Lecture by professor of Duke University Thomas F. DeFrantz host by Evolution Solo Weekend and Alina Sokulska #evolutionsoloweekend2018
Dancing the African Diaspora. Black American social dances.
African American Social Dances have fueled a global possibility of moving through rhythm toward urgent social expression.

This talk provides an overview of the variety of impulses that create the ground for Black Social Dance in the context of the United States. The talk explores various eras in social dance history and the ways that Black Social Dances create the possibilities for a vibrant dancing body engaged in collective aesthetic activity.

Thomas DeFrantz is a Professor of African and African American Studies at Duke University, and director of SLIPPAGE: Performance, Culture, Technology, a research group that explores emerging technology in live performance applications. Thomas F. DeFrantz received the 2017 Outstanding Research in Dance award from the Dance Studies Association. He has taught at NYU, Stanford, Hampshire College, MIT, and Yale. In 2013, working with Takiyah Nur Amin and an outstanding group of artists and researchers, he founded the Collegium for African Diaspora Dance. Current research imperatives include explorations of black social dance, and the development of live-processing interfaces for performance; he regularly teaches courses in these areas of expertise.

Watch the full lecture here!
#jazzdancenotes challenge research project
My academic interest in Jazz music and Jazz dance have lead me to the idea to release my personal analytical project about jazz dance history called Jazz dance Notes challenge. It has taken the shape of articles contain small quotations and comments on jazz dance history, in particular, how the contemporary anthropologists, dance historians and researchers see and analyse the mighty Jazz Dance. That's why, my personal challenge is to feature my favorite in the posts on #jazzworkshopswithalinasokulska page following main topics such as the nature of jazz dance, its styles and branches, its roots and continuum, its connection to music, improvisation, etc.

To read more articles, follow this hashtag:
Full Jazz Notes Challenge
Alina Sokulska represents jazz dance on official education program of #internationaljazzday2018
A dancing tribute to Thelonious Monk on International Jazz Day'18
video report by #Zyablovmedia
Sasha Mashin "Happy Synapse" feat. Alina Sokulska
A review about Alina's collaboration with Happy Synapse project by Moscow drummer and band leader Sasha Mashin by Elizaveta Goleva for Санкт-Петербургский Музыкальный Вестник [in Russian].

At Rainy Days Jazz festival 2018, a first jazz festival of a St. Petersburg label Rainy Days, promoting contemporary jazz music in Russia.

Composition - The Hidden Voice by Rosario Giuliani. Feat. Makar Novikov, Benito Gonzalez and Sasha Mashin.
Sasha Mashin Happy Synapse feat. Alina Sokulska at Rainy Days Jazz Fest
Interview for "From The Top" podcast by IG HOP
Speaking about the ways media changed social dance (with Alexey Korolyov)
Sunday Talk on Evolution Solo Weekend 2017
"If you know the foundation, the future is clear" - Josette Wiggan
Frankie Martinez about Evolution Solo Weekend

"This to me is one of the most intelligent concepts, one of the most intelligent realizations that I didn't even have until I came here: of connectivity in disciplines, in musical disciplines and dance disciplines. Because you have to kind of dig dip to understand how this stuff is threaded together, how it's all combined. And to bring them together into a single arena and to have people partake in them together at the same time, communities that wouldn't necessarily cross each other; and to actually demonstrate to ourselves and to the audience the connectivity of these things, like the historical connectivity of these things, it requires an analysis that I think is extremely intelligent. And I just want to say that: I've never seen like this in the world in terms of this line of connection. Somebody stumbled onto this line, extraordinary. I think it's absolutely remarkable, what's happening here."

Sunday Talk on Evolution Solo Weekend 2016
"The better is Jazz, the less it is appreciated" - Frankie Martinez
Frankie Martinez and Annelys Pérez Castillo talking about the problems of preserving social dance art forms nowadays, the deepness and complexity of the folklore, how should the roots be respected and how the new must be created. Sunday Talk held on Evolution Solo Weekend 2016: Afro-Latin Edition in Casa Latina dance studio, St. Petersburg, Russia, September 23-25.

[Interview] Dennis Adu & Alina Sokulska for old fashioned radio
I Get A Kick Out Of Dancing
Dennis Adu & Alina Sokulska speaking about the collaboration between musicians and a dancer, about the visual and audible sides of Jazz. Interview on August 23rd, before the release of their common project with Dennis Adu Quintet "I Get A Kick Out Of Dancing" in Caribbean Club Concert Hall. With Miriam Dragina for Old Fashioned Radio.
[Interview] Alina Sokulska on the interview with Alexei Korolyov
Departing from the Tradition and Roots to creating of your own Revival
Rebel Rebel
Listen to the interview by "From The Top"

[Interview] Alina Sokulska in talk with Suzie-Q
Evolution of dance, respecting the Tradition

Interview by Suzie Q at Radio Sants 103.2 with Alina Sokulska talking about Latin American literary studies, bebop and dance in the program "Va de Swing"!

