BELOVED AND CHERISHED FIGURE: Considered a cultural icon for her innovative work and contributions to Black art, this is the first posthumous release from a timeless poetic voice. Previous works by Shange have received positive reviews from numerous outlets including The New York Times, Publisher’s Weekly, Essence, and The Washington Post
FEATURES NINE DANCERS & CHOREOGRAPHERS: Shange gifts readers with intimate vignettes of her early beginnings learning from the greats in Harlem, portraits of those who craft eternal movements, and personal interviews with dance greats including Mickey Davidson, Halifu Osumare, and Camille Brown.
A LITERARY EVENT: After over 20 years of research and dedication to capturing Black dance, the legendary author’s work is finally compiled into one unique package that she was still working on prior to her passing.
PERSONAL FOREWORD AND AFTERWORD: Though Ntozake Shange passed before finishing the book, her longtime executive personal assistant and collaborator, Reneé L. Charlow, and the literary advisor to her trust, Alexis Pauline Gumbs, worked to complete the book in Ntozake’s vision with the inclusion of their own meaningful tributes to the late poet to introduce and close the collection.
FOR ASPIRING DANCERS, ARTISTS, STUDENTS, AND MORE: This book features a glossary of dance terms and language for the everyday reader and short readable bios of key figures to create an accessible and welcoming cultural history of Black dance.
“Of interest to those familiar with Shange’s written work, and generally to dancers and dance historians.”
“An elegant and eloquent work by an artist who left us too soon that recognizes and celebrates the unique contributions of Black dancers and choreographers.”
“An absolute ‘must read’ for the legions of Ntozake Shange fans, Dance We Do: A Poet Explores Black Dance is a much appreciated posthumous publication of her work in which a truly revered poet crafts a personal history of Black dance and captures the careers of legendary dancers along with her own rhythmic beginnings. While especially and unreservedly recommended addition to community, college, and university library Black Studies collections in general, and Dance Studies/History collections in particular.”
—Midwest Book Review
“An essential addition to our cultural history and to Ntozake Shange’s legacy as a pioneering creative force.”
“Through Ntozake Shange’s personal memories of dance—what it has meant to her, how she came to know, understand, and feel it—we are taken on a journey that chronicles some of the greatest dancers and choreographers of the latter part of the twentieth century.”
“A gorgeous last offering from one of our most gifted and multifaceted artists. Her passion for dance, just like her passion for words, is among the many reasons she will be missed, though these insightful interviews, ruminations, and reflections will continue to be a balm, across generations, from her to us.rdquo;
—Edwidge Danticat, author of Everything Inside
“A workaholic to her last breath, Ntozake Shange has left us with a book that expands our knowledge of Black dance. Not only is it a textbook but it was composed by someone who created a new form. A true innovator.”
—Ishmael Reed, author of Malcolm and Me
“Ntozake Shange presents a language of movement that only she knew—relearned with clarity and courage, and unveiled to the world as a black American groove of words in commemorative motion.”
—Rebecca Carroll, author of Sugar in the Raw: Voices of Young Black Girls in America and host of the podcast Come Through with Rebecca Carroll
“Ntozake Shange delivered her gifts to us embossed with directions, and permission, to create our own magic and miracle and movement. Dance We Do is her final gift to us, but it is, like she was, a gift that will nourish and replenish us for generations to come.”
—Bassey Ikpi, author of I’m Telling the Truth, but I’m Lying
“In Dance We Do, Ntozake Shange offers the living history of Black dance our current movements need. In these conversations’ exquisite choreography, we witness the artist’s incomparable poetic stretch, her dazzling theoretical reach, and her unparalleled ability to name the deep political necessity of Black bodily knowledge. Here, we see Shange as teacher and theorist, charting the spiral histories of Black dance with the eloquence of a lyrical rond de jambe. Her keen and tender reflections on dance greats such as Dianne McIntyre and Dyane Harvey set the beat for interviews with newer voices like Camille A. Brown and Davalois Fearon, alongside whom we learn from Shange’s great vision and pedagogy. To read Dance We Do is to move with a master. It is to learn not only what Black dance means, why Black bodies matter, but how. Dance We Do makes its meanings elegantly, fearlessly, with the endless precision of Blackness itself: a full vocabulary of bodies and lives, writing rhythms that out-move time.”
—Mecca Jamilah Sullivan, PhD, author of Blue Talk and Love
“Blessed are we to have a new work by the inimitable Ntozake Shange, whose writing is a balm for the soul. Sharing with readers her earliest body memories, Shange takes us into the most intimate spaces of her own fleshy form and, by extension, those of the oft overlooked Black dancers she spotlights. She makes us feel the connections between body and brain, the ache of overworked muscles, the discipline required to make jetés and fouettés appear effortless, as we linger on every word of this taut work of Black brilliance, wanting our eyes to forever dance on its pages.”
—Tanisha C. Ford, author of Dressed in Dreams: A Black Girl’s Love Letter to the Power of Fashion
“Dance We Do holds an eternal flame for the embodied work and life of Ntozake Shange. This new work is our spiritual relevé. It helps us rise to our toes and once again honor Black bodies as beautiful, magical, and elegant. Each chapter is a radical intervention that brings us closer to the Black Radical Tradition of exploring our rhythms. Shange has always known that Black lives matter, and this text is a reminder of her commitment to the nuance of Blackness. While reading I had to stand up, move around, walk, and signify with the text. Thank you, Shange, once again for bringing us home.”
—Jamara Wakefield, writer
“A dancer first, the irrepressible Ntozake Shange writes of her art with passion and humor.”
—Jennifer Dunning, author of Alvin Ailey: A Life in Dance
’A celebration of poetry, mentorship, music, and the Black body in movement and art.”
—Aku Kadogo, chair, Department of Theater and Performance, Spelman College
“Remarkable—provoking—insightful. Ntozake Shange’s Dance We Do is a valuable document for those interested in the foundational elements that make dance what it is today, especially Black dance. A real look-see into a world many people knew about but that has never been explored. A must-read for those interested in identifying and understanding where much of American dance concepts today are derived.”
—Otis Sallid, producer, director, and choreographer
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