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About Tamara

Tamara Williams is an Assistant Professor of Dance at UNC Charlotte. She earned her MFA in Dance from Hollins University in collaboration with The American Dance Festival, The Forsythe Company, and Frankfurt University. Her choreography has been performed nationally and internationally including Serbia, Switzerland, Trinidad & Tobago, Jamaica, Mexico and in Brazil. In 2011, Williams created Moving Spirits, Inc., a contemporary arts organization dedicated to performing, researching, documenting, cultivating, and producing arts of the African Diaspora.

Williams has trained intensely in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil in Silvestre Technique and African Brazilian dance. She is a 2012 recipient of the Artist Residency Fellowship at the Dance & Performance Institute in Trinidad, a 2013 recipient of the Harlem Stage/Aaron Davis Hall Fund for New Work grant, and a 2014 and 2015 Community Arts Fund Grantee by the Brooklyn Arts Council. In 2015, Moving Spirits, Inc. was accepted as Company-in-Residence at the Jamaica Center for Arts & Leadership in Jamaica, Queens. Williams was a 2015 and 2017 Turkey Land Grove Foundation recipient in which she participated in two seven-day dance writing residency in Martha’s Vineyard, and a 2015 Fall Space Grant recipient, awarded by the Brooklyn Arts Exchange. She is a recipient of a Digital Making Grant from the College of Arts and Architecture and several Mini-Diversity Grants and Chancellor Diversity Grants from UNC Charlotte’s Diversity Fund. She also received two Faculty Research Grants to further her studies of African American ring shout traditions in the Carolina’s low country and its roots in I???e l’agba traditions of the Yorùbá people in Nigeria. Williams has received several Culture Block grants from Mecklenburg County’s Arts and Science Council to offer free African Diaspora dance and music programming for communities around Charlotte.

Williams’ book, Giving Life to Movement (2021, McFarland Publishing Co.), analyzes African-Brazilian dance histories and cultures. Her manuscript, The African Diaspora and Civic Responsibility: Addressing Social Justice through the Arts, Education and Community Engagement, is currently under contract with Lexington Books. This latter text investigates how African American, African-Brazilian, Haitian, and Latine artists and scholars address civic responsibility and social justice issues through the arts. Her article “Reviving Culture Through Ring Shout” was published in The Dancer-Citizen and it investigates Ring Shout dance traditions created by enslaved African in the United States. Her book chapter “Dance: A Catalyst for Spiritual Transcendence” is forthcoming in the book, Fire Under My Feet: History, Race & Agency in African Diaspora Dance, under contract by Routledge. Williams has presented peer-reviewed papers at the Popular Culture/American Culture Association conference in San Diego and the Association for the Study of the Worldwide African Diaspora (ASWAD) conference in Seville, Spain.

Williams’ research on African American Ring Shout traditions has been disseminated at several colleges and universities including The Florida State University, Arizona State University, Spelman College, Appalachian State University, Davidson College, Miami-Dade College, Slippery Rock University, College of the Holy Cross, Bard Early College, Mercyhurst College, The University of South Carolina and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She has created several community programs in New York City and Charlotte, NC providing opportunities for underserved communities to learn and practice dances of the African diaspora; histories and cultures which are strategically neglected in US education systems.

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