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John O. Perpener III is a dance historian and independent scholar based in Washington, D.C. He received a Ph.D. in Performance Studies from New York University and a MFA in Dance from Southern Methodist University. He has held teaching positions at Florida State University, the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, the University of Maryland, College Park, and at Howard University.
His book, African-American Concert Dance: The Harlem Renaissance and Beyond, was published by the University of Illinois Press in 2001. He also served as a primary consultant and commentator for the PBS documentary on African-American dance, Free to Dance. As a dancer and choreographer, he worked with the Hartford Ballet Company, the D.C. Black Repertory Dance Company, and the Maryland Dance Theater. More recently, he performed in Visible, co-choreographed by Nora Chipaumire and Jawole Willa Jo Zollar. Gia Kourlas of the New York Times wrote, “Oddly, it’s Mr. Perpener, a dance historian, who anchors ‘Visible’ with the gravity it deserves and the lightness it needs. That he understands dance is more than evident in his scholarship; the surprise here is how he knows how to own a stage.” He received a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship (2012-2013) for his project on African-American concert dancers and the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s and 1970s. And, in 2014-2015, he was a Fellow at New York’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.