A grant from the National Endowment for the Arts will support the Five College Dance Department (FCDD) in its continuing efforts to address racial diversity and inclusion in dance teaching and programming.
The $10,000 Art Works program award will support a restaging of New Second Line by award-winning contemporary African American choreographer and artistic director Camille A. Brown. FCDD chair and Smith dance professor Rodger Blum will be spearheading the project, which will include performances at multiple campuses by two casts of dancers during the 2018–19 academic year. In addition, Camille Brown will lead a master class for Five College and high school dancers from the region, and she will give a public lecture and demonstration titled “The History of African American Social Dance” based on her TED talk.
New Second Line is a performance celebrating the spirit of the people of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The “first line” is a traditional brass band parade for weddings, social events and funerals in New Orleans. Those who follow the parade enjoying the music and dancing with high energy are known as the “second line.”
Brown’s artistic work sits at the intersection of Black female identity, contemporary dance, and African American social dance forms. This is the third NEA award the FCDD has received, and with this project in particular the department hopes to spark conversations across the campuses about the role dance can play in racial equity and inclusion.