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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.

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