Institute for Advanced Study and Northrop Present

The Black History of Jazz

Spotlight Series
Past event
Sep 28, 2023
Colorful illustration of jazz instruments and a musician

It is impossible to see jazz without acknowledging its African roots, evolving over centuries as musicians and dancers alike used the form as an outlet for the expression of Black identity, culture, language, struggle, and joy. This conversation among Ayodele Casel, hailed as a “tap dancer and choreographer of extraordinary depth” (The New York Times), Elliott Powell, and Michael Gallope (both scholars of music and sound) explores the rich history of jazz and tap and how these rhythms came to be heard all over the world today.

Ayodele Casel: critically-acclaimed tap dancer and choreographer
Michael Gallope: musician and scholar of critical theory, philosophy, and sound
Elliott Powell: scholar of U.S. popular music, race, sexuality, and politics

Moderated by Kristen Brogdon: Director of Artistic & Community Programs, Northrop

About the Presenters

Ayodele Casel, a Doris Duke Artist in the dance category, is a critically-acclaimed tap dancer and choreographer. Born in The Bronx and raised in Puerto Rico, her practice centers highly narrative works rooted in expressions of selfhood, culture, and legacy. Her projects include the Bessie Award-winning film Chasing Magic and the theatrical and film series Diary of a Tap Dancer. Casel has performed at The White House, Carnegie Hall, Radio City Music Hall, Madison Square Garden, and elsewhere. Her works have been presented at The Joyce Theater, Lincoln Center, among others. Casel was a 2019-2020 fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, an artist-in-residence at Harvard University and Little Island, and has been a dance educator for over twenty-five years.

Michael Gallope is associate professor in the Department of Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature at the University of Minnesota, as well as affiliate faculty in the Department of American Studies and the program in Moving Image Studies. He is the author of two books, Deep Refrains: Music, Philosophy, and the Ineffable (University of Chicago Press, 2017) and The Musician as Philosopher: The Vernacular Avant-Garde 1958-78 (University of Chicago Press, forthcoming 2024). As a practicing musician he has worked in a variety of genres that span a range of experimental music, rock, and electronic dance music and plays with the minimal-ambient band IE.

Elliott Powell is Beverly and Richard Fink Professor in Liberal Arts, Associate Professor of American Studies and Asian American Studies, and affiliate faculty in the Department of African-American and African Studies and the Department of Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies at the University of Minnesota. He is the author of Sounds from the Other Side: Afro-South Asian Collaborations in Black Popular Music (University of Minnesota Press, 2020), and at work on two projects, tentatively titled Prince, Porn, and Public Sex, which explores the politics of sex(uality) and music in Minneapolis during the 1980s, and Illegitimate Sounds, which explores the queer potentiality of recordings like demos that do not conform to commercial audio legibility.

Kristen Brogdon is Director of Artistic and Community Programs for Northrop at the University of Minnesota. She curates Northrop’s Dance, Music, and Film Series and leads the organization’s artistic vision and planning. From 2015–2019 she directed the Office of the Arts at UNC Wilmington where she founded the Lumina Festival of the Arts. Prior to her time at UNCW, Ms. Brogdon spent almost eight years at Hubbard Street Dance Chicago as Artistic Administrator and General Manager, and nine years managing dance programs at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. She lives in the Twin Cities with her family, and she knows that art and artists have the power to change the world.

Know Before You Go

Event Information

  • In-person Seating: General Admission
  • Doors: 2:30 pm
  • Event Begins: 3:30 pm CT
  • Online Access: You will receive an automatic email reminder one day and one hour prior to the event including the Zoom link and instructions for those who wish to attend in person.
  • Accessibility: All Spotlight Series events are professionally captioned and are available either online or in person at the Best Buy Theater at Northrop. Some accommodation requests may take us time to arrange, so please make requests for this event by Tue, Sep 12, 2023. If you are registering after this date, please reach out to us so we can explore available options. Questions/requests, contact Abby Travis,

Part of the 2023-24 Spotlight Series

2023-24 Spotlight Series: Moving Through Injustice