Dance Instructor Honored with Outstanding Emerging Choreographer Award

Instructor Joya Powell

SUNY Old Westbury Adjunct Lecturer of Dance Joya Powell has received the 2016 NY Dance and Performance Award for Outstanding Emerging Choreographer for her inspiring and daring racially-charged work. The Bessie Award committee, who presented the award at the October 18, 2016 ceremony, recognized her for “passionate choreographic engagement with issues of justice and race” and for her ability to deeply connect with audiences.

“Professor Powell brings her passion and energy into the classroom at Old Westbury where she teaches ‘Culturally Diverse Language of Dance,’ which directly aligns not only with the College’s mission, but her choreographic style on stage,” said Visual Arts Chair Patricia Harris. “It’s an honor having a Bessie Award-winning artist working with our students to have these powerful conversations through different mediums including dance.”

Described by The New York Times as a "radiant performer," Powell is dedicated and passionate about dance, her community, and social change. Powell is the Founding Director of Movement of the People Dance Company, whose mission is to interpret social issues, movements, and inspiration through dance. They work to compose different cultures in their dance, formulate socially-conscious choreography, and find ways for underserved communities to empower themselves through dance.

Powell earned her master’s in dance education from New York University, and her bachelor’s in Latin American studies and creative writing from Columbia University. In addition to her adjunct role at Old Westbury that she has held since 2015, Powell is currently part of the Artistic Resource Group for The FLEA Theatre, a collaborating member of Dance Caribbean Collective, a choreographic collaborator of Table Theatre, and is a Stage Directors and Choreographers 2016-2017 fellow.

Produced in partnership with Dance/NYC, the NY Dance and Performance Awards have saluted outstanding and groundbreaking creative work by independent dance artists in New York City for 30 years. Known as “The Bessie” in honor of revered dance teacher Bessie Schonberg, the awards were established in 1983 by David White at Dance Theater Workshop. They recognize exceptional work in choreography, performance, music composition and visual design.

Photo Credit: Anna Kuzmina