TDM 181B: Street Dance Activism: Co-choreographic Praxis as Activism





Professor: Shamell Bell

W - 3:00 pm to 5:45 pm

In this participatory hybrid course, we explore the creation and implementation of Street Dance Activism as a Co-choreographic somatic[1] healing modality, and form of spiritual transcendence, through participating in the Global Dance Meditation for Black Liberation and deeply engaging with The Ritual of Breath is the Rite to Resist[2]. Street Dance Activism’s 28 Day Global Dance Meditation features embodied meditation & movement sessions led by Black, Indigenous, People of Color + Queer guides from multiple wisdom traditions and healing practices. It takes 28 days to change a habit, so imagine if we took 28 days to focus on our liberation. Liberation not only as a single entity, but as a global, collective consciousness. Black liberation is your liberation, and your liberation is Black liberation. 

This interdisciplinary course uses somatic practices to engage with the historical context and legacy of public rituals of extreme violence against Black people as both sites of anti-Black state, and non-state sanctioned disciplinary projects, as well as time-spaces of radical resistance. At the center of these forms of violence are the control of breath as life force, and as a sign of freedom. We discuss the past, present, and future all occurring in the now as we examine the murder of George Floyd in May 2020 as an officer pressed his knee against Floyd's neck for nearly eight minutes as Floyd repeatedly lamented that he could not breathe.

We explore theories of ritual and performance to understand how artists and communities come together as collectives to contextualize and re-present impossible terrors. Artists and grassroots organizers use aesthetics and collective action to transform the horror of being subject to violence at any moment into rituals of breath and potential social transformation. This course then teaches students theories of ritual and performance as ways that communities have historically engaged and confronted histories of anti-Black violence in order to conceive of new future possibilities to embody liberation in the face of disciplinary actions meant to contain and choke Black people. It is my intent for us to become guides to bring social activists into the classroom and the pedagogy out into the streets.