Dr. C. Kemal Nance's research emerges from his interest in the practice of African dance traditions in the United States with a focus on African American men's involvement in their continuance and evolution.
In his recent research, he cowrote an article about the transmission of a gendered African culture through the work of Chuck Davis with dance partner Stafford C. Berry Jr. As codirectors of the Berry and Nance Dance Project and Davis's protegés, the two artists presented this research at the International Conference of the Humanities at the University of Hawaii in 2012 and at the Collegium of African Diasporan Dance at Duke University in 2014. Nance's recent doctoral research, "Brothers of the Bah-Yah: The Pursuit of Maleness in the Umfundalai Tradition of African Dance," is a multimodal study of African American dancing men's gendered experiences in Kariamu Welsh's Umfundalai technique and her professional demonstration company, Kariamu and Company: Traditions. Upon defending his dissertation in early June 2014, Nance will immediately seek to publish this autoethnographic research.
Nance's artistic inquiry also centralizes African American male discourse. His recent choreographic work Suits (2013), loosely based on his lived experience in an African American Pentecostal church on Men's Day, explores the gendered social scripts that pervade the bonding experiences among African American men. As a choreographic work, it draws on African, neo-traditional, contemporary, and house dance vocabularies to narrate the "male tales" of spirituality, brotherhood, and alienation. The costumes—the suits—serve as a metaphor for the masculine archetypes that African men negotiate in their social interactions with each other. Nance is still engaged in the creative development of the work and is concurrently exploring its salience within the British black community in London.