Barcelona, Spain, October 27, 2017


Professor of Mambo
"Multi-metric means multi-drums. Now how can you dance to that? The second great secret weapon is that different parts of the body move in different rhythms. Multiple meter demands mastery of self." Self-mastery requires coolness, not only in the heat of the dance, but as a way of life: "The highest value is reconciliation and generosity, to be at ease, to settle quarrels. Tranquility of mind. To be cool, wet, and silent. When you hear 'chill,' you're in the black aesthetic of the cool."
Yale Alumni Magazine about Robert Farris Thompson
Jazz Is A Four Letter Word
Jazz doesn't exist

Why I partly agree that jazz is dead and why I like #jazzisafourletterword concept by Nicholas Payton... Because as soon as you give a certain name to a certain phenomenon in life, you immediately tag it (and kill it). Like, for example, the word "jazz". Look around, now everyone is such a big fan of jazz, everyone knows everything, talking, discussing and expressing his/her point of view on jazz. The word "jazz" in such an opinion appears 5 times in a sentence at least (that is a proof of his/her linguistic uncertainly and actually doubtful grounds that produced this opinion).

As soon as you go beyong the "tag", you start understanding more things. Then you stop insisting on your own view, this is jazz, and this is not jazz. And the further beyond the frames you go, the more you actually doubt that you know anything, and the more you are experimenting.

Some say jazz died in 1959. Some say jazz is a four letter word. Duke Ellington said, jazz is a tree. Max Roach said, jazz doesn't exist, and if it does exist, it is played by Gerry Mulligan and Benny Goodman :D

No, I believe in jazz, but now I definitely know it absorbed so many influences, that I dare to assume, it is a self deconstructing (and constructing) music form. It has certain rules and cores of genre, that are being destroyed and reborn all the time.

Not all music is jazz, but jazz is definitely All Music.

While concerning myself with the question, What Is Jazz? for the last couple of years, that pushed me to create my first longpiece, I came across this interview with the greatest, Duke Ellington (what wise of a man he is!). While commenting on the 4 categories the musicians were involved in that time (1963 is the year of this interview), which are: symphony, teaching, television and what is called jazz music, he is saying the following curious thing about how he sees the future of jazz:

"[...] All these 4 categories will be left without a category, even the category of jazz, because it is going to be accepted generally, and soon that music is music and there is not gonna be any symphonic music or jazz music. It just gonna be music, and if it sounds good, it's gonna be good music, and if doesn't - it won't be music." - Duke Ellington, 1963.
[Interview] Alina Sokulska in talk with Quick Quick Show [Russian]
On inspiration, professional dancing and roots.

Interview by Quick Quick Show with Alina Sokulska talking about everything.

St. Petersburg, Russia, February 2, 2018


Art Blakey on jazz music and dance
Sometimes I wonder how jazz musicians can be a voice of their time, both in music and dance context. Speaking about the sophisticated relationship between jazz music and dance after swing era, read to Art Blakey speaking about old times of jazz dance: "I wonder if the people will start dancing again, because jazz is very much a danceable music. I remember when they did, and that was very nice, too. But people don't do it any more—and it's 'terrible. I think it'll come back."

And about post-swing music that was considered to be undanceable:
"The thing was, when this type of music came in, people were ignorant of it. Ignorance breeds fear, and fear breeds hate. They couldn't understand it; so they didn't want to listen. If they'd listened, they could dance to it."

If they'd listened, they could dance to it. - that's the key statement to link the jazz music itself with the enormous tradition and history of jazz dance. Thank you, Mr. Art Blakey!

I wonder if the people will start dancing again, because jazz is very much a danceable music. I remember when they did, and that was very nice, too. But people don't do it any more—and it's 'terrible. I think it'll come back.

Pushing the limits: Dancing to Bebop Music by Christiane Beinl as danced by Alina Sokulska
I was always analysing culture, literature, text, dance pieces, but I have never expected that somebody would analyse my creativity at this point :) Absolutely bright and smart person Christiane Beinl from Vienna, Austria, IG HOP swing dance school and Vienna University made a deep view on a bebop dancing, a matter of my life right now, on an example of my Salt Peanuts performance...
This article has been edited and published at From the Top Podcast by IG HOP. Here you can read full abstract:
"In a research paper written at the department of musicology at the University of Vienna, IG Hop's Christiane Beinl seeks to explore the relationship of music and dance in the field of improvised dance to the jazz music of the early bebop era, exemplified by the live performance of Alina Sokulska to the bebop song "Salt peanuts" (Gillespie/Parker/Clarke 1942) played by the band "The Cotton Lickers" in Vienna on 3 June 2016. Under the title of "Dancing the Undanceable - An Investigation into Improvised Dancing to Bebop Music", Christiane uses the video recording of Alina's final performance after a two-month residency with IG Hop as the basis for a tentative analysis aimed at specifying a set of parameters necessary for dancing to a type of jazz that arguably moved away from the earlier, more dance-oriented traditional forms (Lott 1988: 603).

