Actor; Choreographer; Dancer; Film, Radio and Television Artist; Historian; Musician; Poet; Singer; Teaching Artist; Visual Artist; Writer
Autobiographical Sketch/Personal Statement
An introductory course to Cultural Anthropology heightened my academic interests. Initially, this undergraduate class enabled me to observe and analyze Hip- Hop culture as an anthropologist. Eventually, I applied these same principles, during my Masters program as a means to observe, analyze and conceptualize art in the African Diaspora. Unknowingly, my professional and academic career was launched and thus I was prepared to seek out several unique opportunities. In 2003, I traveled to Durban, South Africa, with two objectives; to teach Hip Hop Dance styles to students at the University of ZuluLand and in exchange, learn traditional South African Zulu dances with the purpose of transmitting South African cultural practices to students and faculty at Chicago State University. During my doctoral studies in Theatre, I presented original research on several topics; including the economic importance of ‘Barnstoming’ to Negro League Baseball teams and exhibited portraits of the African Diaspora in William Shakespeare’s Othello. In addition to this, I was selected to teach for The Ohio State University’s ‘London Theatre Study Abroad Program’, of which I successfully implemented new objectives and goals for the provided course syllabus ‘American in London.’ This included a personal analysis of being an African American woman in London, visiting art exhibits that specifically focused on African and Caribbean cultures in London, as well as experiencing various cuisines and communities. This approach provided students with a unique perspective on the History and Culture of West Indian migration from Jamaica to England and at the same time, engage them in meaningful dialogue. For example, to coincide with the introduction to Black British plays and playwrights, I arranged for playwright, actor and director Kwame Kwiei- Armah to attend and speak at the British Museum to perspective theatre majors. Not only did this arrangement influence my students, but inspired my most notable contribution to academia; the development of The London, England Study & Research Abroad Program: Performance, History and Literature of The African Diaspora. This unparalleled study and research abroad program developed as a result of various visits to London’s African and West Indian communities, exploring libraries and other archives and active participation in the Notting Hill Carnival. As both participant and observer of these cultures, I managed to develop my doctoral dissertation.
My dissertation topic focuses on the history of the African Diaspora in England post World War II, examines the notion of ‘Black British masculinity’ and explores this identity through live performance. Furthermore, continuous research in Performance Studies coupled with extensive study in London, lead to the development of my dissertation title, The Radical, Rebel, Rudeboy: Performing Representations of Black British Masculine Identity. In addition to the dissertation, I will mount From the Page to the Stage, a live art installation that moreover serves to explore the notion of Black British Masculinity.