Choreographing 'joy’: Milton Myers and the life matters of a Black man in dance. An oral history and choreographic analysis

December 2022
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This study centers the New York City-based dance educator and choreographer, Milton Myers’ life as a Black male dancer to examine his choreographic and pedagogical activities, in addition to his mentorship of other dance directors and educators. It is theorized that Myers’ work is underpinned by Black joy, influenced by the significant investments he received from his highly prominent mentors which he carries forward through his work. Furthermore, Black joy is used as a theoretical framework to examine the Myers's teaching, choreography, and mentorship. The research was conducted using an oral history methodology with 21 participants representing a variety of perspectives on Myers’ work. Additionally, documents (mostly newspaper reviews and articles accompany the oral history interviews and a choreographic analysis of Myers’ work with Philadanco. Through the lens of Myers’s work, this study found that the Black artists, particularly at Philadanco, used Black joy as a mechanism to understand themselves and to overcomes life’s oppressive forces. The study argues that Black joy has been an effective conduit for communication through choreography and pedagogy.