Bessie Award-winning, Gender nonconforming/trans interdisciplinary artist and writer, Ni’Ja Whitson has been referred to as “majestic” and “magnetic” by The New York Times and is recognized by Brooklyn Magazine as a culture influencer. Whitson is a 2018 MAP Fund recipient, the featured choreographer of the 2018 CCA Biennial, and 2018-2019 UBW Choreographic Center Fellow Candidate. Other recent awards include a Camargo/Jerome Foundation Fellowship, Dance in Process (DiP) Residency, Hedgebrook Fellowship, LMCC Process Space Residency, Bogliasco Fellowship, Brooklyn Arts Exchange Artist Residency, two time Creative Capital “On Our Radar” award including being in its inaugural group, among dozens of other residencies and awards across disciplines.
Whitson has been a student and practitioner of indigenous African ritual and resistance forms for two decades, creating work that reflects the sacred in architectures, conceptual, and interdisciplinary performance. They engage a nexus of postmodern and African Diasporic performance practices, through a critical intersection of gender, sexuality, race, and spirituality. Working internationally, creative efforts include collaborations and performance in theater, dance, music, and visual art with artists including Jaamil Kosoko, Cynthia Oliver, Sharon Bridgforth, Dianne McIntyre, La Pocha Nostra, and Baba Israel. A noted innovating practitioner of the Theatrical Jazz Aesthetic and accomplished improviser Whitson performs nationally with renowned musicians and enjoys a close collaborative partnership with Douglas R. Ewart of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians. Ensembles have included Oliver Lake, JD Parran, Matt Shipp, Edward Wilkerson Jr., Mankwe Ndosi, Tatsu Aoki, and Joseph Jarmon.
Whitson’s award winning practice extends to choreography, directing, and dramaturgy in conventional and experimental theater with leaders including Charlotte Braithwaite, Regina Taylor, Susan Watson Turner, Emily Mendelsohn, Virginia Grise, Daniel Alexander Jones, and the collaborative team Byron Au Yong and Aaron Jafferis. Recent Commissions and residencies include EMPAC, Danspace Project at St. Marks Church, Harlem Stage, LaMaMa Moves! Festival, Vision Festival, PRELUDE Festival.
photo © Maggie Shannon
The Unarrival Experiments and Oba Qween Baba King Baba together are a technological and interdisciplinary performance diptych, comprised of two interconnected and individual works that explore “the vaporous body”: an inquiry into Blackness, astral geographies, shapeshifting technologics of space and indigeneity, and futurity. The two works manifest these ideas uniquely, the first: Oba Qween Baba King Baba, looks at non-binarism in sight, body, African spiritualities, and religious sites/architecture, while the second: The Unarrival Experiments excavates the vaporous body as a map and the diptych themes as performative and technological inquiry.