Chris Gray Memorial Lecture-On Becoming: A Neo-African Performance Architect By Dr. S. Ama Wray

Event information
Venue:WUC Ballrooms, FIU Biscayne Bay Campus

Please scroll past the flyer to read the guest speaker's biography. This event is free and open to the public. For more information, please call 305-348-6860. Thank you.


Dr. S. Ama Wray

Dr. Wray, Associate Professor of Dance at the University of California, Irvine, describes herself as a ‘Neo-African Performance Architect.’ In 2018 S. Ama Wray, PhD, was recognized by the Comparative & International Education Society, receiving one of four African Diaspora Emerging Scholars Awards. She received her PhD from the University of Surrey; her dissertation is entitled, “Towards Embodiology: Modelling Relations between West African Performance Practices, Contemporary Dance Improvisation and Seselelame.” As a result of her interdisciplinary scholarship engaging with dance, music and community-held knowledge, she continues to develop her praxis of Embodiology® . A new essay on this subject titled "Embodiology®: A Neo-African Improvisation-as-Performance Practice, distinguished by Dynamic Rhythm," is forthcoming in The Oxford Handbook of Improvisation in Dance, edited by Vida Midgelow, and Routledge published an introductory iteration of its grounding concepts in a chapter entitled, "Just after the Pulse, Rhythm Takes All: The Inside Habitat of Improvisation," in British Dance, Black Routes, edited by Christy Adair and Ramsay Burt (2016). Further dissemination of the praxis, demonstrating how movement inspires the mind, is evident in her TEDx Talk, “Bodily Steps to Innovation.” In January 2018 she launched the Africana Institute for Creativity, Recognition and Elevation (AICRE) at UCI, supported by Professor Ngugi wa Thiong’o and Dr. Tiffany Willoughby-Herard. With a mission to “create a dynamic exchange of cultural, scientific, economic and spiritual knowledge between local communities and academia to positively impact the next generation, so that people of African descent can equitably contribute towards a more sustainable society and command respect worldwide.”

In the UK she was a leading member of premier dance companies: London Contemporary Dance Theatre and Rambert Dance Company; moreover she is also widely known for her role as performer and custodian of Harmonica Breakdown (1938), choreographed by Jane Dudley. She also founded JazzXchange Music and Dance Company, collaborating with musicians including Wynton Marsalis, Gary Crosby, Zoe Rahman and Julian Joseph. Later, her improvisation praxis also reached into digital domains, when her National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts Fellowship produced the award- winning Texterritory, an interactive cell phone based performance platform created in collaboration with Fleeta Siegel (280 words) Additionally, she has directed African-centered physical theater plays by activist playwright/performer Mojisola Adebayo. Muhammad Ali and Me and Moj of the Antarctic toured both the UK and Southern Africa.