Links Hall: Okwui Okpokwasili

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Bronx Gothic

Presented by DCASE as part of the OnEDge Series in partnership with Links Hall
3111 N. Western Avenue
Feb 19-20 @ 7pm Okwui Okpokwasili
February 21 Workshop TBD
Free; Reserve tickets here


Okwui Okpokwasili is a New York-based writer, performer and choreographer. In partnership with collaborator Peter Born, Okpokwasili creates multidisciplinary projects. Their first New York production, Pent-Up: A Revenge Dance premiered at Performance Space 122 and received a 2010 New York Dance and Performance “Bessie” Award for Outstanding Production; an immersive installation version was featured in the 2008 Prelude Festival. Their second collaboration, Bronx Gothic, won a 2014 New York Dance and Performance “Bessie” Award for Outstanding Production and continues to tour nationally and internationally. In June of 2014, they presented an installation entitled Bronx Gothic: The Oval as part of the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s River to River Festival. Their current project in development is Poor People’s TV Room, an early iteration of which was presented by Lincoln Center in the David Rubinstein Atrium in June 2014.

As a performer, Okpokwasili frequently collaborates with award-winning director Ralph Lemon, including How Can You Stay in the House All Day and Not Go Anywhere?; Come home Charley Patton (for which she also won a New York Dance and Performance “Bessie” Award); a duet performed at The Museum of Modern Art as part of On Line: Drawing Through the Twentieth Century; and, most recently, Ralph Lemon’s Scaffold Room. She has appeared as an actor in many productions, including Nora Chipaumire’s Miriam; Julie Taymor’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream; Kristin Marting’s Sounding; Young Jean Lee’s LEAR; Richard Foreman’s Maria del Bosco; Richard Maxwell’s Cowboys and Indians; and Joan Dark (The Goodman Theater/The Linz European Capital of Culture). Film credits include Malorie’s Final Score, Knut Åsdam’s Abyss, The Interpreter, The Hoax and I Am Legend.

Okpokwasili‘s residencies and awards include The French American Cultural Exchange (2006-2007); Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography Choreographic Fellowship (2012); Baryshnikov Arts Center Artist-in-Residence (2013), NewYork Live Arts Studio Series (2013); Under Construction at the Park Avenue Armory (2013); New York Foundation for the Arts’ Fellowship in Choreography (2013); Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Extended Life Program (2014-15); The Foundation for Contemporary Arts’ artist grant in dance (2014), BRIClab (2015), Columbia University (2015), the Rauschenberg Residency (2015) and has been named the New York Live Arts Resident Commissioned Artist (2015).
Peter Born is a director, designer and filmmaker. In addition to his work with Okpokwasili, he is currently collaborating with David Thomson on a cycle of installation/performances revolving around a post-sexual incarnation of Venus, happening throughout 2015-16. He designed and created the set for Nora Chipaumire’s rite/riot, and he has created performance videos with Chipaumire, Thomson and Daria Fain among others. He works as an art director and prop stylist for video and photo projects with clients such as Vogue, Estee Lauder, Barney’s Co-op, Bloomingdales, Old Navy, “25” magazine, Northrup Grumman and The Wall Street Journal, with collaborators including Kanye West, Barnaby Roper, Santiago and Mauricio Sierra, Quentin Jones and NoStringsUS Puppet Productions. He is a former New York public high school teacher, an itinerant floral designer, corporate actor-facilitator and furniture designer. His collaborations with Okwui Okpokwasili have garnered two New York Dance and Performance “Bessie” Awards.


A solo creation at the intersection of theater, dance and visual art installation, Bronx Gothic gives palpable force to the charged relationship between two girls on the verge of adolescence in 1980s outer-borough New York City–where Newports are bought in singles at corner bodegas, sex saturated notes are passed in class, and Orchard Beach erupts in flame.

Okpokwasili’s performance of psychic and physical collisions threatens to break the body in an unflinching look into the exquisite turbulence of one woman’s memory. Created in collaboration with director and designer Peter Born, Bronx Gothic draws inspiration from Victorian-era novels and West African griot storytelling to reveal a dark and powerful tale of sexual awakening.

Past Press Quotes

See Press Kit, page 5. Download PDF:

Full press reviews also can be downloaded on this page:

“In language that is by turns blunt and poetic, crudely funny and incantatory, Ms. Okpokwasili conjures and probes this adolescent friendship, a jumble of insults, anger and love…A magnetic performer” (The New York Times).

Bronx Gothic was co-commissioned by Performance Space 122, Danspace Project, LMCC and a 50th Anniversary Grant from the Jerome Foundation. Residency support was provided by Under Construction at the Park Avenue Armory; New York Live Arts; Baryshnikov Arts Center; and LMCC’s Extended Life Dance Development program. Additional commissioning support was provided by Le Mallion in Strasbourg; Théâtre de Gennevilliers in Paris; Theatre Garonne in Toulouse; and Zagrebačko Kazalište Mladih (ZMK), the Zagreb Youth Theatre in Zagreb, Croatia.
An early iteration was shown in the Platform Series: Parallels 2012 curated by Ishmael Houston-Jones at Danspace Project. The full version of Bronx Gothic premiered at PS 122’s 2014 COIL Festival, where it enjoyed a sold-out two week run. The piece was later presented by ShowBox in Los Angeles; it also toured to Zagreb, Croatia, and throughout France. Another iteration, Bronx Gothic: The Oval, was a featured installation and performance at the 2014 River-to-River Festival in New York.
The 15-16 tour of Bronx Gothic is produced by MAPP International Productions. Bronx Gothic is a recipient of the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project Touring Award, with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, with additional support from the National Endowment for the Arts.

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