Professor, Department of Anthropology
Jane Desmond, PhD, is a professor of anthropology at the University Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a former modern dancer and choreographer who has worked in film, onstage, and through academic publications to help build the fields of performance studies and dance studies. As a performer she freelanced in New York City with Wendy Perron, Ed Di Lello, and Bonnie Scheibman and served on the full-time faculties of dance at Cornell University and Duke University, where she was an artist-in-residence for a decade before pursuing a PhD in American studies at Yale. She is the author or editor of five scholarly books, including the influential edited collections Meaning in Motion: New Cultural Studies of Dance and Dancing Desires: Choreographing Sexualities on and off the Stage, each of which was one of the first books to engage with, respectively, the intersections between cultural studies and sexuality studies and dance. Desmond was the movement designer for Volker Schlöndorff's film The Handmaid's Tale and the coproducer of the award-winning PBS documentary Chuck Davis: Dancing through West Africa. She currently works on bodily display and social identity in dance, tourism, daily life, and across the species line. A recent dance article that focuses on dance and precarity was published in Dance Research Journal in summer 2019. Desmond has served on the editorial and advisory boards of Dance Chronicle, Dance Research Journal, the Congress on Research in Dance, and the Society of Dance History Scholars. In addition to her PhD, she holds an MFA in dance from Sarah Lawrence College, where she studied under Bessie Schönberg. For more information, see her faculty web page.
Lisa Gay Dixon
Associate Professor, Illinois Theatre
Lisa Gaye Dixon is a professional actor, director, and writer. She has worked across the country and around the globe. She began her career with the Steppenwolf Theatre Company in a revival of For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf and has been seen on the stages of the Royal Shakespeare Company and the New Globe Theatre in London and regionally at theatres including the Attic, Performance Network, Lost Nation, the Kitchen, GEVA, the Illinois Shakespeare Festival, Milwaukee Shakespeare, and the Goodman Theatre. As a playwright, she premiered a one-woman show entitled My Case Is Altered: Tales of a 21st Century Roaring Girl in 2015. Her film credits include The Trouble with Men and Women, Leading Ladies, Using: The Movie, and Ruby Love. In the area of dance, she is grateful to have worked with award-winning choreographers Cynthia Oliver and Sara Hook and has worked with BFA and MFA students of Dance at Illinois, exploring the connective tissue between movement and meaning, text and sound, intention and action. At Illinois Theatre, Lisa directs productions for the department dealing with issues of gender, race, sexuality, and power, exploring commonalities and difference—all while "finding the funny." For more information, see her faculty web page.
Assistant Professor, Kinesiology and Community Health
Dr. Citlali López-Ortiz has enjoyed a long academic career in developing research, teaching, and service interests in dance, biomechanics, motor control, motor coordination, and motor learning in both health and physical rehabilitation. As a certified classical ballet instructor from the Bolshoi Academy of Dance and from the Ballet Academy of Coyoacán under Ana del Castillo with extensive research on the neural basis of movement coordination, Citlali López-Ortiz has blended multiple disciplines in her work. By establishing a scientific basis for dance in the rehabilitation of movement disorders, Citlali López-Ortiz has investigated a wide spectrum of neurological disorders such as cerebral palsy, Parkinson's disease, and multiple sclerosis. In her spare time Citlali López-Ortiz can be found teaching classical ballet at Joffrey Ballet summer intensives, inspiring young minds and burgeoning dancers. For more information, see her faculty web page.