Wesleyan portrait of Joya  Powell

Joya Powell

Assistant Professor of the Practice in Dance

Assistant Professor of the Practice, African American Studies


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BA Columbia University
MA New York University

Joya Powell

A multiethnic Harlemite, Joya Powell is a Bessie Award winning Choreographer and Educator passionate about community, activism, and dances of the African Diaspora. Hailed by The New York Times as a “radiant performer,” throughout her career she has danced with choreographers such as Paloma McGregor, Katiti King, Nicole Stanton, Neta Pulvermacher, and Mar Parrilla. In 2005 Joya founded Movement of the People Dance Company, dedicated to addressing sociocultural injustices through multidisciplinary Afrofuturist immersive contemporary dance. Her work has appeared in venues such as: BAM, Lincoln Center, SummerStage, La Mama, The Bronx Museum of the Arts, The Dance Complex (Cambridge), Mudlark Theater (New Orleans), Movement Research @ Judson Church, The School of Contemporary Dance & Thought (Northampton), York Univeristy (Toronto), , Amnesty International's Human Rights Art Festival/Maryland and NYC, Symphony Space, The 92nd St Y, Gibney Dance: Agnes Varis Performing Arts Center, The Southern Vermont Dance Festival, Center for Performance Research, Dixon Place, The Riverside Theatre, The Casa del Prado Theatre (San Diego), Hammerstein Ballroom, BAAD! among others. Site-responsive performances have included: Dance on the Greenway (commission), chashama/Anita’s Way, INSITU Dance Festival, White Wave's DUMBO Dance Festival, FIGMENT Arts Festival, ChEck Us OuT Dance Festival, and The Outlet Dance Project at the Grounds for Sculpture (New Jersey). In addition to being a performance-based company, MOPDC facilitates community engagements nationally and internationally, and they hold an annual Free Day of Dance and acclaimed Winter Intensive. Joya has choreographed such Off-Broadway plays as: Fit for a Queen by Betty Shamieh (The Classical Theatre of Harlem), JOB by Thomas Bradshaw (The FLEA Theater), Songs About Trains by Beto O’Byrne (The New Ohio Theatre), Ducklings by Amina Henry (The National Black Theater), True Bible Tales by Robert Askins (E. 14th St. Y – The Jewish Plays Project), Are You Not Entertained? by Dennis A. Allen II, The Minstrel Show by Amina Henry (13th St. Theatre). As well as regional theater productions including: The Brothers Size by Tarell Alvin McCraney (Luna Stage, NJ), and Une Tempête by Aimé Césaire (The American Shakespeare Center, VA). Joya has been commissioned twice by ZCO/Dance Project a dance company dedicated to the integration and inclusion of people with disabilities in dance and society. Her chapters "How do you hold when you need to be held?: Dance and the embodied practice of grieving," and "A Grooveology: Reflections on Dance within Your Dance," are featured in Pandemic Performance: Resilience, Liveness, and Protest in Quarantine Times – Routledge, edited by Kendra Capece & Patrick Scorese and in Write Your Future, edited by Pepatián, respectively. Her research led her to teach and study in Brazil, Puerto Rico, Cuba, France and Israel. Awards and recognition include: The 2016 Outstanding Emerging Choreographer Bessie Award, 2016-17 Dancing While Black Fellow, Women in Motion Commissioned Artist 2017-18, EtM Choreographers + Composers Residency 2018-19, Angela’s Pulse’s North Star Arts Incubator 2020-22, CUNY Dance Initiative AIR 2020-22, The Unsettling Dramaturgy Award 2021. She is a collaborating member of Dance Caribbean Collective, Radical Evolution and is a co-leader of Angela’s Pulse’s Dancing While Black. Over the course of her carrier, she has facilitated workshops at various colleges and universities nationwide, shelters, elder care facilities and K-12 schools throughout NYC and primarily the South Bronx. Her research revolves around art as activism, decolonizing dance, performative rituals, the Africanist presence in contemporary dance practices, and “race” relations in the “Americas”.

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By appointment. 


Fall 2024
DANC 374 - 01
Dance of the African Diaspora