The Samuel D. Proctor Institute for Leadership, Equity, and Justice | GSE | Rutgers

The Therapeutic Benefits of African Diaspora Dance for College Students

The purpose of this event is to discuss the therapeutic benefits of African Diaspora dance participation. The event will include a panel of notable academics, artists, and community practitioners who will highlight the work of community dance organizations such as Urban Movement Arts and Great on Skates that provide alternative modes of therapeutic relief for college students. Panelists will also discuss the barriers to further integration into collegiate curricula, advocacy for dance practice, and how this dance can support more college students at an unprecedented time affected by a global pandemic and as institutions experience finite resources and dwindling college budgets. 

The event took place on Monday, March 22, 2021, at 12 PM EST.

Moderated by Kemuel Benyehudah, Visiting Scholar, Samuel DeWitt Proctor Institute for Leadership, Equity, and Justice, Rutgers University. 

Panelists include: 

  • India "Ingine" Bernandino, Founder and Owner, Great on Skates
  • Thomas F. Defrantz, Professor, Duke University 
  • Crystal Frazier, Professor, Point Park University
  • Vince Johnson, Founder, Urban Movement Arts 
  • Beverly Pittman, President and CEO, We Shall Be Moved

Download the flyer here.

Read the accompanying essay here.

You can find the event recording here.

India “Ingine” Bernardino, Founder and Owner, Great on Skates

India “Ingine” Bernardino is New Jersey Native. She comes from a strong background of Hip-Hop dance and theatre. India’s dream is to incorporate her love for skating and dance on wheels for the world to see. This passion for both dance and skating can be found in her smile.  This bubbly lady operates both “Really Philly” and “Great on Skates” as her Creative Passion and outlet for artists to become performers. Ingine gives many thanks to her dad Master Jay for showing her the art of skating and performance.

 Born and raised in New Jersey, currently residing in Philadelphia.  India has been a dancer from the heart all her life. She's trained with acclaimed all-around dancers such as Marcus Tucker and Andrew Ramsey Founder of Face Da Phlave Dance Education and Theatre, and Clyde Evans Jr. founder of Chosen Dance Company. As a seasoned performer, choreographer, and instructor India has extensive knowledge in the foundation of all five styles of Hip Hop as well as its dance terminology. India's high-intensity energy level and down-to-earth personality inspire her many students to learn more. Her variety of love for dance allows her to respect not only Hip Hop but all styles of dance culture and its art. India currently owns Really Philly Collective, a community-based organization focusing on many aspects of art. India would like to thank Marcus, Andrew, and Clyde for sharing their experience that inspires her to go after her dreams.

Thomas F. Defrantz, Professor, Duke University

Thomas F. Defrantz is Chair of African and African American Studies and Professor of Dance, and Theater Studies at Duke University. He is past-president of the Society of Dance History Scholars, an international organization that advances the field of dance studies through research, publication, performance, and outreach to audiences across the arts, humanities, and social sciences. He is also the director of SLIPPAGE: Performance, Culture, Technology, a research group that explores emerging technology in live performance applications. He convenes the working group Black Performance Theory and the Collegium for African Diaspora Dance. His books include the edited volume Dancing Many Drums: Excavations in African American Dance (2002) and Dancing Revelations: Alvin Ailey’s Embodiment of African American Culture (2004) and Black Performance Theory co-edited with Anita Gonzalez. A director and writer, his creative works include CANE: A Responsive Environment Dancework that premiered at Duke in April, 2013.

 Crystal Frazier, Professor, Point Park University

Crystal Frazier is a native of New Jersey and holds an Associate Degree in Dance from The University of the Arts and a Master of Fine Arts degree in Choreography from Jacksonville University. She is a freelance choreographer and currently an Assistant Professor of Dance at Point Park University.

Crystal is a former senior member of the world-renowned, Rennie Harris Puremovement.  She has performed and taught nationally and internationally, including in the Middle East and Central Asia as a U.S. Cultural Ambassador with RHPM. She is also the former Co-Founder of “Montazh,” an all-female Hip Hop dance company based in Philadelphia. 

Crystal’s industry performance credits are VH-1 Fashion Awards, BET Comicview, BET Awards, Italy Tour with Kathy Sledge, and many more. She was the featured dancer and choreographer for Grammy Award-winning artist, Jill Scott’s “Big Beautiful Tour.” In film, she made an appearance in the movie Beloved and the TV show, Monk. She was a part of Dance International Workshop Program teaching fundamentals of Hip Hop dance in Nagoya, Osaka, Fukuoka and, Tokyo.  Crystal’s choreography has been featured nationally and internationally for Rennie Harris RHAW, Cruzan Dance, St. Croix, University of the Arts in Taiwan, Encore Danses En Tourneau in Canada, Hip Hop Extravaganza in Bermuda, Philadelphia 76ers Dance Team, Borealis Dance, and many more. 

Vince Johnson, Founder, Urban Movement Arts

Vince Johnson is a Philadelphia-based artist and educator. Since his formative years, hip hop dance and martial arts have been his primary disciplines of practice. In adulthood, he has studied physical theater, clown, guitar, and percussion. Collaboration with visual artists and musicians is a staple in his work and thereby a continuing source of education. He is an alumnus of Rennie Harris Puremovement and has worked in various artist sectors, ranging from popular entertainment to experimental theater. Johnson’s artistic work represents a similar range. For over a decade, he has made performances and events for families and young audiences, while also producing work designed for specific sub-cultures/communities, academia, and various contemporary art platforms. He is the founder and director of Movemakers Philly and Urban Movement Arts, teaching kids and adults, respectively, hip hop dance styles, North American and Hispanic dance folklore, movement culture, tai chi, and yoga. Both organizations function as community resource centers for performing artists and dance practitioners from a variety of communities. Johnson’s performance group, Philly Kerplop, is a professional dance and music ensemble that performs original material with the philosophy that the performing arts best serve audiences when content maintains a precise confluence between entertainment and intellectual stimulation, fantasy and reality.

Beverly D. Pittman, President and CEO, We Shall Be Moved

Beverly D. Pittman, a former college professor, walked away from academia in 2018 to continue her journey toward creating movement-based health and wellness programming for Black women in a more conducive environment. The COVID19 pandemic added urgency to her quest and, at the end of 2020, she founded “We Shall Be Moved." The name is a take on the old Resistance Movement anthem “We shall not be moved”, and the program is based on Beverly’s doctoral research. She received her Ph.D. in Kinesiology from Temple University and titled her dissertation “Afrocentric Kinesiology” to express the relationship of culture to movement and health. 

Prior to her doctoral experiences, Beverly received an MBA with a double major in Management and Marketing from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and an MSS in Social Policy and Program Development from the Bryn Mawr College Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research. She is a proud HBCU alum and graduated valedictorian and summa cum laude with a B.A. in Sociology from Lincoln University (PA). 

Throughout her life, Beverly has enjoyed a variety of non-competitive movement activities including fitness training, cheerleading, tap dancing, and, more recently, hip hop dancing. When she is not moving, she is an avid reader with varied interests including biographies, 19th Century American History, and the study of astrophysics – which explains her love for television shows such as Star Trek, Quantum Leap, and The Big Bang Theory.