Research interests: body theology, queer theory, choreographic practices, American religious culture, practice-based research, social justice and equity
The interdisciplinary artist, choreographer and scholar Christopher-Rasheem McMillan is an assistant professor of dance theory and practice and of gender, women’s and sexuality studies at the University of Iowa. McMillan earned a BA from Hampshire College, an MFA in experimental choreography from the Laban Conservatoire, London and a PhD in theology and religious studies from King’s College London. In 2019, he was awarded the Collegiate Teaching Award, the highest teaching honor of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Iowa. In 2020, McMillan was appointed a fellow at the Yale Institute of Sacred Music in Theology and the Arts, and he was named a Resident Fellow at New York University’s Center for Ballet and the Arts in 2021. Currently, he is completing a fellowship at the Center for Afrofuturist Studies.
McMillan’s research explores choreography in an expanded field, an interest that he has approached through experimental practices and creative processes in a multiple formats and expressions. He uses video, performance, photography and oral storytelling to explore themes of race, memory, queer desire, religion and personal and public mythology. McMillan's work is deeply rooted in spirituality and embodiment. He draws from his background in theology and corporeality to question social inequity and injustice in practice and theory.
His current project, Sacred Grounds, follows two interdependent approaches: the completion of a book entitled Performance Criticism: Scripture, Sex, and the Sacred and an evening-length performance, Sacred|Body as Choreology. Together, these components will create new knowledge, methods and approaches not only for theorising the cultural impact of the choreographic through theological discourse but also for creating practical and impactful approaches to body-based art and meaning-making.
Mcmillan’s latest dance work, The Long Way Home (2021), was commissioned by Black Mountain College Museum, and his seminal dance work, Black Lokes (2017), an authorized reconstruction of Trisha Brown’s Locus, has been written about by Alexander Schwan and theorist Magarita Dechelva. He has danced the works of Merce Cunningham, Dan Wagoner, Paul Taylor and many others. McMillan regularly presents his work at Dance Studies Association (DSA) and has been to selected to participate in think tanks such as the Black Performance Theory (BPT) working group (2019).
McMillan’s performance works have been featured at venues such as the Bates Dance Festival of Bates College, Providence International Arts Festival (PVD), the Dance Complex and Green Street Studios in Cambridge, Massachusetts as well as in performance platforms such as the participatory event Beyond Text, London (2011). He was a Five College Fellow for the 2013–2014 academic year and a Grant Wood Fellow for the 2016–2017 academic year. McMillan has been a guest artist at colleges and universities including Reed College, Amherst College, Middlebury College, Franklin and Marshall College and Roger Williams University. He has performed and collaborated with artist such as T. J. Dedeaux-Norris, Wendy Woodson, Netta Yerushalmy, Cathy Nicoli and Jonathan Gonzalez. His writing has appeared in multiple journals, including The Journal of Dance, Movement & Spiritualities, Liminalities and Contact Quarterly.
McMillan, Christopher-Rasheem. ‘Performing the Sacred Archive: Discourses on Reconstruction, Documentation and Biblical Interpretation’. Dance, Movement & Spiritualities 1.2 (2014): 329–346.
McMillan, Christopher-Rasheem. ‘Biblical Performance Criticism: The Almost, but Not Quite, Transubstantiation of Performance Studies into Religious Studies’. Liminalities 13.3 (2017): 1–23.
McMillan, Christopher-Rasheem. ‘Move When the Spirit Says Move: Contemplative Dance, Witness, and Embodied Testimony’. Contact Quarterly 42.2 (2017): 34–39.
McMillan, Christopher-Rasheem. ‘In Search of Our Aunts’ Gardens: Choreographic Reconstruction, Race and Bodily Transfer in Black Lōks’. Choreographic Practices 9.2 (2018): 191–212.
McMillan, Christopher-Rasheem. ‘Performing Blackness under Roman Occupation: Embodied Resistance and the Empire (A Thinking Essay)’. Ecumenica: Performance and Religion 14.1 (2021): 1–14.