Professor Perspectives: Chris Johnson

Ethnic studies, the interdisciplinary study of American ethnic groups, could greatly enhance the dance curriculum and would be of interest to the students and faculty in dance at Beloit.  The study of creative expression of American ethnic groups via an ethnic studies program would most certainly bring a great deal of insight about how ethnic identity manifests itself artistically and how artistic expression reflects and enriches particular cultural perspectives and experiences. There are many dance forms that have their roots in specific American ethnic groups and, sadly, many of these have frequently been left out of the academic canon. This includes the conventional forms of dance, but it goes well beyond. There is value  in studying not only traditional artistic practices, but also the vernacular and ritual.  Likewise, a greater understanding of cultural diversity would expand our definitions of dance artistry.  Additionally, an ethnic studies program would provide a unique opportunity to study the arts and ethnicities in an interdisciplinary way that would allow for creative and scholarly work, questioning social practice as well as providing potential for social action through artistic expression.

Chris Johnson
Associate Professor of Theatre Arts



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