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Leading Through Black Excellence by APSU: Dr. Ayo Walker

 

Austin Peay State University - APSUClarksville, TN – Dr. Ayo Walker is in her first year at Austin Peay State University (APSU). In that short time she has become a leading voice on anti-racism and racial honesty and accountability on campus. In addition, her level of professional work and output has been above and beyond.

Dr. Ayo Walker

Dr. Ayo Walker

In the world of theatre and dance, COVID-19 Coronavirus has been a difficult time to find opportunities for research and performance, but Dr. Walker has created opportunities and continued her stellar academic work.

In her first semester, Dr. Walker has set previous choreography on students, set new choreography on students, is planning on using those students as dance captains at a professional company where her work is being staged, had an article published in the Journal of Dance Education – the leading educational dance publication in the country (“Traditional White Spaces: Why All Inclusive Representation Matters”) –, served as a manuscript reviewer (“Jazz Dance and African Roots”), and has been commissioned to write two chapters for an upcoming dance textbook (“Milestones in Dance History”).

In addition, Dr. Walker has revamped the way Dance History is being taught at APSU, focusing on traditional dance spaces, their exclusion and “othering” of non-white innovators, and teaching the class in a non-linear format. This has changed the students approach to dance history and taught them important critical thinking skills, allowing them to investigate history through a wider lens and to make their own decisions based on research.

Since her arrival, Dr. Walker has modeled what it means to seek equity and inclusion. She understands and practices the need for her new generative pedagogical praxis that she calls “Entercultural Engaged Pedagogy,” which specifically involves a theoretical discourse in dance via the study of “othered” and marginalized dance histories. Acting as historical intervention in dance studies, she seeks to rectify the cultural racism often repressing higher education dance curricula.

In addition, she has modeled academic excellence to her Intro classes. Arts intro classes are often treated as “easy A’s” by students. However, Dr. Walker has introduced the idea of respect and academic rigor into her “Intro to Dance” class that requires students to treat the subject of dance with respect, academic integrity and honesty.

You can watch some of Dr. Walker’s work in the next few months as the Spring Virtual Faculty Dance Concert will be streaming on the APSU Theatre & Dance Website: theatredance.apsu.edu. You can read her article, “Traditional White Spaces: Why All Inclusive Representation Matters,” at https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/15290824.2020.1795179. Finally, her new work will be presented from May 20th-22nd at the Southern Theatre in Minneapolis, Minnesota. More information is available at https://rhythmicallyspeakingdance.org/the-cohort/.

 


 

We salute you Dr. Walker for your creativity, passion and rigor you bring to the classroom and the Arts.

– APSU African American Employee Council

 

Leading Through Black Excellence is a new Black History Month series, presented by the Austin Peay State University African American Employee Council. Throughout February, we will highlight examples of “Leading Through Black Excellence,” both on and off our campus. Individuals and organizations were nominated, and we are pleased to share their incredible stories through this new venture. For more information, please visit our website. www.apsu.edu/aaec.


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