Juan Manuel Aldape Muñoz

Assistant Professor

Overview

Dr. Juan Manuel Aldape Muñoz’s research is at the intersection of performance studies, illegality and citizenship, borderlands studies, critical phenomenology, and critical dance studies. He is an interdisciplinary scholar with a research and teaching focus on creative ethnography and (Afro)Latinx/Latin American undocumented cultural production. He’s an assistant professor in the Department of Performing and Media Arts. Alongside Dr. Debra Castillo here on campus and colleagues at Syracuse and Colgate, he is also the co-founding member of the (Afro)Latinx, Latin American, Caribbean, and Indigenous Performance working group—which is open to the public. He was most recently a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Society for the Humanities from 2020 to 2022. In addition to writing about performance’s role in transforming society and ideas of citizenship, he is a choreographer and professional dancer whose work has been presented internationally. He’s the former managing director of San Francisco’s Festival of Latin American Contemporary Choreographers. He sits on the Board of Directors for the Dance Studies Association. Dr. Aldape Muñoz is a first-generation formerly undocumented scholar. His research has been published in peer-reviewed and public journals, as well as in performance-related anthologies.

Research Focus

His first book project The Alien Commons: Choreography and Performance Beyond Citizenship analyzes performances related to migrant experiences, both legal and "illegal." It features undocumented, queer, indigenous adoptee, and Afro-Indigenous artistic projects within the umbrella of migrant latinidad. At the core of his research, he is interested in the arrangement of movement, how and under what terms someone or some things are allowed to be free and/or restricted based on markers of difference (race, class, legal status, gender, faith, ability, and species). He looks at movement and its control across multiple stages: theatrical, digital, interventionist, and conditions of being. Understanding choreography—as more than a neutral metaphor and an arrangement of steps for dance performance—is a useful analytic to engage equity and justice concerns that cross aesthetic borders, identity categories, overlapping settler topographies, and serial colonialisms. 

His second book project, Performing the Digital Border, fleshes out the terrains of new bordering technologies and their lively performative function, intertwining with the notion of the border as territorial and symbolic construction. This interdisciplinary book examines theatrical, social media, blockchain, artificial intelligence, and augmented reality performances highlighting and challenging the increased digitalization of border security and immigrant enforcement measures giving rise to an emergent culture of complete but silent movement surveillance and tracking. New control mechanisms manifest through fingerprinting technologies, artificial intelligence in border video surveillance, phone digital applications for asylum requests, facial recognition at airport screenings, citizenship NFTs, and access to (im)migrants’ social media accounts upon entry. His thesis is that digital borders are performative utterances, or what he terms digital performatives. 

As a choreographer, he produces and choreographs bilingual multimedia dance theater performances with the belief that the intersection of contemporary dance theater and social justice makes us think and move in more inclusive ways. His productions feature a fusion of (Afro)Latinx dance forms such as cumbia, bachata, hip hop, and salsa with Euro-American improvisational scores, contemporary concert dance, ballet, and release technique. His creative process has been presented throughout Mexico, Ireland, Serbia, England, and California.

He’s been a resident artist for venues such as the Alfredo Zalce Contemporary Art Museum (Morelia, MX), 5 Acre Farm (England), STATION-Service for Contemporary Dance (Belgrade, Serbia), Zenon Dance Company (Minneapolis, US), and Sugar Space Arts Center (Salt Lake, US).

He is the co-founder of both A PerFarmance Project and Dance Cloud. PerFarmances are site-specific collaborations between farmers and performers researching the concept of food security and labor from rural and urban perspectives. DanceCloud.org is a community of dance practitioners and researchers digitally sharing the places they explore and promoting an embodied way to think about the digital space around us. Also, he was a founding member of the Salt Lake-based improvisational dance company Movement Forum (aka MoFo).

He's had the pleasure of dancing for/with NAKA Dance Theater, Molly Heller, Dance Koester Dance Company, and Stephen Brown Dance Theater. He's appeared in works by Ronald K. Brown, Tandy Beal, Lindsey Drury, Eileen Rojas, Eloy Barragan, Eric Handman, Olga Pona, Jo Blake, John Jasperse, and Andy Noble. 

For over a decade, he was part of the group Speak Your Piece... of Mind. Speak was a bias awareness troop that used forum theater, in the style of Augusto Boal, as a means of developing scenes that spoke to racism, sexism, and any other forms of -ism and systemic inequalities. The group traveled to different schools and community centers locally and nationally. 

Publications

Forensic Performances: Searching for Justice in NAKA Dance Theater’s BUSCARTE: Duet,Theatre Research International. 2022. 40 (1). pp 46-62.

Pleasure in Circulation: Erotic Power on the Migrant Road to Amarillo,Investigaciones en Danza y Movimiento, 2020, (v.2, n.3, July-December 2020, pp. 2-17)

Violence and Performance Research Methods: Direct-Action, ‘Die-ins,’ and Allyship in the Black Lives Matter era.” Performance as Research: Knowledge, Methods, Impact. Eds. Bruce Barton and et al. New York: Routledge, 2018. 311-332.

The Global Graduate: Graduating in the Time of the Global University,” with Lisa Skwirblies, In  International Performance Research. Eds. Sruti Bala et Al. Cham: Palgrave, 2017. 83-94.

Choreographic Mobilities: Embodied Migratory Acts Across the US-Mexico Border,” In Attending to Movement: Somatic Perspectives on Living in this World. Eds. Sarah Whatley, Natalie Garrett Brown, Kirsty Alexander. Devon: Triarchy Press, 2015. 62-74.

Invited Book Reviews

2023                “To Feel and to Move: Tracing the Borders of Dance Studies and Refugee Studies” Dance Chronicle, Forthcoming

2021                “Moving Otherwise: Dance, Violence, and Memory in Buenos Aires by Victoria Fortuna” Investigaciones en Danza y Movimiento, August 2021.

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