Participants of Dancing Cy(i)phers' 2019 event "Hip Hop's Embodied Expression."

Dancing Cy(i)phers

Honoring the deep culture and movement of the African diaspora

About the Organization

Dancing Cy(i)phers produces events in the East Bay region that explore the cultural and historical roots of  African American dance forms. Through panel discussions and master classes led by renowned dance artists, participants can take a deep dive into the the origins of hip hop and other forms of African American social dance. At these events, scholars and practitioners alike have the opportunity examine the many techniques prevalent in the African diaspora dance vocabulary (such as undulations, shakes, and rolls of the spine and pelvis) and identify not only their original source, but function and meaning.

Living Cultures Grant


Back to the Root: Cosmology of the Spine and Pelvis in African Rooted Dance

Building upon its 2020 symposium, Dancing Cy(i)phers received a grant from ACTA’s Living Cultures Grant Program in 2021 to share the understandings realized during its 2020 symposium and class series, which explored African diaspora dances that utilize the spine and pelvis in an effort to understand the deeper meaning of the techniques themselves. During a series of workshops culminating in a three-day symposium, cultural specialists will share common movement languages and rituals that they have come to understand through dialogue and participation in each other’s classes.


Back to the Root: Somatics of African Rooted Dance Event

In 2020 Dancing Cy(i)phers received a Living Cultures Grant from ACTA to continue its programming with a new three-day event titled, Root: Somatics of African Rooted Dance. This event will seek to answer the question posed by the creator of the Talawa dance technique, Thomas Presto, “How is it that people subjected to the inhumane, backbreaking work forced upon them during the transatlantic slave trade managed to not only worship, honor, mourn, and rejoice through dance, but to articulate their spines and pelvises in ways that appear otherworldly at times?” This event will specifically explore the African diaspora dances that utilize the spine and pelvis in an effort to understand the deeper meaning of the techniques themselves.  Workshops will include sessions on Undulations and the Healthy Spine; Honor your Roll: Congolese 101; Dunham Technique; Talawa Technique and more. Panels and a community town hall will cover such topics as Reclaiming of the Black Female Body in Motion, health and healing properties of the movement of the spine and more.

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