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DeFrantz Wins 2020 Selma Jeanne Cohen Prize in Dance Aesthetics

Tuesday, July 14, 2020  
Posted by: Julie Van Camp
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  The American Society for Aesthetics is pleased to announce the winner of the 2020 Selma Jeanne Cohen Prize in Dance Aesthetics: Thomas F. DeFrantz, "What Is Black Dance? What Can It Do?" in Thinking Through Theatre and Performance, edited by Maaike Bleeker, Adrian Kear, Joe Kelleher, Heike Roms (Methuen Drama, 2019).

Dr. DeFrantz is a member of the faculty of Duke University as Professor of African and African American Studies, Professor of  Dance, and a member of the Core Graduate Faculty in Computational Media, Arts & Cultures. He received his PhD from New York University in 1997. For more information on his many accomplishments: https://danceprogram.duke.edu/faculty-profile/thomas-f-defrantz

The review committee of three senior ASA members specializing in dance said this about the winning essay, selected from sixteen nominations:

This is a timely critical interrogation of the category of Black Dance, exploring the historical formation, social significance and aesthetic features of relevant practices. DeFrantz offers a nuanced, original and accessible treatment of complex issues, grounded in deep knowledge of, and reflection upon, dance practice. His essay provides a touchstone for future scholarship on Black Dance. 

The prize was established in 2008 in memory of Selma Jeanne Cohen, and with enormous gratitude for her generous bequest to the ASA. The $1000 prize is awarded every year, for critical articles or books of distinction in dance aesthetics, dance theory, or the history of dance published in English. 

In 2020, the Prize is being awarded for an outstanding article published from May 1, 2018 - April 30, 2020. In 2021, the Prize will be awarded for an outstanding book published from May 1, 2019 - April 30, 2021. For more information about the prize: https://aesthetics-online.org/page/CohenPrize

Previous winners of the Prize:

  • Halifu Osumare (2019): Dancing in Blackness: A Memoir (University Press of Florida, 2018).
  • Anna Pakes (2018): "Reenactment, Dance Identity, and Historical Fictions," in The Oxford Handbook of Dance and Reenactment, edited by Mark Franko (Oxford, 2017)
  • Anthea Kraut (2017): Choreographing Copyright: Race, Gender, and Intellectual Property Rights in American Dance (Oxford, 2016)
  • Chantal Frankenbach (2016): "Dancing the Redemption of French Literature: Rivière, Mallarmé, and Le Sacre du Printemps," Dance Chronicle 38:2 (2015), 134-160
  • Ann Cooper Albright (2014): Engaging Bodies: The Politics and Poetics of Corporeality (Wesleyan University Press, 2013)
  • Graham McFee (2012): The Philosophical Aesthetics of Dance: Identity, Performance and Understanding (Dance Books, 2011)
  • Marcia B. Siegel (2010): Mirrors & Scrims: the Life and Afterlife of Ballet (Wesleyan University Press, 2010)
  • Ann Hutchinson Guest (2008): Lifetime Achievement Award
  • Ivor Guest (2008): Lifetime Achievement Award
  • Sally Banes (2008): Lifetime Achievement Award

For more information about the ASA: http://aesthetics-online.org


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