Nigerian-American Choreographer Awarded $625k MacArthur ‘Genius’ Grant

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Okwui Okpokwasili, Nigerian choreographer and performer, was among the 25 individuals from across the world to be awarded a MacArthur Foundation fellow.

The prestigious fellowship is popularly known as “genius grants”.

Okpokwasili, 46, joins other Nigerian creatives like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Njideka Crosby Akunyili, who have received the award in the past.

A multi-disciplinary performer whose work intersects with theatre, dance and art,Okpokwasili is the child of immigrants in the US.

She was born and raised in the Bronx, New York. She holds a degree from Yale University and is currently a Hodder Fellow at Princeton University Lewis Center for the Arts.

Some of her works explore protests through performative visual art and have referenced the #BringBackOurGirls movement and also the 1929 Aba women’s riot.

Okpokwasili choreographed and danced in themusic video for Jay-Z’s 2017 confessional album, ‘4.44’.

She was recognised by the MacArthur Foundation for “making visible the interior lives of women whose stories of resistance and resilience have been left out of dominant cultural narratives”.


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