Hanna earned a 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. She is an Affiliate Research Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Maryland, an educator, writer and dance critic.
She has explored the relationship between dance and society in African villages and cities and American theaters, school playgrounds and classrooms as well as adult entertainment clubs and their communities. In addition, she has conducted other research in Africa, urban areas, and American schools with at-risk youth.
To her credit are landmark books: Dancing to Learn: the Brain’s Cognition, Emotion, and Movement, Naked Truth: Strip Clubs, Democracy and a Christian Right (University of Texas Press), To Dance Is Human: A Theory of Nonverbal Communication (University of Chicago Press), Dance, Sex and Gender: Signs of Identity, Dominance and Desire (University of Chicago Press),The Performer-Audience Connection: Emotion to Metaphor in Dance and Society (University of Texas Press), Partnering Dance and Education (Human Kinetics), Dancing for Health: Conquering and Preventing Stress (AltaMira Press), Disruptive School Behavior: Class, Race, and Culture (Holmes & Meier) and Urban Dynamics in Black Africa, co-author (Aldine).
Hanna has published over 300 articles in scholarly journals in African studies, anthropology, art, black studies, dance, drama, education, gender, leisure and recreation, medicine, music, planning, political science, psychology, religion, semiotics, sexuality, therapy, and urban studies, in addition to newspaper and magazine articles for the general reader.
Her research has gained wide recognition in academe, court decisions, newspapers, radio and TV networks in the U.S., and similar newspapers and media in the United Kingdom, Netherlands and Ireland. Hanna’s work has been published in Belgium, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Ghana, Jamaica, Netherlands, Poland, Santo Domingo, South Africa, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
Hanna has lectured at more than 50 colleges and universities and addressed as many association meetings, special conferences and seminars. She has also been a guest speaker and consultant on a wide range of subjects and taught a range of courses at several universities. Trained at UCLA’s Graduate School of Education, Hanna earned a California Teaching Credential and was a Los Angeles City School social studies and English teacher. She has studied various forms of dance and has taught dance and about dance in community centers, high schools and universities in the United States and abroad.
Five different Who’s Who’s have listed her.