Jacqui Malone is a historian of American dance and a professor in the Queens College Department of Drama, Theater and Dance at the City University of New York. In 1987, she began extensive research on African American vernacular dance in performance with emphasis on vocal choreography, sorority and fraternity song and dance rituals, and the movement stylizations of historically black college marching bands. This led to a growing interest in earlier vernacular dance forms that grew out of African American culture, especially jazz dance.
Her current project, “Jazz Music in Motion,” explores the relationship between jazz dance and jazz music by focusing on the contributions of African American chorus line dancers in Harlem who performed with jazz bands between 1925 and 1955. Because their impact on jazz culture has been consistently undervalued by cultural historians, this study addresses a series of important questions: What is jazz dance? How did its early development parallel the evolution of jazz music? How do professional women dancers fit into the jazz culture of the 1920s–1950s?
Malone is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Ford Foundation Fellowship, two scholar-in-residence fellowships at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture of The New York Public Library, and a Presidential Research Award at Queens College. She is a former member of the Eleo Pomare Dance Company and the author of Steppin’ on the Blues: The Visible Rhythms of African American Dance (University of Illinois Press, 1996) and Class Act: The Jazz Life of Choreographer Cholly Atkins (Columbia University Press, 2001).