top of page

Michelle Kisliuk


Michelle Kisliuk, Associate Professor, received a doctorate in Performance Studies from New York University in 1991. Integrating theory and practice, she specializes in a performance approach to ethnographic writing and research, and in an ethnographic and critical approach to performing. Since 1986 she has researched the music, dance, daily life, socioesthetics, and cultural politics of forest people (BaAka) in the Central African Republic (, and has also written about urban music/dance and modernity in Bangui (the capital city). In addition, her work extends to the socioesthetics of jam sessions at bluegrass festivals in the United States. Her published essays have appeared in collections including Shadows in the Field (Oxford University Press), Teaching Performance Studies (University of Southern Illinois Press), Performing Ethnomusicology (University of California Press), Music and Gender (University of Illinois Press), and Cultural Sustainabilities (University of Illinois Press), reprinted here in the South African online interactive journal Herri Her book, Seize the Dance! BaAka Musical Life and the Ethnography of Performance (Oxford University Press) won the ASCAP Deems Taylor Special Recognition Award. She has been a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow and a Laura Boulton Senior Fellow in Ethnomusicology. Her current research/writing project is a collection of theoretical essays and case studies that address the ongoing project of performance ethnography. Her courses in the Music Department include Music in Everyday Life, Performance in Africa, and for graduate students Field Research and Ethnography of Performance, and Performing Antiquities and Modernities. She directs the UVA African Music and Dance Ensemble and is currently a College Fellow teaching first-year students in her course Cultures of Play(ing). She is also the co-chair of the Mellon Lab in Embodied Creative Practices hosted by the UVA Institute of Humanities and Global Cultures.

bottom of page