Hello from a rainy, thundery day in Flagstaff, Arizona! I’ve been here since the monsoon season began mid-summer, working out of Joann Keali‘inohomoku’s house in order to create an archive collection of her research materials and personal ephemera. Joann Keali‘inohomoku (b. 1930) is an anthropologist of dance, co-founder of the organization Cross-Cultural Dance Resources, and professor emeritus of Anthropology at Northern Arizona University.
She lived among and studied a wide range of cultural dance forms, such as hula in Hawaii and ritual dances of the Hopi peoples in Arizona. Keali‘inohomoku continues to receive wide recognition for her 1969 essay in Impulse, “An anthropologist looks at ballet as an ethnic dance form.” The essay critiqued Euro-centrism in dance scholarship, arguing that all forms of dance are ethnic dances and all forms of dance are informed by historical and cultural traditions. In 1996, the Congress on Research in Dance (CORD) awarded Keali‘inohomoku with “Outstanding Contribution to Dance Research” for the lasting influence of her essay.
In 1981, Keali‘inohomoku co-founded the dance research organization Cross-Cultural Dance Resources (CCDR) in Flagstaff, Arizona. The organization aims to promote understanding among diverse cultures through the universal gesture of dance. CCDR provided a dance research library, hosted events, and sponsored dance-scholar residencies. Since 2008, the CCDR collection has been transferred in stages to Arizona State University (ASU) for permanent holding and curation. ASU currently holds materials relating to Gertrude Prokosch Kurath, Allegra Fuller Snyder, and other CCDR contributors.
Keali‘inohomoku’s dance research materials and personal ephemera are presently in process to be transferred from CCDR to ASU. So far, it is apparent that Keali‘inohomoku has played a prominent figure in dance ethnology, as a scholar, respected colleague of anthropologists and ethnomusicologists, friend of professional dancers and companies, and mentor to students and young researchers.
Keali‘inohomoku’s collection is also autobiographical. Not only is her life depicted throughout correspondence, but she has shared written recollections, too. As the collection continues to be processed, it will include items as diverse as kachina dolls of the Hopi people, silougraphs (prints of silhouettes of dancing-body forms), visual recordings, monographs, photographs, and more.