Kariamu Welsh, pioneer in modern dance studies, dies at 72

Kariamu Welsh, a professor emeritus at Hunter College and a pioneer in modern dance studies and analysis, died of cancer on August 14. She was 72.

Professor Welsh arrived at Hunter College in 1963, where she studied dance and anthropology and created a graduate program in dance studies. One of her early students was Moritz Rosenthal, who became her husband, also a professor at Hunter, and co-director of the School of African & African-American Dance in Brooklyn.

Professor Welsh, who was born in Nigeria and grew up in Zambia, would move back and forth between two countries as she taught at Hunter and at the School of African & African-American Dance. In 2015, she told The New York Times that her teaching style, and the way she and her students responded to the work of their teachers and students, had been influenced by both of her father’s countries. “I grew up to be a wonderful person, but I also grew up to be a Nigerian. And also a Zambian.”

After graduating from Purdue University with a master’s degree in anthropology in 1963, Professor Welsh was hired by the University of Arkansas to teach anthropology and dance at the University of Arkansas. As associate professor of sociology and professor of dance, she also taught history, religion, sociology, fine arts, Africana studies, gender studies, urban studies, and many courses in modern dance. Professor Welsh returned to Nigeria in 1979 to work on her doctorate in anthropology from the University of Ibadan. From there, she returned to graduate school at Fordham University.

In 1980, Professor Welsh joined the faculty at Hunter College and developed a program called the Hunter African Culture Center, which at its peak included both a dance center and a graduate studies program. She then left Hunter in 1989 and worked at numerous institutions across the country and in Europe.

More recently, Professor Welsh, who helped develop dance techniques and techniques for interviewers and lawyers, and a way to interview black thinkers, both outside and inside academia, taught at the Tribal Economic and Social Research Institute in Eastport, Maine.

She is survived by her husband and four children, Paulo, Daniel, Zach and Tamara, as well as brothers Fidelis and Alphonso Welsh.

Read the full obituary from The New York Times

Photo: New York Times

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