, and drawn images in second. Yet, from remote periods in time to the present, dance has conveyed, preserved, and invented, narratives without the limitations posed by language. The theme of this year’s Nankama African Dance Conference, Dancing Narratives, Preserving Culture, is a call to action for scholars of diverse disciplines to investigate the narratives that exist in the dances of Africa and the African Diaspora.

Conference Schedule

February 8th, 2020

Ralph Bunche International Affairs Center, Main Campus

Opening Remarks

9:20 a.m.

1. Choreographies of Gender, Owning the Space  

9:30-11:55 a.m.


"The Ruses of (National) Memory in the Cinematic Choreographies of Delia Zapata Olivella"

Juan Suárez Ontaneda, University of Illinois-Champaign

"Mamela Nuamza: Re-membering Queer Black South Africa"

Rainy Demerson, Dancer/Choreographer/Educator 

"Rupture, Repair, and Black Women Moving"

Jasmine Blanks, University of Pennsylvania

OreOluwa Badaki, University of Pennsylvania

Lunch Break 12:00-1:45 p.m.

2. Technique, Process, and Practicing Africa

2:00-4:25 p.m.


"Continuity and Change: Beat Reorientation in Mandé Drum and Dance"

James Morford, Independent Scholar

"Afro-Lingua: The Expressive Arts As Diasporic Language"

Winston Benons Jr., Choreographer/Educator

"An Awòdá Analysis of Germaine Acogny's Modern African Dance Technique"

Omilade Davis, Choreographer/Dancer/Educator

February 9th, 2020

Ralph Bunche International Affairs Center, Main Campus

3. Honoring Foundations, Engaging the Historical Present

9:30-11:55 a.m.


"The Gaze of Power, Rebel Bodies and the Specter of Savagery: African and African Descents Dances in the Narrative Eye of the Beholders in Puerto Rico During the XIXth and XXth Centuries"

Noel Allende Goitia, Independent Scholar

"The Decolonization of the Body through the Afropop Movement"

Vanessa Verdoodt, Geffen Academy, UCLA

"The African Dance Diaspora Experience Through a Historical Memory Lens"

Zakia Y. Gates, Cabrini University

Closing Remarks

12:00 p.m.

Conference Lunch:

12:30 p.m.

All you can eat traditional Ghanaian cuisine

Appioo African Bar & Grill

1924 9th Street NW

Washington, DC 20001

*Pay onsite at Appioos: $35.00