The Yale Dance Lab

The Yale Dance Lab promotes cross-disciplinary research in dance through partnerships with schools and departments across Yale’s campus. The Dance Lab emphasizes studio practice, whether reconstructing older works or experimenting with new ideas, as a unique form of research, revealing an artist’s choreographic vision and historical milieu. The discipline, ritual, and repetition inherent in creative practice forms the Lab’s core knowledge—Dance Lab members deepen their technical strength and artistry, even as they gain insight into some of the most powerful sociopolitical ideas of our time.

Central to the Dance Lab’s activities is its spring semester project, which involves the licensing of seminal choreography and/or commissioning of new work. Additional events range from studio-based workshops and professional intensives to talks, screenings, class visits, and various other experiments, explorations, and collaborations launched throughout the year.

In the spirit of dance advocacy and outreach to the Yale and New Haven communities, we share our work publicly at the end of the spring semester in a final public performance. See below for schedule.

Faculty director: Emily Coates (Director of Dance Studies, Associate Professor in Theater and Performance Studies, Associate Professor in Directing, Yale School of Drama)

Associate producer: Kaitlyn Gilliland (Yale School of Management, MBA ’20)

Coordinators: Madelyn Blaney ’21, Mariel Pettit Physics PhD ‘20

Monday, February 17

Adanna Jones | Assistant Professor of Dance, Bowdoin College 

4:30-6:00pm Paper Workshop | “Taking Time, Making Space: Restaging Afro-Caribbean Womanhood on the Streets of Carnival.” 

Room 215, 35 Broadway - Center for Race, Indigeneity & Transnational Migration

6:00 - 8:00pm Movement Workshop | “Winin’ 101: Embodying Jametteness” - Broadway Rehearsal Lofts, 294 Elm Street, room 303

This workshop will teach participants the bodily logic behind the rolling hip dance known as winin’. Rooted in the Trinidadian Carnival, where the wine is most commonly performed, this workshop will introduce participants to the deep histories of this dance culture, paying particular attention to the late-19th Century jamette figure of Trinidad. Many scholars of the Trinidadian Carnival argue that the bodily logic of the wine is one of the inherited legacies of the jamette figure herself.

Bio: Adanna Kai Jones is an Assistant Professor of Dance in the Department of Theater and Dance at Bowdoin College. She received her Ph.D. in Critical Dance Studies from the University of California, Riverside, and her BFA in Dance from Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University. Her research focuses on Caribbean dance and identity politics within the Diaspora, paying particular focus to Carnival and the rolling hip dance known as winin’. With regards to her creative endeavors, she has choreographed dance-theater pieces based on her research such as Wine & Tales, presented in Port of Spain, Trinidad, by New Waves! 2015 and the Dancing While Black Performance Lab, and Remembering D’Angelo’s Untitled performed at Field Studies 2018 in New York City. Both works were rooted in her ethnographic fieldwork on the wine, Caribbean Carnivals, and the sexualization of Caribbean bodies.

Monday, March 2:

Dasha Chapman | Visiting Assistant Professor of Dance, Davidson College \

4:30 -6:00pm Talk | Grounding Practice: Vodou’s Corporeal Technologies in Haitian Dance Pedagogy 

Room 215, 35 Broadway - Center for Race, Indigeneity & Transnational Migration

6:30-8:00pm Movement Workshop | Approaching Haitian Dance - Broadway Rehearsal Lofts, 294 Elm Street, room 303

Bio: As an interdisciplinary dancer-scholar, Chapman’s research and performance work in critical dance studies moves through a nexus of African diaspora theory, performance studies, ethnography, queer/gender studies, and Caribbean thought. Her teaching mirrors her scholarship as she engages these multiple modes in the classroom and beyond. She teached courses that blur the boundaries between the studio and the seminar room, and in all of her work, dance makes space to explore the relationship between theory and practice.

Her first book centers on the labor of five contemporary Haitian dance artists who work in both Haiti and in the diasporas of New York City and Boston. She examines the ways in which dance, as fostered by these Haitian artists, makes and remakes “Haiti” in ways that are not possible without collective practice, and she traces how the teaching and choreographic practices of these artists foster alternative political imaginations.

As a dance-maker, Chapman works in site-specific collaboration with local artists to excavate, activate, and reimagine suppressed histories. She has facilitated collaborative performance projects in Port-au-Prince and Jeremie, Haiti (with Yonel Charles, Jean-Sebastien Duvilaire, and Ann Mazzocca), as an artist in residence at the Power Plant Gallery in Durham, NC (with Aya Shabu), and in residence at Tulane University’s A Studio in the Woods in New Orleans, LA (with Tè Glise Collective).

Monday, April 6

Maya J. Berry​ | Assistant Professor of African, African American, and Diaspora Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 

5:00-6:00pm Talk | Rumberas on the Move: Lessons in the Choreography of Black Femininities in Havana.” 

Room 215, 35 Broadway - Center for Race, Indigeneity & Transnational Migration

6:30-8:00pm Movement Workshop | Rumbera Improvisation Lab (Broadway Rehearsal Lofts, 294 Elm Street, room 303

Bio | Berry’s current research examines what existing movements toward black self-making in the contemporary “post-Fidel” era can teach us about the Cuban Revolution’s “updating” economic model and visions for its future. Contemporary Cuba is marked by the expansion of the private sector and the amplification of racialized class inequality. Black-identified collectives are responding to these conditions through a range of ideological repertoires, from market pragmatism to religious aesthetics. These movements are challenging modernist, nationalist paradigms of political action, as well as dominant narratives of “socialist” versus “capitalist”. Taken as a whole, Berry’s research explores the sacred and secular dimensions of black political lives in motion within and beyond state institutions.

An adjacent project critically interrogates the embodied aspects of conducting engaged research in post-colonial contexts, theorizing from the specificity of black women’s sexed and raced relationship to these sites of investigation. This work charts a path to re-envision a politically engaged anthropology that is compatible with black feminist teachings, at both stages of ethnography: while working in “the field” (praxis) and while representing that experience (product).