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Why Okwui Okpokwasili Won't Call Herself a Dancer

Mena Burnette of xmbphotography, courtesy Okpokwasili

It seems like everyone in New York's experimental dance scene is talking about Okwui Okpokwasili right now. Her multidisciplinary work Poor People's TV Room is in the middle of a much buzzed-about two-week run at New York Live Arts.

But although the dance world loves her, Okpokwasili is hesitant to call herself a dancer. In a story about dance theater in Dance Magazine's May issue, she told this to writer Siobhan Burke:


"I have a deep love and appreciation for dancers. And because of that, sometimes I'll call myself a mover, because I feel like dancers are saints. They work so hard, they take classes, they don't get health insurance. Their ability to come into the unknown and commit to multiple languages without question—I find it so generous and beautiful. I don't know that I'm that generous. People can't just walk around calling themselves a dancer."

Even though she's very humble, many would definitely consider what she's doing bonafide dancing. Check out her intense, otherwordly virtuosity in a section from Poor People's TV Room, shot for The New York Times' #SpeakingInDance series.


The Conversation
Rant & Rave

I was on my favorite treadmill when it happened.

My best running buddy was on my left. To my right, a total stranger with whom I'd suddenly become competitive. As the 15-person group headed into a two-minute push, the instructor got hyped, and the remix blasting Rihanna's "We Found Love" transitioned to "Smooth Criminal."

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Advice for Dancers
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I caught a bug that's going around and have a runny nose, cough, sore throat and no energy. Is this a cold or the flu? I want to dance but wonder if performing is a smart idea. Any advice?

—Achoo!, Brooklyn, NY

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