Department of Dance


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Ni'Ja Whitson

Ni'Ja Whitson

Assistant Professor
Office: Arts 106

Ni'Ja Whitson (MFA) is a gnc interdisciplinary artist, Bessie award winning performer, and writer who has been referred to as "majestic" and "magnetic" by The New York Times, and is recognized by Brooklyn Magazine as a culture influencer. Whitson has been a student and practitioner of indigenous African ritual and resistance forms for nearly two decades, creating work that reflects the sacred in street, conceptual, and interdisciplinary performance.  They engage a nexus of postmodern and African Diasporic performance practices, workshop/healing facilitation through a critical intersection of gender, sexuality, race, and spirit.

Working internationally, creative efforts include collaborations and performance in theater, dance, music, and visual art with artists including Cynthia Oliver, Jaamil Olawale Kosoko, Sharon Bridgforth, Allison Knowles, La Pocha Nostra, Marjani Forté-Saunders, 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 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 rich, transdisciplinary practice extends to choreography, directing, and dramaturgy in conventional and experimental theatre with artists such as Dianne McIntyre, Regina Taylor, Susan Watson-Turner, Daniel Alexander Jones, and Byron Au Yong and Aaron Jafferis.

Recent commissions and residencies include DiP at Gibney Dance, Hedgebrook, LMCC Process Space, Bogliasco Fellowship in Genoa Italy, Brooklyn Arts Exchange, Danspace Project at St. Marks Church, Vision Festival, ICA Philadelphia.  Recent funding for their work includes the Mertz Gilmore Foundation and Jerome Foundation Individual Artist Grant. Ni'Ja Whitson is the artistic director/founder of The NWA Project.

More Information 

General Campus Information

University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92521
Tel: (951) 827-1012

Department Information

Department of Dance
121 Arts Building

Tel: (951) 827-3944
Fax: (951) 827-4651

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