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Faculty Spotlight: J. Lorenzo Perillo Ph.D.


Dr. Perillo joined the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa in Fall 2020, and is currently Assistant Professor of Theatre and Dance and Affiliate Faculty with the Department of Women, Gender and Sexuality, Center for Philippine Studies and Center for Southeast Asian Studies. He previously taught at UC Berkeley, UCLA, California State University Dominguez Hills, Cornell University, and in 2019, he received the campus-wide Teaching Recognition Program Award for teaching excellence at the University of Illinois at Chicago. His teaching areas of focus include but are not limited to Hip-hop studies and dance technique, Dance and Performance theory, Movement Analysis, Kinesiology and Anatomy for dancers. 

He earned his Ph.D. in Culture and Performance with a Concentration in Asian American Studies at UCLA. He also holds a M.A. degree in American Studies and Graduate Certificate in International Cultural Studies from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. His intersectional and interdisciplinary research interests include dance and performance studies; race and racialization; Filipinx and transnational Asian American identities; Pacific Islander socialization; popular culture and postcolonialism; (im)migration, gender, and sexuality; queer of color and feminist theories and methodologies; environmental justice; diasporic identity and higher education; and global Hip-hop.

Dr. Perillo was a Fulbright scholar to research Hip Hop in Asia for his new book, Choreographing in Color: Filipinos, Hip-hop, and the Cultural Politics of Euphemism (Oxford University Press 2020), which features interviews from over 80 key artists and organizers and utilizes bilingual ethnography, choreographic analysis, and community engagement to examine Black cultural expression in relation to Filipino racialization. His other research is featured in Amerasia Journal, Theatre Journal, International Journal of Asia-Pacific Studies, and Hip-hop(e): The Cultural Practice and Critical Pedagogy of International Hip-Hop.

In 2013, his essay “If I Were Not in Prison, I Would Not Be Famous: Discipline, Choreography, and Mimicry in the Philippines,” was recognized by the Society of Dance History Scholars with the prestigious Gertrude Lippincott Award, an annual award for the best English-language article in Dance Studies. His research has also received funding by the American Society for Theatre Research, Asian Cultural Council, Ford Foundation, Foreign Language Area Studies, Fulbright Group Projects, and Fulbright-Hays Foundation. 

Other favorite academic achievements include “a particularly challenging year of ethnographic fieldwork in Manila and doing a short improvisational dance on stage while being awarded my Ph.D. in Culture and Performance/Dance at UCLA.” As for performance achievements, he cites “Performing and touring with Henry Kapono and other musicians across the islands. It was both challenging and exciting to work with such a wonderful community of artists.” 

Dr. Perillo is also an alumnus of Culture Shock, a professional Hip Hop dance company and non-profit organization dedicated to youth outreach, and he often brings his artistic background to academic institutions. At Cornell, he utilized the largest national archive of Hip-hop, the Cornell Hip Hop Collection, in his curriculum and also convened the first symposium aimed at bridging Hip Hop Dance practice and research. In 2014, with co-curator Dr. Johanna F. Almiron, Dr. Perillo curated a virtual exhibit fhr the Center for Art and Thought (CA+T), a web-based arts and education nonprofit organization. Entitled “Storm: A Typhoon Haiyan Recovery Project,” the multimedia exhibit features twenty-six dynamic and relevant works by selected artists who commemorate the survivors of the super typhoon that made landfall in November 2013 and proved to be the most destructive storm to hit the Philippines in modern history.

And finally, to students out there, Dr. Perillo kindly shares: “I’m an alum of the graduate program in American Studies at UH Mānoa. I know first-hand about the challenges of balancing academic, artistic, work, and family responsibilities while navigating the intersecting struggles related to race, gender, sexuality, and colonialism as a UH student. Thus, I’m happy to chat with prospective and current students in need of support.”

Fun fact: He is a board game enthusiast!

Visit his website for more information.

Parts of this story were referenced from Dr. Perillo’s website and faculty spotlight.