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Black Joy

In the context of the Center for Arts, Design, and Social Research, the global COVID-19 pandemic produced a series of communal experiments in digital pedagogical practices.

This included the co-design of an online Virtual Reality environment, the CAD+SR “Kitchen” [1]. The community also engaged in numerous online lectures, workshops, performances, and created digital interventions and artworks during our annual Research Residencies, titled “Commonplaces and Entanglements,” following Édouard Glissant. Research Fellow Joanna Haigood, a choreographer, produced a video intervention as her contribution to the residency in 2020. The video, Black Joy, like Joanna’s own aerial choreography, zooms out for a meta-versal perspective on global Black cultures and the planetary joy they bestow. As she teaches us in the video, the multiplicity of forms that this joy inhabits are reflections of the conditions of survival and resilience made necessary by the fiction of race and the fact of racism. Haigood produces a sense of relation that echoes Glissant: “Our boats are open, and we sail for everyone” [2].

Black Joy, Joanna Haigood. 2020

The video was produced by Haigood for Commonplaces and Entanglements IX, the Center for Arts, Design, and Social Research residency, 2020.

Sourced material described in notes 3 – 26

Black Joy is part of Urgent Pedagogies Issue#5: Pluraversality



Benfield, D.M., et al. “Impossible Spaces and Other Embodiments: Co-constructing Virtual Realities.” In Art as Social Practice: Technologies for Social Change. Eds. xtine burrough and Judith Walgren. New York and London: Routledge, 2022.


Glissant, É. Poetics of Relation. Betsy Wing, trans. Ann Arbor, MI: The University of Michigan Press, 1997.


Google: The Most Searched: A Celebration of Black History Makers


Cornel West: What It Means to Be Human


Terence Blanchard Flow released 2005 by Blue Note Records


Harry Haigood and Amanda Wagenhaüser (photos from private collection)


Audre Lorde (2012). Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches, p.56, Crossing Press


James Brown Say it Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud (Vox Studios,1968). Written by Alfred “Pee Wee” Ellis.


African American Remember Discrimination of the Past


1960s Harlem Kids Rock and Roll Dancing, New York, USA


James Brown Say it loud I’m black and I’m proud music video


James Brown Personal Reflections of Black America. Live at the Apollo Theater, March 1968.


Georgia Sea Island Singers (Adam in the Garden)


The Ringshout and the Birth of African American Religion


Langston Hughes reads The Negro Speaks of Rivers


Ta-Nehisi Coates reads From Between the World and Me


Kendrick LaMar – Alright


White People Have a Very Very Serious Problem – Toni Morrison on Charlie Rose


Marc Bamuthi Joseph performs “Black Joy in the Hour of Chaos”


W.E.B. DuBois quote from The Souls of Black Folk, 1903.


Zaccho Dance Theatre, in Between me and the other world, soloist Frankie Lee III with Clarissa Dyas, Lydia Clinton and Erik Lee. Choreography and direction by Joanna Haigood; music by Duke Ellington, arranged by Anthony Brown.


Neil deGrasse Tyson – The Cosmic Perspective


Radical Self Car: Angela Davis


Linda Tillery and the Cultural Heritage Choir singing Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing
Earthbeat! Records, 2007


My Favorite Soul Train Line Dance


Last Dance, choreographed and performed by Joanna Haigood. Headlands Center for the Arts Gym 1990.

Joanna Haigood

is an artist who works in installation, time-based public art, and performance. She co-founded Zaccho Dance Theatre in San Francisco, CA, US, in 1980. Haigood has been creating work that uses natural, architectural, and cultural environments as points of departure for movement exploration and narrative. Her stages have included grain terminals, a clock tower, the pope’s palace, military forts, and a mile of urban neighborhood streets in the South Bronx. Her work has been commissioned by many arts institutions, including Dancing in the Streets, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, McColl Center, Walker Arts Center, the Exploratorium Museum, the National Black Arts Festival, Equal Justice Society, and the Festival d’Avignon. She has also been honored with the Guggenheim Fellowship, the Herb Alpert Award in the Arts, the United States Artist Fellowship, and a New York Bessie Award. Haigood is also a recipient of the Doris Duke Artist Award and was a CAD+SR Research Fellow, 2020-2022.


Zaccho Dance Theater web site:

Link to Haigood’s recent project, Love, a state of grace, at Grace Cathedral San Francisco, 2022:

Christopher Bratton, Dalida María Benfield

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