Traveling Scholar performs at ULM


Traneshia Stormer

In lieu of Black History Month students, professors and administrators gathered around for a performance by Traveling Scholar Joni Jones that linked together different minorities.

Jones performed an excerpt from her book “Theatrical Jazz.” She said, “theatrical jazz is a term given to performance that are non-linear, trans temporal, collaborative, improvisational and driven by a need to create freedom and joy.”

She connected with her audience when she began her performance and said, “Everything is everything.”

Jones used the phrase “to suggest that all things are connected, the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’ and everything in between are linked and mutually influencing.”

In her book and performance, Jones linked together five elements in which she found connections. These topics included feminism, queerness, blackness, jazz and Yoruba-based spirituality.

Jones opened the floor to not only questions and answers, but also to comments and critiques of her performance and her work.

“I liked her performance, although it was not what I expected,” said Thanh Lam, a sophomore pre-dental hygiene major.

Many students said they did not expect the performance they received and that it was different than many other performances they have seen.

“It seemed more like her testimony and her personality showed throughout her performance,” said Mercedes Mitchell, a senior general studies major.

Jones said that she’d “be happy if the students began to question their assumptions about life’s possibilities” after they watched her performance.

The program was sponsored by the University of Louisiana at Monroe Speech and Debate Forum.

Jones is an associate professor of Theatre and Dance of African Diaspora Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. She specializes in performance scholarship that focuses on identity, ethnography, Yoruba-based performance aesthetics, Black Feminisms and Theatre for Social Change.

Jones’ book, “Theatrical Jazz: Performance, Ase, and the Power of the Present Moment,” is set to be released in either the spring or fall of 2015.