Dr. Judith Hanna earned her  Ph.D. in anthropology, from Columbia University, an M.A. in political science from Michigan State University, and a B.A. in political science from UCLA, Hanna has conducted research on education; urban areas; and the meaning of dance in villages and cities in Africa, and theaters, school playgrounds, classrooms, adult entertainment clubs, and neo-burlesque venues in the U.S.

Her books are: To Dance Is Human: A Theory of Nonverbal Communication (University of Chicago Press), Dance, Sex, and Gender (University of Chicago Press), The Performer-Audience Connection: Emotion to Metaphor in Dance and Society (University of Texas Press), Partnering Dance and Education: Intelligent Moves for Changing Times (Human Kinetics Press), Dancing for Health: Conquering and Preventing Stress (Altamira), Disruptive School Behavior: Class, Race, and Culture(Holmes & Meier), Urban Dynamics in Black Africa, co-author (Transaction), Naked Truth: Strip Clubs, Democracy, and a Christian Right, (University of Texas Press), and Dancing to Learn: The Brain’s Cognition, Emotion, and Movement. (Rowman & Littlefield).

Hanna's more than a hundred articles appear in, e.g., Comparative Urban ResearchCurrent AnthropologyGender and Culture, Dance Research JournalThe Drama ReviewEducational ResearcherInterethnic CommunicationJournal of the American Academy of ReligionJournal of Planning LiteratureNew York TimesPlay and Culture StudiesPolicy Studies Review, and Washington Post.

Since 1995 she has been an expert court witness on exotic dance 150 cases nationwide.

Her views on exotic dance have been solicited by, for example, The Colbert Report with Stephen Colbert and Bloomberg News. Hanna has lectured at more than 50 colleges and universities, addressed more than 30 association meetings and special conferences and seminars; published her work in Belgium, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Jamaica, Netherlands, Poland, Santo Domingo, Sweden, and U.K.; and appeared on radio and television in Canada, Nigeria, Sweden, U.K., and the U.S.


Areas of Interest

  • Anthropology/sociology/theater of dance, arts and society, education, health, gender, movement behavior, nonverbal communication, politics, urban dynamics; Africa and United States
CV: CV.DA_.2015.docx142.7 KB

Dancing to Learn: The Brain’s Cognition, Emotion, and Movement, Rowman & Littlefield Education, 2015, explores the rationale for dance as a medium of learning to help engage educators, dancers, and members of the general public, as well as to encourage scientists to explore the underpinnings of dance. I draw upon current knowledge about the brain, evolutionary biology, and culture that is applicable to dance in a rapidly changing society which requires learning, adapting, and acquiring new strategies. I marshal research that supports the understanding of dance as (1) nonverbal language with similar places and learning processes in the brain as verbal language, thus a powerful means of communication, (2) physical exercise that sparks new brain cells (neurogenesis and neural plasticity,the brain’s amazing abil­ity to change through­out life), and (3) a means to helps us cope with stress that can motivate or interfere with learning.

I continue the work as an expert court witness begun in 1995 and reported in Naked Truth: Strip Clubs, Democracy and a Christian Right.  Nite Movesv.N.Y. State Department of Taxation and Financeis a current tax case.


Hanna Judith Lynne
jlhanna [at] umd.edu