Letter from the Editor

“Dancer-Citizen formulates a problematic. It goes beyond the ways communities are formed around activities, where, for example, professionally trained dancers might offer and participate in classes with non-professionals for health as much as for pleasure. It suggests codes of behavior, and therefore, as an artistic discipline it challenges its sibling arts with Actor-Citizen, Artist-Citizen, Musician-Citizen, etc... What are our codes? How are they circumscribed? Are they the same or different?”
— Daniel Rothman

Codes…belief…home…migration…identity.  With thanks to Daniel Rothman, above, and Lela Aisha Jones, below, the call for this issue of The Dancer-Citizen asked how we understand obligation:  where it is rooted, how it develops, and how it manifests.  Our contributors responded with deeply personal statements of belief, of longing/belonging, of embodied memory, of fear, of hope, of faith that our scholarship, practice and lives instigate understanding and change.  We invite you, now, to experience their work:           

  • “Moving freely is the activation of dreamlike states that create belonging – focused, restrained, balanced duties of the heart.” Charles Macdonald
  • “I still don’t feel safe, especially in the present political environment of America, where all difference is persecuted.” Anthony Shay
  • “I inherited…” Janis Brenner 
  • "The brief moment before her hands reach downward to brace her fall, the dancer is caught in exhilaration." Rosie Trump
  • “…choreographic choice-making and composition support an understanding of virtuosity that requires recognition of the performer as a relatable human being.” Bryn Cohn
  • “…how [do] we confront these differences, navigate and maintain the richness of our multiple cultures, and contribute as individuals.” Christina Castro-Tauser
  • “Individualism is concerned, as it would seem, with the self, and the desire for individual success. It places the wants and needs of the individual over the collective success.” Leslie Bush
  • “In attempting to address what is effectively a communal experience of trauma following the regressive violence of the forty-fifth United States presidency, communal slow walking offers us a way to be out of step with the temporality of that national trauma, but out of step together.” Jeannine Murray-Román
  • “Why is Ring Shout significant?  It holds the memories of those that came before us…It's the shuffle of feet, singing of arms, shoulders pulsing, that I see in my grandmothers and mothers today.  Ring Shout is blood memory. It simultaneously finds itself in the children of our mothers today.”  Tamara Williams
  • “It is my hope that artists and audience also find themselves walking in the same direction: to integrate mind/body/spirit and to serve to the community.” Anabella Lenzu
  • “Be bold with your message, ‘cause it’s yours to preach”.  Jessica Tezen
“Where is the beginning of a conversation about the contemporary migrations of diasporic movers (performers, teachers, artists)? I think it is home—a birthplace or a place where most of the rearing of childhood occurred. For many of us home is a location in the world that is a part of a nation. The United States of America or the nationality 'American' requires some black and/or African American women to struggle through their identity as a citizen of the U.S. The journey is not clean and dry and it is not over. It is a continual migration from one identity marker to the next and making decisions sometimes in a swift moment about who you are or will be - and this is also sometimes decided by others for you. This is a constant for those who have committed to a life of engaging with black/African diasporic dances and movement cultures.”
— Lela Aisha Jones

Jane Alexandre, Founding Editor

The Dancer-Citizen

Works Cited

Lela Aisha Jones, "Citizenship-Where do We Begin" in Diasporic Movement Practices: black/African Embodied Translineages and Contemporary Migrations. Unpublished dissertation, 2017.

Daniel Rothman, email message to the author, August 14, 2017