“I trust the intelligence of the body, which may explain why I’ve focused my quest for social justice through the lens of the dancing body; why dance has been a driving force in my life…”
Brenda Dixon Gottschild’s 50-year career as a writer and cultural scholar surveys the presence and influence of the black dancing body in America, in what she calls “choreography for the page”—an “embodied, subjunctive approach to research writing.” Dixon Gottschild says she sees her role as an artist as “both a participant and observer. I use performance, specifically dance, as a measure of society and barometer of culture.” She has published a wide range of books, essays, and articles, including The Black Dancing Body: A Geography From Coon to Cool (2003), and Waltzing in the Dark: African American Vaudeville and Race Politics in the Swing Era (2000), for which she received the 2001 Congress on Research in Dance Award for Outstanding Scholarly Dance Publication. Her latest book, Joan Myers Brown & the Audacious Hope of the Black Ballerina: A Biohistory of American Performance (2012), was completed with grant support from the Center. Dixon Gottschild began her career as a professional performer in modern dance and experimental theater, and in recent years she has re-entered the field as a performer with a solo work on race. She has presented her scholarly work internationally at the University of Ghana; Metropolitan University, London; and University of Cape Town, South Africa; among others. She holds a PhD in performance studies from New York University and is professor emerita of dance studies at Temple University.