Moving Bodies and Social Justice

Ohio Wesleyan Part of Dance Education Initiative with Five Colleges of Ohio

By Cole Hatcher

Rashana Perks Smith

DELAWARE, Ohio – Ohio Wesleyan University is offering a series of online workshops and speakers this spring designed to educate and engage all bodies who want to move within the dance community.

Titled “Moving Bodies and Social Justice,” the free virtual events are being created in collaboration with dance faculty from the Five Colleges of Ohio, which also includes Oberlin College, Kenyan College, Denison University, and The College of Wooster.

Ohio Wesleyan dance instructor Rashana Perks Smith, M.F.A, said the workshops are intended to help students examine the systems in which they study and perform as well as to help them create support systems for themselves as body-conscious dancers.

“I hope those who participate ask more questions about institutional structure and systems and curriculum,” Smith said. “I hope there is more discussion with faculty and administrators as we work to become more inclusive as a discipline. … I also want students to become more confident with their bodies and to connect with others to build networks of support.”

The upcoming “Moving Bodies and Social Justice” events are as follows:

  • 7 p.m. Feb. 18 – Naomi Macalalad Bragin presents “Black Power of Hip Hop Dance: On Kinethic Politics.” Bragin, Ph.D., teaches courses in performance studies, critical race and gender studies, and dance at the School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences at the University of Washington Bothell.
  • 7 p.m. Feb. 25 – mayfield brooks presents “A Discourse for De-Composing Dance and Choreographing Breath.” brooks, M.F.A., is a movement-based performance artist, vocalist, urban farmer, teacher, and writer living in Brooklyn, New York.
  • 7 p.m. March 18 – Sydnie L. Mosley and Sharon Udoh participate in a roundtable discussion on “Body Positivity: Radical Self-Love and Social Transformation.” The conversation will be moderated by OWU instructor Smith. Mosley, M.F.A., is an award-winning artist-activist and educator from Harlem, New York. She produces experiential dance works with her collective, SLMDances. Udoh is s a queer, first-generation Nigerian-American composer, pianist, vocalist, educator, speaker, and cultural critic from Columbus, Ohio. She has served in residence at the Wexner Center for the Arts at The Ohio State University.
  • 7 p.m. April 15 – Thomas F. DeFrantz presents “Making*Queering*Dancing.” DeFrantz, Ph.D., is a professor of African and African American Studies at Duke University, and director of SLIPPAGE: Performance, Culture, Technology, a research group that explores emerging technology in live performance applications.
  • 7 p.m. April 22 – Jaamil Olawale Kosoko presents “The Transgressive Body Workshop.” Kosoko, M.A., is a Nigerian-American poet, curator, and performance artist. In fall 2020, he was appointed as the Alma Hawkins Visiting Chair at the UCLA Department of World Arts and Cultures/Dance. He also lectures regularly at Princeton University.

The “Moving Bodies and Social Justice” events are supported financially by the Ohio Five Collaborative Grants Program. For more detailed descriptions of the events, presenter biographies, and access to each virtual presentation, visit https://sites.google.com/oberlin.edu/moving-bodies-social-justice.


Founded in 1842, Ohio Wesleyan University is one of the nation’s premier liberal arts universities. Located in Delaware, Ohio, the private university offers more undergraduate majors than many universities its size and competes in 24 NCAA Division III varsity sports. Through its signature program, The OWU Connection, Ohio Wesleyan teaches students to integrate knowledge across disciplines, build a diverse and global perspective, and apply knowledge in real-world settings. Ohio Wesleyan is featured in the book “Colleges That Change Lives” and included on the U.S. News & World Report and Princeton Review “best colleges” lists. Learn more at owu.edu.