Adanna Kai Jones

Affiliation: Theater and Dance
Assistant Professor of Dance

Adanna Kai Jones (she/her) received her Ph.D. in Critical Dance Studies at the University of California, Riverside, and her BFA in Dance from Mason Gross School of the Arts—Rutgers University. She has performed in professional dance companies based in NYC and New Jersey, including the Julia Ritter Performance Group and Souloworks with Andrea E. Woods. 

With regards to her own creative pursuits, she has choreographed dance-theater pieces that were not only based on her research but were also used as tools for generating more research questions. For example, she choreographed “Wine & Tales” in Port of Spain, Trinidad, which was presented by New Waves! 2015 and the Dancing While Black Performance Lab. And every summer, from 2016 to 2018, she performed new works in New York City with the support of Field Studies, a creative development lab designed for emerging artist/scholars. Upon moving to Maine, she brought her research on the Trinidadian Carnival and intimacy onto the stage with her piece “Navigating the Borders of Silence” as part of the Maine Moves performance series. (It is important to note that each performance remained rooted in her ethnographic fieldwork.)

As a scholar, her research generally focuses on Caribbean dance and identity politics within the Diaspora, paying particular focus to Trini-styled Carnivals and the rolling hip dance known as winin’. From 2017-18, she began working on her latest project as a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Dance Department for Faculty Diversity at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. While there, she conducted a multi-sited, transnational ethnography that tracked the ways in which Caribbean choreographers play an integral role in the support and preservation of contemporary Caribbean identity politics within the US. In particular, this leg of her research attends to the ways these dancers complicate US-based constructions of black identity, ultimately putting both Dance and Caribbean Studies into a critical dialogue with Race Studies.

Lastly, as an educator, she remains committed to anti-racist pedagogic praxes. In addition to being a member of the Un/Commoning Pedagogies Collective, she is a current Steering Committee Member of the Coalition of Diasporan Scholars Moving. Both organizations aim to tackle, endure, unravel, and combat the pangs of white supremacy within academia and beyond.

Adanna Jones in costume


  • PhD, Critical Dance Studies, University of California, 2016
  • BFA, Dance, Rutgers University, 2005