Thomas F. DeFrantz: ‘Not Just Dance’

Four videos show Duke professor combining performance, technology and African American culture

Dancing is not just a fun way to spend Saturday night. It's also a rigorous academic discipline. Thomas F. DeFrantz, a Duke University professor of African and African American studies and dance, is an expert on how African American dances have evolved to reshape our world, reflecting the impact of the Middle Passage and other historical events. He's also blending dance and technology in new ways.DeFrantz works across disciplines with Duke students and colleagues to explore the roots - and future - of our culture. These four videos highlight his work:

Buck, Wing and Jig How did dances on slave plantations develop into the 'Charleston' and the 'Kid n' Play'? DeFrantz demonstrates three traditional African American social dances.

Dance and African American Culture The 'mashed potato' or the 'Dougie' are not just dances. DeFrantz explains how they also provide a window into the social history of African Americans.

Bringing Together A Dancer and an Engineer DeFrantz's students Monica Hogan and Brianca King - one a dancer, the other an engineer - used interactive motion tracking to capture dance movements.

Combining Art and Technology DeFrantz and his students are exploring new art forms that combine dance with computer science, computational design, filmmaking and other perspectives.

Want to learn more about Thomas F. DeFrantz? Read the Duke Today article "All About Rhythm" or his interview with the Social Science Research Institute's magazine, "Gist From the Mill."

Videographer and project design: Archana Gowda Editorial: Camille Jackson Produced by Duke University Office of News & Communications