Okwui Okpokwasili New York

Okwui Okpokwasili is a Brooklyn based performing artist working at the intersection of theater, dance and installation. Her work considers the dynamics of interiority and psychic space in shaping relationships, sociality and memory grounded in the body and perspective of the Afro-femme.  In partnership with collaborator Peter Born, Okpokwasili creates multidisciplinary projects. They include "Bessie" Award winning Pent-Up: A Revenge Dance, "Bessie" Award winning Bronx Gothic, Bronx Gothic: The Oval, Poor People's TV Room, Poor People's TV Room Solo, When I Return Who Will Receive Me, and Adaku's Revolt. They currently have a work installed as part of the exhibition: “Grief and Grievance, Art and Mourning in America” at the New Museum.

   In the last few years, Okpokwasili has been working on Sitting On A Man's Head a collaborative, improvisational sonic praxis with multiple artists inspired by the precolonial embodied protest practices of Southeastern Nigerian women called Sitting On A Man. The last iteration of this practice was an anchoring event in the Danspace Platform: Utterances from the Chorus, which she co-curated along with the team lead by Judy Hussie-Taylor at Danspace Project in NYC. 

As a performer, Okpokwasili frequently collaborates with award- winning director Ralph Lemon, including How Can You Stay in the House All Day and Not Go Anywhere?; Come home Charley Patton (for which she also won a New York Performance “Bessie” Award); a duet performed at The Museum of Modern Art as part of On Line: Drawing Through the Twentieth Century; and Scaffold Room. 

Okpokwasili’s residencies and awards include The French American Cultural Exchange (2006-2007); Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography Choreographic Fellowship (2012); Baryshnikov Arts Center Artist-in-Residence (2013); New York Live Arts Studio Series (2013); Under Construction at the Park Avenue Armory (2013); New York Foundation for the Arts’ Fellowship in Choreography (2013); Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Extended Life Program (2014-17, 2019-20); ICPP at Wesleyan (2015), The Foundation for Contemporary Arts’ artist grant in dance (2014); BRIClab (2015); Columbia University (2015), and the Rauschenberg Residency (2015). Okpokwasili was the 2015-2017 Randjelovic/Stryker New York Live Arts Resident Commissioned Artist (RCA.) She was a 2018 Princeton University Hodder Fellow, a 2018 Herb Alpert Awardee in Dance, a 2018 Doris Duke Artist Awardee, and a 2018 MacArthur Fellow. She is currently a UNC Chapel Hill CPA fellow.

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