As a professor of dance and scholar in African-American aesthetics I teach a course called “The Black Tradition in American Dance”. It examines the use of the African-American dance aesthetic by performers, dancers, choreographers, historians, and dance theorists, from the 19th century through 21st century.

During the first weeks of the course I give a two-hour lecture specifically defining the African-American aesthetic. The video in the lower sidebar is an abbreviated version of the longer lecture. In the video I touch on five key points:

1) The need for scholarship in Black aesthetics. Other scholars working in the field.

2) The operating definition of: Blackness, aesthetics and slippage (for the 18-week course).

3) The African-American aesthetic: Presentation of the aesthetic as a concept that is comprised of elemental parts that are interconnected and interdependent.

4) Delineation of the African-American aesthetic tenets as structure, function, and psychology manifesting in various arts.

5) The uniqueness, prevalence, and commonality of these tenets. Also, how the African-American aesthetic became part of the American aesthetic.

Using the African-American aesthetic, artists in every field created and contributed to the idioms of modern, jazz, ballet, street vernacular and traditional African based dance forms in the United States. The course is fun to teach because it inspires great conversations.