Brynn W. Shiovitz, PhD
Moving Bodies; Moving Sound
Brynn Shiovitz received her PhD from the University of California, Los Angeles in Culture and Performance (2016) and is currently a lecturer in Dance at Chapman University. She is the author of The Body, the Dance and the Text: Essays on Performance and the Margins of History (McFarland, 2019), a collection of new essays which explore the many ways in which writing relates to corporeality and how the two work together to create, resist or mark the body of the "Other." Her current monograph-length project Behind the Screen: Tap Dance, Race, and Invisibility During Hollywood's Golden Age (Oxford, 2022) explores a history of audible blackface and more covert forms of racial masquerade in live action film and animation during the 1930s and 1940s. In particular the book explores how tap dance and technology helped to mask racial caricature and ultimately how, in combination, allowed films to sidestep Production Code guidelines. Her writing on dance can also be seen in Dance Chronicle, Women and Performance, Jazz Perspectives, Theatre Survey, and Dance Research Journals, Dance, Dance Spirit, and Dance Teacher Magazines, and a forthcoming Oxford Handbook in Black Dance Studies edited by Thomas DeFrantz. Brynn’s research intersects at the crossroads between dance, theatre, film, and critical race studies. She is primarily interested in the ability of Africanist performance to narrativize diasporic identity by simultaneously attending to fields of vision, aurality, and embodied practice. Her current work asks readers to consider multiple forms of masking at play in twentieth-century American tap dance performances of the stage, screen, and sound cartoon. While her research historicizes tap’s relationship to minstrelsy and other means of masking, her current work in documentary film calls attention to the relevancy of this conversation today. Brynn is the sole creator of The Rhythm Project, a series of documentaries that take up questions regarding the relationship between rhythm, race, and diaspora, as it exists for contemporary tap dancers living in Los Angeles and New York City. Aside from her research, Brynn has danced professionally with the Oakland-based Mills College Repertory Dance Company and the New York-based tap dance company TapOle. Most recently she has performed with Meredith Monk at the Freud Playhouse, the Trisha Brown Dance Company at the Hammer Museum in Westwood, and was in the Los Angeles cast of Jérôme Bel’s Bessie Award Winning show, The Show Must Go On. She has taught movement and theory across the country at schools such as UCLA, Chapman, The American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA), and Brooklyn College. In addition to dance, Brynn is a certified Mat Pilates and Hatha yoga instructor.