Black Minimalism: Task, Pastiche, and Subterfuge in Choreographies of Routine Violence


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships


Theatre and Dance


This dissertation analyzes subtle reenactments of racial violence in performance with a focus on mundane gestures, objects, and sites in postmodern dance and choreography. This project then offers a definition of Black minimalism, a theory and practice rooted in discretion, that stems from traditions of masked protest on slave plantations. To construct this definition, a list of choreographic strategies used by black postmodern choreographer Ralph Lemon is generated and subsequently deconstructed through an analysis of work by feminist visual artists of color: Ana Mendieta, Alison Saar, and Nicole Miller. The manner in which these artists respectively deploy subterfuge, pastiche, and task-based choreography creates meditative spaces to reconstitute loss. These approaches gain significance as they respond to communities that may not have the privilege to grieve losses that occur in rapid succession.