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Nigerian-American Choreographer Okwui Okpokwasili, 24 Others Named as 2018 MacArthur Fellows



NEW YORK, NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 12: Portrait of Okui Okpokwasili on the street in Brooklyn, NY on September 12, 2018.

Nigerian-American choreographer Okwui Okpokwasili has been named among the 2018 MacArthur Fellows.

The MacArthur Fellowship is a $625,000, no-strings-attached award to extraordinarily talented and creative individuals as an investment in their potential.

MacArthur Foundation wrote about Okwui:

Okwui Okpokwasili is a performer, choreographer, and writer creating multidisciplinary performance pieces that draw viewers into the interior lives of women of colour, particularly those of African and African American women, whose stories have long been overlooked and rendered invisible.

The child of immigrants from Nigeria, Okpokwasili was born and raised in the Bronx, and the histories of these places and the girls and women who inhabit them feature prominently in much of her work. Her productions are highly experimental in form, bringing together elements of dance, theater, and the visual arts (with spare and distinctive sets designed by her husband and collaborator, Peter Born).

A versatile and virtuosic performer in her own works and in those of other choreographers, filmmakers, and theater artists, she mesmerizes audiences with her shape-shifting character play, sinuous grace, and rich, hypnotic voice. Okpokwasili is making visible the aspects of black womanhood that have been left out of dominant cultural narratives and evoking in audiences a profound sense of empathy for the pain, resilience, fears, and desires that each of her gestures makes manifest.

Watch her video below:

The MacArthur Fellows Program is intended to encourage people of outstanding talent to pursue their own creative, intellectual, and professional inclinations. In keeping with this purpose, the Foundation awards fellowships directly to individuals rather than through institutions. Recipients may be writers, scientists, artists, social scientists, humanists, teachers, entrepreneurs, or those in other fields, with or without institutional affiliations. They may use their fellowship to advance their expertise, engage in bold new work, or, if they wish, to change fields or alter the direction of their careers.

Check out the full list of 2018 Fellows HERE.

Photo Credit: John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

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