Virtual event recorded March 16, 2022
Countess V. Winfrey is the choreographer of Homage: What was, Is, To Come – new dance work that brings light to the Black experience of the past and present, and the dream of a Black Future in the Now. In her artist talk, Winfrey pulls back the curtain to her artistic process, sharing insight into the paths that led her to this project and into the ideas that continue to animate her work as a choreographer.
Virtual event recorded March 16, 2022
OhioDance board president Rodney Veal joins esteemed arts leaders, April Berry, Chiquita Mullins Lee, and Tamara Williams for this conversation about responding to Requests for Proposals across arts disciplines. The panelists share their experiences, observations, and advice from the adjudicators’ side.
April Berry, dance director, master teacher, educator, and former internationally acclaimed principal dancer with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, was born and raised in Queens New York. She began her professional training in ballet at the National Academy of Ballet and Theatre Arts in New York City under the founding direction of Thalia Mara, also founder of the prestigious International Ballet Competition in Jackson, Mississippi. Berry was a company apprentice with the Dance Theatre of Harlem under directors Arthur Mitchell and Karel Shook and has danced with ballet companies in the United States, Switzerland, and Italy. She studied modern dance techniques and jazz dance at the Ailey School in New York and has worked closely with many of the most celebrated choreographers and dance artists of the 20th century. Berry has danced the signature works of choreographers from the world of ballet, modern, contemporary, and jazz dance.
Berry was awarded a research grant while teaching at Denison University in Ohio to study African Caribbean folkloric and popular dance forms at the Escuela Nacional des Arts (National School of the Arts) in Havana, Cuba. She is honored to be one of the worlds few certified master teachers of Dunham technique, having successfully completed all certification requirements following extensive work with American dance pioneer, Dr. Katherine Dunham. Berry has served on the boards of OhioDance and the Greater Columbus Arts Council and as Director of Education and Community Programs at BalletMet Columbus in Ohio and at North Carolina Dance Theatre in Charlotte, NC.
Berry was Founding Chair of Dance/USA’s nationwide Community Engagement and Education Directors Affinity Group and is current Director of Community Engagement and Education at Kansas City Ballet, and faculty member in the Kansas City Ballet Academy.
Chiquita Mullins Lee is an Arts Learning coordinator at the Ohio Arts Council where she manages the Arts Partnership and Big Yellow School Bus grant programs. She also coordinates Ohio’s Poetry Out Loud National Recitation Contest. Chiquita has served as the chair and Midwest regional coordinator for the Arts Education Working Group, in association with the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, and has served on the Arts Education review panel for the National Endowment for the Arts. Involved in local theater, Chiquita writes and performs with Wild Women Writing and leads Word Warriors creative writing ministry at New Covenant Believers Church. She won individual artist excellence awards in fiction, non-fiction, and playwriting from the Greater Columbus Arts Council and the Ohio Arts Council. Her nonfiction, fiction, and poetry have appeared in l literary journals and her work is featured on the PBS American Portrait project.
Rodney Veal is an independent choreographer and interdisciplinary artist who serves as adjunct faculty and Career Community Coordinator for Sinclair Community College. He is a graduate of Eastern Michigan University with a BS in Political Science and Visual Arts and received his MFA in Choreography from The Ohio State University. Veal currently serves as president on the OhioDance Board of Trustees and additionally serves on the boards of Levitt Pavilions Dayton, HomeFull, WYSO, and Dayton Live. He can be seen as the host of the Emmy Award winning television series The Art Show on Think TV & CETCONNECT.
Tamara Williams, Assistant Professor, University of North Carolina at Charotte, earned her MFA from Hollins University. Her choreography has been presented internationally in Serbia, Switzerland, Trinidad, Jamaica, Mexico, and Brazil. Moving Spirits, Inc., is Williams’s contemporary arts organization dedicated to performing, researching, documenting, and producing African Diaspora arts. Her scholarly work includes Giving Life to Movement: The Silvestre Dance Technique, "Reviving Culture Through Ring Shout" published in The Dancer-Citizen, and The African Diaspora and Civic Responsibility (forthcoming).
A native of Nashville, Winfrey is in her seventh season working with Dayton Contemporary Dance Company (DCDC). She currently serves as professional dancer, teaching artist, choreographer, and rehearsal director for the company. Winfrey has taught and choreographed at institutions including Oyo Dance Company (Columbus), the School of the Creative and Performing Arts (Cincinnati), The Ohio State University, Miami University, The University of Memphis, and The International Association of Blacks in Dance Conference. Her career highlights include performing at the Bolshoi Theater (Moscow) and at Lincoln Center (New York) for Donald McKayle’s memorial performance. She has toured nationally and internationally, and has performed works by choreographers including Ulysses Dove, Donald McKayle, Ray Mercer, Dwight Rhoden, Ronald K. Brown, Dianne McIntyre, and Donald Byrd.
This engagement is supported by the Arts Midwest GIG Fund, a program of Arts Midwest that is funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, with additional contributions from Ohio Arts Council.
The Black Futures Series is supported by: