In Conversation

By Andréa Spearman

September 24, 2021, PUBLISHED BY IN DANCE

In Conversation, a series of interviews exploring exchanges about dance and different folks’ relationship to dance.

We are now more than a year into a period of transition and re-framing. Re-framing the idea of work. Re-framing the ideas of academia. Re-framing our home lives. Re-framing our global perspective.

As a local community, we are re-examining what it means to make art and to be an artist. We are seeking to understand beyond our own past perspectives. For some that has meant giving their bodies rest. For others it has meant a deeper investigation of the body and where the source of movement comes from.

In this edition of In Conversation I was able to speak with Latanya D. Tigner and Colette Eloi about the Back to the Root/Dancing Cy(i)phers series and the rich, extensive discourse around the African roots of dance and their place in academia.

We asked ourselves large questions including, Where is the African diaspora dance education in the Bay Area? Who can teach it? Is there space to reshape what it means to learn “ethnic” dances? What opportunities are there for those trained in culturally-specific dance?


Photo courtesy of Artist. [ID: Adult Black woman smiling with her head tilted back and her arms pushing away from her body. She wears a kente-patterned dress that is blue, yellow, gold, and black. Her hair is in a braided crown.]

Latanya D. Tigner performs professionally with Dimensions Dance Theater, lectures at UC Berkeley, and is certified in Talawa Technique™ (Akimbo Level). Latanya has created commissioned works for Dimensions and other local cultural organizations, including Cal Shakes’ critically acclaimed black odyssey, for which she was nominated for a Theater Bay Area Award in 2017. Latanya currently serves as Co-Artistic Director of the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival, is a founding member of Oakland Anti-Racism Organizing Committee, and is the curatorial director of Dancing Cy(i)phers, an annual symposium that connects the coded languages of African rooted dance through ongoing research.







Photo by RJ Muna [ID: Adult, brown-skinned Black woman with large gold beaded hoop earrings and a red sequined head wrap stares off into the distance with a smile on her face. She is also wearing a red halter and a poncho that is decked out in gray, blue, and gold sequins.]


Colette Eloi is a doctoral student currently, ending her coursework in the Critical Dance Studies program at UC Riverside, where she also teaches. She is an accomplished dancer and artistic director/commissioned choreographer, educator, guest lecturer, and researcher. Eloi has taught Dance history, Dance and Cosmology, Dance and Revolution, Haitian dance, jazz, black vernacular, modern (Dunham and Horton techniques), Caribbean, Latin and African dance professionally. Her research findings and dance/music performance experiences of 20+ years have augmented her understanding of African Diaspora dance. She has toured locally, nationally, and internationally performing at major festivals, learning institutions, and culture facilities.



All Audio Recorded and Edited by Andréa Spearman

For more In Conversation content, read and listen here.

This conversation appeared in the Fall 2021 issue of In Dance.

Bay Area native, Andréa Spearman is an administrator, choreographer, performer, teacher, and student of a variety of modern-based movement with over 20 years of experience. Director of her own dance company, A. Spearman & Co. and also currently produces and hosts, The Black Landscape podcast, a series of conversations that spotlight Black leaders in the SF Bay Area communities in various industries. Listen on Apple Music, BuzzSprout, Google Podcasts, and more.