ResearchUNC Charlotte

Charlotte Dance Professor Giving Back To Bridge A Gap

Tamara Williams approaches research with the fluidity of the tidal rivers in South Carolina’s Lowcountry, where she studies the diasporic dances of her ancestors. History, movement and meaning flow into her and out of her in a process that swirls the academic and the vernacular like streams of saltwater into fresh. 

The Mint Museum is one of numerous local venues where Williams, an associate professor of dance, goes to both teach and learn from the communities around her. There and in other spaces, such as the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Art+Culture, Aldersgate Retirement Community and Camino Community Center, Williams brings professional artists and University students to perform, teach and talk about the dances of the African diaspora. Among her areas of focus are Ring Shout, descended from enslaved Americans in the southeastern United States, and the many African-Brazilian dance forms she has learned in more than a dozen years of studies in Brazil.

“The research comes from Black communities that usually have been marginalized but are rich in culture,” said Williams, who grew up in Georgia. “It’s a way of giving back and to bridge the gap between academia and communities where we come from.” 

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