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Leading Woman in the Arts 2022: Okwui Okpokwasili

Sunday, October 2, 2022 - 4:30pm

Gamble Auditorium

Join us in honoring Mount Holyoke’s 2022 Leading Woman in the Arts, Okwui Okpokwasili.


Sunday, October 2: Keynote
4:30pm Gamble Auditorium
Free and open to the public

Monday, October 3: Student Workshop
11:30am Dance Studio Theater, Kendall
* Space for this event is limited. Registration will be required. Registration will open on September 22 via Embark for Mount Holyoke students

Monday, October 3: Student Mentoring Luncheon
1:00pm Willits Hallowell
* Space for this event is limited. Registration will be required. Registration will open on September 22 via Embark for Mount Holyoke students

Okwui Okpokwasili is a Brooklyn based performer, choreographer and writer creating multidisciplinary performance pieces. 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 highly experimental productions include "Bessie" Award winning Pent-Up: A Revenge Dance, "Bessie" Award winning Bronx Gothic, Bronx Gothic: The Oval, Poor People's TV Room, Poor People's TV Room Solo, When I Return Who Will Receive Me, and Adaku's Revolt. Recent works include installations in the exhibitions: “Grief and Grievance, Art and Mourning in America” at the New Museum, “Witchhunt” at The Hammer Museum in LA, “Sex Ecologies” at Kunsthall Trondheim in Norway. Commissions include the performance “On the way, undone” at the Highline in NYC and at Weeksville Heritage Center in Brooklyn as part of FIAF’s Crossing the Line Festival, the film “Returning” for Danspace Project, and the site specific performances “Swallow the Moon” at Jacob’s Pillow. She was recently on Broadway as the “Lady in Green” in the acclaimed revival of “For Colored Girls…”

She has worked with film and theater directors: Carrie Mae Weems, Ralph Lemon, Camille A. Brown, Arthur Jafa, Terence Nance, Josephine Decker, Mika Rottenberg, Mahyad Tousi, Charlotte Brathwaite, Jim Findlay, Annie Dorsen and Peter Born. She has worked at the newly re-invisioned Flea Theater, the Public, TFANA, Soho Rep, HERE Arts Center, and the Kitchen.

Okpokwasili’s residencies and awards include The French American Cultural Exchange (2006-2007); Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography Choreographic Fellowship (2012); Baryshnikov Arts Center Artist-in-Residence (2013); New York Live Arts Studio Series (2013); Under Construction at the Park Avenue Armory (2013); New York Foundation for the Arts’ Fellowship in Choreography (2013); Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Extended Life Program (2014-17, 2019-20); ICPP at Wesleyan (2015), The Foundation for Contemporary Arts’ artist grant in dance (2014); BRIClab (2015); Columbia University (2015), the Rauschenberg Residency (2015), UNC Chapel Hill CPA Fellow. Okpokwasili was the 2015-2017 Randjelovic/Stryker New York Live Arts Resident Commissioned Artist (RCA.) She was a 2018 Princeton University Hodder Fellow, a 2018 Herb Alpert Awardee in Dance, an Antonyo Awardee, a 2018 Doris Duke Artist Awardee, and a 2018 MacArthur Fellow. Okpokwasili is a graduate of Yale University. She is currently the inaugural artist for the Kravis Studio Residency program at MOMA.

The Leading Women in the Arts Series, launched in 2006, is organized collaboratively by Mount Holyoke’s Weissman Center for Leadership and the InterArts Council. This engaging program reflects the center's support of public presentations by scholars, artists, writers, and practitioners who connect the academic work of the college with the public sphere.