University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee

Dance BFA -
Performance & Choreography -
Africa & the Diaspora Track

Continuing in the tradition of the UWM Department of Dance, the African Diaspora Track promises a new opportunity for undergraduate students to experience and specialize in a diverse curriculum. With training in the African Diaspora technique forms plus cross-training in ballet and modern, students complete a rigorous technical and creative curriculum while exploring the traditions of the African continent's body/mind language. 

The infamous Middle Passage—trafficking of Africans to the New World—is one of the largest forced cultural migrations in human history. Ancient traditions and genres intermingled with surrounding European, indigenous New World and traditional African cultures; a unique cultural stew directly resulted from this historic migration. 

African Dance is Global

The continent of Africa has thousands of traditional dance and musical forms. The African Diaspora includes all Middle Passage destinations: Central and South America, the Caribbean and the United States. In addition to traditional dance forms from within the continent of Africa, New World forms such as samba, capoeira, dances of the Orixas, jonkanoo, carnival, dances of Haiti (ibo, yenvalou), ring shout, jitterbug, merenge, salsa and a host of others will be experienced through opportunities to study with master teachers.

In an ever-changing global society, dancers, performers and teachers need to be fluent in a universal movement aesthetic. Dancers graduating from this program will be in high demand, as they will embody a diverse and worldly view on the human body/language as performers, choreographers and teachers. 

Guest artists and choreographers
Supporting the track is a built-in comprehensive array of national and international professional dancers and choreographers, who spend 3-5 days of intense residency activity representing the African Diaspora. Since its creation in 2010, the Africa and Diaspora Track has received nationally and internationally known choreographers and teachers such as: Assane Konte/Ballet Kankouran, Amaniyea Payne/Muntu Dance Theater, Youssouf Koumbassa, A’Keitha Carey, and Raphael Xavier.

Abbreviated Curriculum

Dance Technique Coursework: 6 semesters African Diaspora forms, Tap, Jazz, Ballet, 2 semesters of Modern, 2 semesters of Somatics and Conditioning 

Dance Creative Coursework: 6 semesters of Composition and Improvisation, Music Theory, African Percussion, Portfolio Preparation, Repertoire & Ensemble, Senior Project 

Dance Academic Coursework: 3 semesters of World/Contemporary/African Dance History, Laban Movement Analysis, Applied Anatomy, Dance Production and Practicum, Elementary or Secondary Dance Pedagogy, 2 semesters of African Dance Theory 

About Ferne Caulker-Bronson 

ferne_bronsonA native of Sierra Leone, West Africa, Ferne Yangyeitie Caulker-Bronson has studied with numerous master teachers in African and Caribbean dance and music, including Kath- erine Dunham, Lavinia Williams, Chief Bey and Pearl Primus. She has been teaching at UWM since 1971, where she created the University's courses on African dance and history. Additionally, she is the Founder and Artistic Executive Director of Milwaukee's internationally renowned Ko-Thi Dance Company. Since 1969, the company has performed in Japan, Canada and throughout the United States, including New York's Lincoln Center Out of Doors summer concert series and multiple appearances at Brooklyn Academy's Dance Africa series. In 1994, she was named a Fulbright Scholar, and traveled to the continent of Africa in 1995 for a three-month research sabbatical in Tanzania, East Africa. Ferne's current research is sending her to London, Ghana, and the Gullah in South Carolina.  

About the Department of Dance 

The Department of Dance at UWM is committed to the development and training of skillful and creatively vibrant dance artists. Through its diverse faculty, curriculum and students, the department offers undergraduate and graduate dancers a learning environment that emphasizes creative artistic individuality and the development of professional skills.  

For More Information 

(414) 229-2571