Rakia Seaborn

Undergraduate Discipline


BA, Oberlin College. MFA, Sarah Lawrence College. Seaborn, a native of Detroit, is a writer, choreographer, educator, and performer whose work has appeared at JACK, Dixon Place, La Mama E.T.C., The Tank, AUNTS, chashama, and Brooklyn Studios for Dance. She has worked with Kathy Westwater, Dianne McIntyre, Rashaun Mitchell, Jodi Melnick, and Meta-Phys Ed. Seaborn teaches Movement for Trinity College's Experimental Performing Arts Program at La Mama, E. T. C. She is a 2018 Mertz Gilmore Late Stage Creative Stipend recipient. Her latest work, A RUIN, had its world premiere at JACK in May 2022. SLC, 2023–

Previous Courses


Moving the Movement: A Study of American Dance History Through A Political Lens


All dance is political, simply because it is created by a human being who is of a particular place and time. Thus, the work is inherently commenting on that particular place and time. Using this framework, we will take a deep dive into American dance history from Reconstruction to today with an eye on tackling the questions: 1) How did this thing we refer to as American dance come to be? 2) Who or what is missing from the canon, and why? 3) How do we place ourselves inside of this lineage? We will examine a combination of video and live performance, newspaper archives, historical pop culture, and scholarly and philosophical writings that range from aesthetics to African diaspora principles, as well as feminist, queer, Black, Latinx, Indigenous, AAPI, and disability theory, in order to create a timeline of American movement from the 19th century to the 21st century: 1860–2023, African-American social dance from Reconstruction through your Tik-Tok feed; 1890–1930s, the mothers of American modern dance; 1920–1940s, power to the people—the democratization of concert dance and the WPA; 1940–1960s, the “no” generation: on Judson and the emergence of post-modern dance; 1960s–1990s, the return to “I”—on coming home to the self; 2000s–2010s, hit me baby one more time—the maximilism of the millenium; and 2010s–2024: say their name—the urgency of the now. With a keen understanding of the state of the world at the point of creation, students will develop a critical eye through which to view performance: Moving beyond an aesthetic understanding of choreographic forms, how were these choreographic forms influenced by the political and social norms of the day? Further, students will begin to develop an understanding of how contemporary American dance is in constant conversation with dance of the past, sharpening their skill sets by capturing reflections in a weekly journal entry. Additionally, students will create a dance family tree, using their artistic interest as the groundwork to trace their own movement lineage across time. Simply, how did you come to dance the way that you do? Students will also be expected to attend two performances over the course of the semester, one contemporary and one historical work. This course should be pretty light in terms of weekly homework; weekly journaling should take about a half-hour. I anticipate framing that journaling in respect to students’ thinking about their own artistic interests so that they are developing source material to create their dance family tree over the course of the semester. The performances and the family tree project will be the most time-consuming. We could also dedicate some class time to peer-to-peer workshopping of that project in order to ease the homework load.