University of East London’s Centre for Performing Arts Development’s 2014 Lecture Performing The Breaks: African American Aesthetic Structures by Dr. Thomas DeFrantz (Duke University, USA)

Monday, 19 May, 2014

10:00 am– 1pm

USS.3.38 (Studio 2)

University of East London

University Square Stratford

1 Salway Road

London, E15 1NF

Dr. Thomas DeFrantz is one of the leading scholars in the area of African American dance history and studies. Bringing together performance, theatre, and dance research, his publications contribute to the literature on African diaspora aesthetics, and to the understanding of the intersections of dance and technology, and dance historiography.

In this lecture, Thomas DeFrantz discusses the concept and the practice of ‘the break’, as seen for instance in tap dance, or as heard in pop music and jazz.  By discussing a series of examples including Aretha Franklin’s performance of ‘My Country ‘Tis of Thee’, choreographies by Katherine Dunham, and a play by Suzan-Lori Parks, DeFrantz argues that ‘the break’ is a means by which artists may be able to extend the possibilities of theatrical form, turning their performance into a relational, social event.

The Centre for Performing Arts Development is University of East London’s (UEL) newest Research Centre. It brings together academics, practitioners, and research students from Drama, Applied Theatre, Dance, and Music. The event will be hosted by Dr. Luis C. Sotelo (, Senior Lecturer in Drama, Applied Theatre and Performance. Academics from both UEL and Royal Holloway University of London will respond to DeFrantz’s lecture.