Living is Resisting: An Autoethnography and Oral History of Street Dance Activism in Los Angeles
- Author(s): Bell, Shamell Andria Janette
- Advisor(s): Roberts, Allen F
- Sellars, Peter M
- et al.
This doctoral project is a hybrid of written text, transcript, and film. Each genre reveals different
aspects of the transformative processes that can turn “choreographies of the oppressed” into
“choreographies of the liberated.” With direct immersion in contemporary street dance forms from South
Central Los Angeles, this work offers an autoethnographic overview of how I developed concepts and
practices from my own experiences as a dancer, choreographer, and community organizer. It also
provides glimpses of dance in particular social-justice performance events, recovering pathologizing
narratives of “gangs” while permitting people in South Central to speak for themselves about their use of
street dance and social media as tools to contest detrimental forces in their community and the dominant
paradigms shaping their identities. The purpose of the film is to provide visual material and first-hand
accounts that weave through, and are inspired by, the written portion of the dissertation.