At our Dancers In Residence Program (DIR#5), we invited ALINA SOKULSKA to developed a choreography with the local Swing Band THE COTTON LICKERS. The performance took place on 3rd of June 2016 at the "DIR#5 - A ♥ for Alina Sokulska" farewell party.
Christiane conducted an interview with Alina prior to the performance. Following the notion of Giurchesco and Torp (1995: introduction, para. 14) that "[t]he interplay between dancer and musician in the process of improvisation is very intricate and subtle and […] constitutes an attractive theme for future investigation", particular attention was given to Alina's understanding of improvisation as well as the question of whether a sound anchorage (both literally and metaphorically speaking) in the cultural tradition of the target community is a prerequisite for engaging in a performative process that all participants will find to be a convincing representation of its kind. Here, we have chosen for your reading and viewing pleasure parts of this interview-based analysis which deal with Alina's approach to working with a band; note how her answers about improvisation are visualised in her own performance.

read more
Approach to the music

In the interview, Alina talks about her approach to the music, especially live music. She talks about a sense of partnership and a feeling of collaboration that exists between the artists on stage:
„[...] The performance captured on video clearly shows that Sokulska opts for [...] the (live) music being the colleague of the dancer, an inseparable part of the process without which the performance would not be the way it is. [...] Sokulska mentions her understanding of music mainly in this way and her role as a dancer as that of a co-creator, as another member of the band. [...] she physically shows when she trades solos with the band's drummer as can be seen from minute 2:20 to 2:59, marking herself as a member, said colleague of the band. The last evident feature of embodying this same self-perception is represented in the common vocalising of the song's only verbal element "Salt peanuts, salt peanuts" as can be observed from minute 0:48 to 0:56 as well as at the very end at 3:04."

A few passages later, the paper addresses the importance of being knowledgeable about the individual arts:
„[Sokulska] has a profound knowledge of the syllabus both musically as well as regards the dance and its individual inventory. This [...] is what frees her to improvise to this kind of music. Equally, the musicians have a similar kind of expert knowledge, allowing them to collaborate. A glimpse of this can be seen in the gestures exerted by the band's saxophone player to indicate various stages of the piece, for example indicating the individual solo parts as well as, thereafter, the sign for returning to the song's form at minute 2:54."

Different dimensions of physical expression

In this chapter, the paper again places Alina's answers in context with what we see on the screen. Alina comes up with what Christiane calls "a small catalogue of features" and different possibilities of expressing the music; Christiane relates this to certain moments in the performance. Here's an excerpt of some of the points addressed:

"[W]e can dance the ground beat, the bass and the drums with our footwork"
This can be seen throughout the video, [...] for example from 0:46 to 1:14. Over this period, the dancer applies various ways to show the rhythmical elements of the drums and enhance their perceptibility.

"[W]e can express trumpet solo with arms and body movement"
This can be seen for example at 0:19, from 0:42 to 0:46 as well as from 1:20 to 1:26. Also 2:01 to 2:07 shows the dancer enhancing the trumpet's solo with her movement. 2:13 to 2:20 actually shows Sokulska follow the up and down movement suggested by the trumpet at the end of every phrase.

"We can be ironic and use extreme body isolations."
This can be seen particularly in the signature phrases of the song in the opening at minute 0:07 to 0:13, as well as in the closing, 2:59 to 3:06. Yet also small moments throughout the performance show these elements, for example the isolation of the head in a somewhat ironic gesture in 1:08/1:09. Another notable ironic moment is Sokulska's direct look at the audience at 1:00. [...]

"I can skip some parts in music and do nothing"
An example of this can be seen from 2:07 to 2:13. Sokulska mentioned [...] that moments like this [...] are sometimes necessary in order to catch one's breath after very exhausting parts of the choreography.

"[I can] add an accent which is presupposed by the music time but is not directly expressed with musical instrument"
An example of this can be seen from 0:28 to 0:31, where Sokulska adds a rhythmical element through the canonical footwork pattern [...] which is not in but fits the music. Also her accentuated leg movements reminiscent of the Charleston vocabulary from 1:53 to 2:00 can be regarded an example of this technique. Also, her walking in time during the break she takes after 2:00 can be seen as adding an element of the ground beat of the song.

As mentioned initially, these excerpts from Christiane's original paper represent merely a sneak peek of its actual content which gives the reader, next to the transcript of the entire interview with Alina along with a more in-depth analysis of the performance, a discussion of other questions such as the possible differences in the process of listening versus the process of interpreting and how a dancer co-relates the two, especially in an improvised context, as well as Alina's perspective on what traits a dancer must possess in order to be considered a successful participant in the creative process. If you would like to have access to the original paper, feel free to get in touch via [email protected].


Giurchescu, A. & Torp, L. (1995). "Dance – Music Relationships: An Introduction." Dance Ritual and Music. Proceedings of 18th Symposium of the Study Group on Ethnochoreology of the International Coucil for Traditional Music. Introductory keynote.

Lott, E. (1988). "Double V, Double-Time: Bebop's Politics of Style." Callaloo No. 36. 597-605

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