I grew up in a family filled with dancers and music lovers--steeped in traditions of jazz and soul. My grandmother, Mary Edmonds performed at the Howard Theater in Washington D.C. and my grandfather (whom I never met) was Harold "Rhythm" King...the skate-tap dancer that Professor Brenda Dixon Gottschild wrote about in her book Waltzing in the Dark (p. 23). My mother, W. Annette Edmonds, was my first dance teacher; she taught me routines and made my outfits.... In Hessish Oldendorf, Germany, I won the talent contest (a check for $25). I was 8 years old. When we moved to Arizona, my parents enrolled me in a performing arts middle school, where I met the woman who would literally save my life: Pam Copley of Utterback Jr. High (pictured right).
I share my birthday with my grandmother, Ms. Copley, and Katherine Dunham, so I felt dancing was always in my stars. At Utterback the DAZE performances were legend. I was put center stage for the two years I was there, my number in All That Jazz the crown jewel of my school career. I lettered in dance at Palo Verde High School, also participating in the Capricians dance group and served as danceline captain for the band. Though I did not pursue a career in dance, the lessons I learned from Ms. Copley--confidence, character, critical thinking, and self-discipline--have stayed with me since childhood. She would always challenge her students, Copley's kids, to "figure it out" and she joked, "dancers don't sweat, they glow!" We glowed a lot. I am grateful for her presence in my life. When I felt lost, afraid, or alone, I always went back to her positive and powerful voice in my head. When I felt defeated, tired, or not up to a challenge, her lessons rang true every time--and I made it through--learning to raise my voice to the back row of the theater, no matter how nervous I've been.
This project is dedicated to my grandmother, my mother, and my dance teacher--all who taught me the love and power of dance.
Stephanie Y. Evans (PhD University of Massachusetts-Amherst) is a Professor of Black Women's Studies and Director of the Institute for Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Georgia State University. Her research interest is Black women's intellectual history, specifically memoirs, mental health, and wellness. At GSU, she is affiliate faculty in the Department of African-American Studies as well as in the Center for the Study of Stress, Trauma and Resilience.
Dr. Evans is author of three books: Black Women's Yoga History: Memoirs of Inner Peace (SUNY, 2021); Black Passports: Travel Memoirs as a Tool for Youth Empowerment (SUNY, 2014) and Black Women in the Ivory Tower, 1850-1954: An Intellectual History (UF, 2007) as well as lead co-editor of four books, Black Women's Public Health (under contract, SUNY), Black Women and Social Justice Education (SUNY, 2019), Black Women's Mental Health: Balancing Strength and Vulnerability (SUNY Press, 2017), African Americans and Community Engagement in Higher Education (SUNY, 2009). She established "Chair at the Table: Black Women Department Chairs" mentoring workshops and a 2021 special issue of Palimpsest journal. She is curator of the Black Women's Studies Booklist, Africana Memoirs Database, and Black Women’s Music Database.
Dr. Evans is editor of the Black Women's Wellness book series at State University of New York Press.
Takiyah Nur Amin (Ph.D., Temple University) is a dance scholar, educator and consultant. Her research focuses on 20th century American concert dance, African diaspora dance performance/aesthetics and pedagogical issues in dance studies. Her research has appeared in several academic journals including The Black Scholar, Dance Chronicle, Dance Research Journal, the Western Journal of Black Studies and the Journal of Pan-African Studies.
Her book chapters have been published or are forthcoming in the edited volumes Jazz Dance: A History of Its Roots and Branches, The Oxford Handbook of Dance and the Popular Screen, Rethinking Dance History and Are You Entertained?: Black Popular Culture in the 21st Century (Duke University Press, 2019.) She is a twice-elected board member of the Congress on Research in Dance (CORD,) co-founder of CORD's Diversity Working Group, a founding member of the Collegium for African Diaspora Dance (CADD) and a host on the New Book Network's Dance Channel. An "interdisciplinary humanist," Dr. Amin teaches courses in dance history, Black aesthetics and the sociocultural role of dance in human society. Takiyah Nur Amin is a proud native of Buffalo, NY and is the eldest daughter of Karima and the late Abdul Jalil Amin.
Saroya Corbett is a certified Dunham Technique instructor and has a Masters in Fine Arts degree in Dance from Temple University. Her dance ability can be attributed to being well trained under professionals like Katherine Dunham, Vanoye Aikens, Glory Van Scott, Tommy Gomez, Ruby Streate, and Kariamu Welsh. Throughout Saroya’s performing career, she has performed with the dance companies, Kariamu & Company and Flyground, and presented her own work through Saroya Corbett Dance Projects.
In 2014, Jazz Dance: A History of the Roots and Branches was released by the University Press of Florida, which included Saroya as a chapter author. She serves as the history and theory chair for the Institute for Dunham Technique Certification and she serves on the steering committee for the Coalition Diasporan Scholars Moving (CDSM).
PhD Candidate, UCLA
MFA Temple University
BA Spelman College
Dr. Rachel Panton is a ghostwriter, editor, and writing coach for women who have powerful stories to tell. Her mission is to create a safe space where women can share their stories and feel supported through each stage of the writing process. Rachel has been a writing professor for over 16 years and is a specialist in women’s cognitive development.
I started my academic career studying women’s narratives as a literature and language major. From there I went on to teach writing at Columbia College Chicago and then at the University of Miami, where my courses are focused on wellness memoir (such as my upcoming course, Sistah Soul Food: Black women, food and power). While teaching I pursued my doctoral degree and felt a need to research and write the life story journeys of women holistic leaders in my community. Each of these women had overcome countless obstacles such as defeating breast cancer, losing a child, raising children as a single mother, and all left one religion, respectively, for a new way of life. Not only did their paths lead them to healing themselves mentally, physically and spiritually, but to healing their communities as well.
After completing my dissertation on these women, a retired dean at a neighboring college asked me to write her story. She was a breast cancer survivor as well and had suffered other illnesses. She never let any of it stop her from accomplishing her goals in life and leading young women in her community through teaching and volunteering. That was the start of my first memoir writing business, Write My Life Memoirs. Soon, more women started to appear who wanted to tell their stories... These women have inspired me and the world around them and this is how Women Writing Wellness was born.
I’m here to help you tell your story. Whether you’re a writer who just needs coaching, accountability or critique, or you need someone to write your story from stem to stern, I’m here for you. For this project, a scholarly text for both an academic and public audience, I can help you develop your voice and also manage the sources, citations, and other technical aspects needed for this particular book.
I'm thrilled to serve as a writing consultant for the authors who want to submit chapters to the Black Women's Dance History book project. As a partner, I am offering a reduced rate for my consultation and editing services for those who are working to ready their manuscript for submission and consideration.