Baryshnikov Arts Center Resident Artist

Okwui Okpokwasili

Theater artist Okwui Okpokwasili will develop Bronx Gothic, a work drawing from the burgeoning sexual awareness and misadventures of two eleven-year-old girls in the Bronx. Creating a narrative through movement, song, and letters, the central character, an urban griot, delivers a gothic tale through her charged brown body. 

Okwui Okpokwasili
Artist Bio

Okwui Okpokwasili

The first iteration of Okwui Okpokwasili’s Bronx Gothic was presented in a shared evening in the Platform 2012: Parallels series at Danspace Project. She continued to develop the piece as a choreographic fellow at the Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography in November of 2012 and received developmental support through the Studio Series Artist program at New York Live Arts, the Under Construction series at the Park Avenue Armory, and as a participant in LMCC’s Extended Life Program. 

An extended, evening length iteration of Bronx Gothic has been co-commissioned by Performance Space 122 and Danspace Project and will premiere in Performance Space 122’s COIL festival in January 2014.

Okpokwasili’s previous piece, Pent-Up: A Revenge Dance premiered at Performance Space 122 and received a 2010 New York Dance and Performance (“Bessie”) Award. Her work in multidisciplinary performance is best exemplified by her ongoing artistic collaboration with Ralph Lemon, the Bessie Award winning Artistic Director of Cross Performance. After completing the 2010 tour of Lemon’s How Can You Stay…, she performed an extended duet with Lemon in the Atrium at MOMA in conjunction with  the exhibit, On Line: Drawing Through the Twentieth Century. Okpokwasili also received a Bessie Award for her performance in the final part of Ralph Lemon’s Geography Trilogy, Come Home, Charley Patton. Okpokwasili performed in the Dean Moss and Laylah Ali collaboration, Figures on a Field, which premiered at the Kitchen and went on to MassMOCA. In 2006 she received residency support from 651 Arts’ as part of their Artist Development Initiative and was then selected with Ralph Lemon for a FUSED- French US Exchange in Dance residency, where she continued to develop Pent-Up: a revenge dance at Centre National de la Danse in Pantin, Paris. Okpokwasili is currently on tour with Nora Chipaumire in Miriam, which had its New York premiere at BAM Fisher in the 2012 Next Wave Festival.

Select theater credits include: “Leda” in SOUNDING directed by Kristin Marting at HERE Arts Center, “Goneril” in Young Jean Lee’s LEAR at Soho Rep, “Joan” in Joan Dark co-produced by The Goodman Theater and the Linz 2009 European Capital of Culture, “Long Legged Ballerina” in Richard Foreman’s Maria Del Bosco, “Madame Laramie” in Richard Maxwell’s Cowboys and Indians. Film roles include “Kim” in Stephan Littger’s Malorie’s Final Score, “O” in Knut Asdam’s ABYSS, “Malika” in Lasse Hallstrom’s 2006 release The Hoax and CGI stuntwork as one of the infected in Will Smith’s I Am Legend.

Okpokwasili is a graduate of Yale University. 

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