Sarah Lawrence Dance Program Explores Implicit Bias, Power Structures in Dance History

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Dance Spirit magazine recently highlighted four colleges committed to diversifying their dance curriculums and had the opportunity to speak with John Jasperse, director of Sarah Lawrence's dance program and a noted NYC-based choreographer, about the actions the program and College are taking to explore implicit bias and power structures in the history of dance.

We must "reckon with our history to reveal connections that have often been obscured in the past in order to begin to heal ourselves as a society," Jasperse told the magazine. "In the past, the United States has euphemistically been referred to as a cultural 'melting pot,' but to do so is to erase the differential power structures that were historically at play in creating our hybridity."

This coming semester, Sarah Lawrence's dance history course will be called Hip Hop: Dancing Diaspora from the Local to the Global, examining other forms of street dance, including voguing and house. The College will also offer a course about using dance as a lens for cultural critique.

But explorations of implicit bias go beyond dance history courses, too, Jasperse says: "The analytic seminars all support a historical and theoretical understanding that is in dialogue with what we do in practice-based studio classes." Those classes range from West African dance to hula to hip hop to Butoh.

About Sarah Lawrence College

Founded in 1926, Sarah Lawrence is a prestigious, coeducational liberal arts college that consistently ranks among the leading liberal arts colleges in the country. Sarah Lawrence is known for its pioneering approach to education, rich history of impassioned intellectual and civic engagement, and vibrant, successful alumni. In close proximity to the unparalleled offerings of New York City, the historic campus is home to an intellectually curious and diverse community.