7 Up-and-Coming Black Dance Artists Who Should Be On Your Radar
Black History Month offers a time to reflect on the artists who have shaped the dance field as we know it today. But equally important is celebrating the black artists who represent the next generation. These seven up-and-comers are making waves across all kinds of styles and across the country:
Choreographer Davalois Fearon brings high energy and tenacious virtuosity to all her work. Her upcoming Time to Talk unpacks Fearon's research around systemic racism, racial identity, American history and dance history. I've had the opportunity to dance with Fearon as part of Skeleton Architecture, a collective of 20 black women and gender non-conforming artists invested in collective improvisation.
Kara Jenelle is a African and dance hall showstopper currently based in Los Angeles. She has danced for artists like Pharrell Williams, Jidenna, Wiz Kid, Will Smith, Fantasia, Lil Jon and more. You can catch her funky-fabulous choreography in videos like "Panda" and "Shake Body."
Amanda Morgan is a corps de ballet member of Pacific Northwest Ballet who is vocal about how important it is for brown girls to see themselves onstage. She's danced leading roles in Jerome Robbins' West Side Story Suite and Dani Tirrell's Suckle.
Tendayi Kuumba, an Atlanta native turned Brooklynite, is currently bringing her dynamic, earthy movement quality to the world while on tour with Urban Bush Women. She also shines in her work as a singer/songwriter, offering a vintage and jazzy vibe that works its way into your bones.
Tyke the Entertainer
You can try to catch Tyke the Entertainer jammin' somewhere on the NYC subways. You don't know where Tyke and his crew may pop up, but catching them in action is always a surprising treat. What is most impressive is his ability to flip, turn, fly and slide around poles without hitting passengers. His fluidity and control are mesmerizing.
Bronx-based NIC Kay is a performing artist working on transdisciplinary projects throughout the United States and internationally. Their recent autobiographical work Lil Black combines vogue, ballroom, butoh and praise dance to respond to their queerness and gender nonconformity. Up next, NIC Kay is off to Germany to participate in the Queer B-Cademy: Teachings of Post-Academic Knowledge.
Philadelphia and New York-based performer and choreographer Jumatatu Poe's recent Let 'im Move You highlights his research around J-Sette. Poe draws from myriad of styles including J-Sette, African, modern and voguing to create a thoughtful, inclusive and celebratory viewing experience. During this year's American Realness Festival, Poe had audiences up and dancing. The journey was documented with #_move_you_ on Instagram.
I dance to encourage others. The longer I dance, the more I see that much of my real work is to speak life-giving words to my fellow artists. This is a multidimensionally grueling profession. I count it a privilege to remind my colleagues of how they are bringing beauty into the world through their craft. I recently noticed significant artistic growth in a fellow dancer, and when I verbalized what I saw, he beamed. The impact of positive feedback is deeper than we realize.
If you think becoming a trainee or apprentice is the only path to gaining experience in a dance company environment, think again.
The University of Arizona, located in the heart of Tucson, acclimates dancers to the pace and rigor of company life while offering all the academic opportunities of a globally-ranked university. If you're looking to get a head-start on your professional dance career—or to just have a college experience that balances company-level training and repertory with rigorous academics—the University of Arizona's undergraduate and graduate programs have myriad opportunites to offer:
Yes, we realize it's only August. But we can't help but to already be musing about all the incredible dance happenings of 2019.
We're getting ready for our annual Readers' Choice feature, and we want to hear from you about the shows you can't stop thinking about, the dance videos that blew your mind and the artists you discovered this year who everyone should know about.
Social media has made the dance world a lot smaller, giving users instant access to artists and companies around the world. For aspiring pros, platforms like Instagram can offer a tantalizing glimpse into the life of a working performer. But there's a fine line between taking advantage of what social media can offer and relying too heavily on it.