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Tommy DeFrantz Discusses Kake Walk

Kake Walks and Dance Competitions: Race and Performance in American Popular Culture

Monday, October 4, 2010
7:00 PM – Royall Tyler Theatre

Dr. Thomas DeFrantz

Former Alvin Ailey dancer and MIT Professor of Music, Theater Arts, Comparative Media Studies, and Women’s and Gender Studies Dr. Thomas DeFrantz will situate UVM’s Kake Walk in the broader context of American performance history. His most recent book is titled //Dancing Many Drums: Excavations in African American Dance and Dancing//. His most recent creative works include /Queer Theory! An Academic Travesty/ commissioned by the Theater Offensive of Boston and the Flynn Center for the Arts & “CANE,” an immersive environment dance theater experience that explores black sharecropping after the Civil War. He created historical choreography, including a Juba Dance, for the second iteration of the New York History Workshop’s award-winning exhibition /Slavery in New York/ on display at the New York Historical Foundation since 2007.

Part of the launch announcing Kake Walk at UVM, the newest digital collection from the Center for Digital Initiatives.

UVM’s Kake Walk, a synchronized dance competition during the annual Winter Carnival, featured fraternity brothers in blackface and kinky wigs high-stepping to the tune “Cotton Babes.” The event, abolished in 1969, occupies a controversial position in the university’s institutional memory; it is, for some, a hallowed tradition and for others, overt racism.

To read more about student contributions to the digital collection, see this recent story in UVM Today.

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