Nigerian-American artist Okwui Okpokwasili uses her body like an instrument. Drawing on the storytelling elements of West African Griot poets, the Igbo choreographer works at what she calls the intersection of dance, theater, art practices, and sound. Okpokwasili’s experimental productions bring together elements of the visual arts and dance, and include Poor People’s TV Room and the well-known piece Bronx Gothic, a 90-minute performance “in which audiences can engage with a story about two 12-year-old black girls coming of age in the 1980s.”
For her work that focuses on the interior live of women of color, she’s received many accolades but probably none as prestigious as the MacArthur Genius Award which she won in 2018.
“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,” says the MacArthur website.