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Sally Sommer

Published April 15, 2015

Sally SommerProfessor Emerita
School of Dance
Curriculum Vitae (CV)


A dance historian, dance critic, and academic, Sally Sommer is widely recognized as a leading expert on dance in American popular culture. As associate professor of the practice of dance at Duke University, she taught courses in history of modern dance, history of African-American dance, and dance criticism. Since the autumn of 2001, she has been a full professor at Florida State University, teaching in the master’s program in dance. As a dance critic and performance journalist, she writes regularly for periodicals in this country and for Le Monde, the Paris-based journal for which she is special New York correspondent. As a historian, she served as dance editor for the Encyclopedia of African-American History and Culture (Macmillan, 1996), and she has served as commentator and artistic consultant on dance performance for national public radio and public television, focusing on social dance, tap dance, dance in music videos, and contemporary club dance.


Bachelor of Arts in Speech/English, University of Arizona
Master of Arts in Speech and Theater, University of Minnesota
Doctor of Philosophy in Dance, Performance Theory and Dance History, New York University

Scholarly/Creative Works

-Sommer, S., & Larson, A. L.. “A Life in Dance,” workshop curriculum outline, 2017
-Sommer, S., Malnig, J., Colb, A., & Mulholland, J. (2016). Contentious Play: Understanding the socio-politics of queer social dance. Department of Health and Applied Social Sciences, University of the West of England, Bristol, 2017
-Lecture “Willi Ninja” – Lost and Found Platform. Delivered at Danspace Project. (Regional), 2016

Teaching Areas

Dance History, Theory of Dance, Research. Doctoral Directive Status in Humanities. GFS

Additional Scholarly/Creative Works, Publications and Awards

Tap Preservation Award, American Tap Dance Foundation, 2013

Outstanding Dance Documentary Nominee, The Fred and Adele Astaire Awards, 2012

Co-Editor with J. Atkins and T. Young, Perspectives on American Dance: The Twentieth Century, Forthcoming, University Press of FL, 2018

9/11 Changed The Way They Saw It: Receptions of “Descent”. In Sommer, S., Young, T., & Atkins, J. (Eds.), Dance in American Culture Anthology. University of Florida Press, 2018

An Appreciation; Gregory Hines: From Time Step To Timeless. In Aloff, M. (Ed.), America Dancing, an anthology of great dance writing. The Library of America, 2018

La danza vernacula americana: la contribucion afroamericana de 1700 a 1940, In Nelida Mones Mestre (Ed.), Historia de la Danza. Mahali Ediciones, 2017

Willi Ninja, Danspace Project Platform Publication, 10-15, 2016