Melissa Britt, clinical professor at Arizona State University, has been selected as a Melvin Hill Visiting Professor this semester. As such, she will present “Urban Dance for Social Change,” a series of discussions, seminars and class presentations, from March 2 through March 5.
Her visit is made possible through funding from the Provost’s Office. Her residency, which includes visits to the Dance Department and Theater and Social Justice Studies Programs, culminates with “Urban Dance Workshop: House and Poppin’ Fundamentals,” on Wednesday, March 5 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. The workshop is free and open to the HWS and Geneva communities and takes place in the Winn-Seeley Dance Studio.
Britt is an educator, socially engaged practitioner, choreographer and performer. At Arizona State University, she specializes in urban movement theories and practice and has been developing the urban curriculum and community engagement projects such as URBAN SOL, and “Come As You Are” Ball, inter-disciplinary collaborations between the Schools of Film, Dance, Theatre, Music and the School of Social Transformation. Her scholarship investigates dance pedagogy, improvisation and phenomenology using feminist theory. Other research topics and pedagogical approaches include community engagement, placemaking, and social justice in performance.
She also performs and choreographs for EPIK Dance Co., a street fusion dance company. With EPIK, she has assisted with multiple full-length performances, teaching residencies, and building community partnership curriculums. Additionally, she trains and competes on a local, national and international level in multiple urban dance styles.
She will arrive on campus on Sunday, March 2, when she will speak to senior dance majors in the DAN 460 “Senior Seminar” about social activism through dance, community outreach, progressive dance curricula, MFA programs, and careers in dance.
On Monday, March 3, modern dance students will be exposed to urban dance techniques – hip-hop, break dance, waacking, and house – and contemplate the placement of this training in college dance curricula. Additionally, students in DAN 955, the second-level global dance course, will be able to apply what is learned from Britt to their studies of other global forms this semester.
During a social justice class visit to SJSP 101, “Community-Based Research,” on Tuesday, Britt will address and demonstrate embodied social justice issues surrounding race, gender, class, and sexuality, which are explored in the music and movement of urban dance practices and within service learning courses and community outreach programs.
She will then share her collaborative work on a hip-hop theater piece with Professor Rickerby Hinds of UC Riverside (spring 2014) with students in THTR 423 “Theater for Social Change” on Wednesday.
The urban dance workshop on Wednesday evening consists of a unique blend of movement exploring the foundations of House dance and Poppin’ while finding freedom of expression through rhythmic sequences and improvisation. The class includes choreographed combinations, movement exploration and an open freestyle component. Emphasis is on learning technique and dance steps, understanding the culture, and an introduction to floor movement. Driven by infectious dance/lounge/funk rhythms, this class is aerobic, challenging and fun.
Named for Melvin Hill, a greatly respected English Professor at the Colleges, the Visiting Professorship was started in 1973 to foster the exchange of ideas on campus with scholars and teachers from other institutions. The initial purpose was to expose students and faculty members to a variety of viewpoints within the humanities; to share research, methodologies, and ideas across the campus; and to interact with recognized scholars in the field.
This semester, the endowment will support seven week-long visiting professors in various disciplines in the humanities. While on campus, they will visit and interact with students and faculty in different departments and give a campus talk or presentation to the community.
“Our hopes are that these will be engaging opportunities for the campus to interact with important thinkers and scholars in their respective fields and that the visiting professors will build real connections with our students, faculty, and campus,” explains Associate Dean of Faculty DeWayne Lucas.
Wednesday’s class requires no registration for individual participants. Questions can be directed to Professor of Dance Donna Davenport: firstname.lastname@example.org.