Kariamu Welsh Asante (1949-2021)

Kariamu Welsh
Kariamu Welsh

Dr. Kariamu Welsh was recognized as a pioneer and trailblazer of African diaspora dance, professor of dance at Temple University for 30 years before retiring in 2019, author and editor of seminal works on Afrocentricity and Black movement traditions. Welsh was born Carole Ann Welsh September 22, 1949 in Thomasville, North Carolina to Ruth Hoover. When she was young her family relocated to Brooklyn, New York. Welsh is known by the name Kariamu, which means “one who reflects the moon” in Kiswahili.

During the 1970s Welsh co-founded The School of Movement in Buffalo, New York. She earned a scholarship to the University of Buffalo graduating in 1972 with a Bachelor of Arts in English. In 1975 Welsh earned her Master of Arts in Humanities at the same institution. Between 1981 and 1983 Welsh was the founding artistic director of the National Dance Company of Zimbabwe and a member of the Dance Trust of Zimbabwe. Additionally, she is a founder of Umfundalai, a Kiswahili word that describes the theory and practice of contemporary African dance that incorporates steps, rhythm, and sensibility from a range of African dance traditions.

Welsh joined the staff of Temple University as a professor of dance in the Boyer College of Music and Dance. In 1993 Welsh received her Doctorate of Arts from New York University in Dance History and Choreography. While attending the State University of New York at Buffalo Welsh met Molefi Kete Asante. The two married but in 2000 the marriage ended. While a professor at Temple University Dr. Welsh founded the Institute for African Dance Research and Performance.

Dr. Welsh has authored the following books: African Culture: The Rhythms of Unity (1989), The African Aesthetic: Keeper of the Traditions (1994), African Dance: An Artistic, Historical, and Philosophical Inquiry (1997), Zimbabwe Dance: Rhythmic Forces, Ancestral Voices, an Aesthetic Analysis (2000), Umfundalai: An African Dance Technique (2003) and Iwe Illanan: A Umfundalai Teacher’s Handbook (2017). She has co-authored African Dance (World of Dance) (2010) with Elizabeth A. Hanley, African Culture The Rhythms of Unity (1985) with Molefi Kete Asante, Hot Feet and Social Change: African Dance and Diaspora Communities (2019) with Thomas F. DeFrantz, Danny Glover, et al., and A Guide to African and African-American Art (1980) with Molefi Kete Asante.

Dr. Welsh received the National Endowment for the Arts Choreography Fellowship, the Creative Public Service Award New York, a Pew Fellowship (1997), a Simon Guggenheim Fellowship (1997), a Pennsylvania Council on the Arts grant (1998), and three Senior Fulbright Scholar awards.

On October 12, 2021 Dr. Kariamu Welsh-Asante died at her home in North Carolina at the age of 72 from complications related to a neurological disorder.