All posts by: ShaniJamila

Join us for the opening event of Dancing While Black’s 10th Anniversary Year

DWB’s 10th anniversary season opens with Sankofa story circles! Shani is honored to have been invited to serve as a Seed Storyteller. The Anniversary year’s co-choreographers have invited a group of visionary artists who have engaged with Dancing While Black through its ten year journey to facilitate this event. Story Circles are a democratic process of storytelling created by John O’Neal of the Free Southern Theater, the predecessor of Dancing While Black’s New Orleans partner, Junebug Productions. Audio description will be available during this event.

Dancing While Black: Sankofa Story Circles

Sunday, May 22, 2022, 2:00pm ET

@ BAAD! The Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance
2474 Westchester Avenue, Bronx, NY 10461 (Westchester Square)

Since 2012, Dancing While Black (DWB) has served as a launching pad and community hub, bringing Black dance voices to the fore and centering a space for them to reflect and create authentically. Throughout that time, they’ve supported 22 emerging Black artists as Fellows, incubated more than two dozen works and held countless convenings.

Creative Capital and its expert reviewers and panelists have the great privilege of seeing and learning about a wealth of exciting artists’ projects each grant cycle. The 2022 Shortlist features remarkable new projects in the visual arts, performing arts, technology, film, literature, and socially engaged art in all forms that advanced to the final round in the national selection process. Lineage is highlighted in the visual arts section under the multimedia and painting categories.

For the past couple of months, Shani has been working on the production, co-curation, and management of Dance/NYC’s 2022 Symposium: Life cycles. Livelihoods. Legacies., which focuses on uncovering the generational continuum of lives in dance. The symposium will serve hundreds of participants from throughout the performing arts sector– artists, workers, educators, funders and organizers– who prioritize artmaking as essential and recognize its role in centering our humanity, especially in these challenging times.

As the only regional gathering of its kind, this convening offers a meeting place for the dance field to exchange ideas, expand networks, sharpen organizational practices, and deepen the inquiry around New York City’s legacy and trajectory of dance making.

This three-day virtual event, which will run from March 17-19, includes interactive workshops, expert consultations, sponsor placements, a community bulletin board, a virtual service fair, and live-streamed panel discussions with more than 100 leading artists and facilitators. All sessions will include ASL interpretation and closed captions. For more about the speakers, organizers, and mission of this important work please visit www.dance.nyc.

Happy new year! As this year fades into our rearview, we’re grateful for Lineage— a series of intimate, in-depth conversations Shani Jamila hosts with fellow contemporary socially engaged Black artists. Each individual episode has been a gift, and the collective is truly exceptional.

This year featured the oral histories of Pulitzer prize winning playwright Lynn Nottage; poet, lawyer and 2021 MacArthur fellow Dwayne Betts; Apollo Theater Executive Producer and director of HBO’s Between the World and Me Kamilah Forbes; choreographer and the first Black woman director at the Metropolitan Opera Camille A. Brown; iconic poets and founders of the Black Arts Movement, Sonia Sanchez and Haki Madhubuti; artists and scholars Dr. Fahamu Pecou and Dr. Aimee Meredith Cox; writer, performer and Vice President at The Kennedy Center Marc Bamuthi Joseph; 2021 Rome Prize winner, painter Firelei Baez; photographer and sculptor Fabiola Jean-Louis; and musicians Jason Moran and Alicia Hall Moran. 

The full archive, which includes the inaugural season, is freely available and publicly accessible on  lineagepodcast.com. While there be sure to check out We Hold These Truths, Shani’s meditative film which features many of the brilliant guests from this current season, and subscribe, rate and review the podcast.

Stay tuned for new episodes in the new year with extraordinary guests including author Kiese Laymon and the renowned artist Carrie Mae Weems. Together, we tell an intergenerational story of what it means to be Black in America.

The Taneya Gethers Muhammad Memorial Scholarship supports young scholar activists at Spelman College. We are so pleased to share that the inaugural recipient of this $25,000 annual award has been selected.

Please join us at 7pm on Tuesday, November 9th for a virtual gathering. You will have the opportunity to meet Shauniece Frazier, the very first student to benefit from this initiative. In addition, we are so pleased to welcome a very special guest to help us mark this moment– writer and theorist adrienne maree brown.

brown is a writer living in Detroit, a student of the works of Octavia E. Butler and Ursula K. LeGuin. Grievers is her first novel. Her previous books include Octavia’s Brood, Emergent Strategy, Pleasure Activism and We Will Not Cancel Us. After sharing excerpts from her new novella, she will be in conversation with our own Dr. Ruha Benjamin, author and professor of African American Studies at Princeton University.

This event is free to attend, but you must register to receive the link. We look forward to celebrating this remarkable milestone with you next Tuesday!

About the Scholarship

The Taneya Gethers Muhammad Memorial Scholarship aims to support the academic pursuits of students who are in the tradition of alumnae whose legacies she studied, such as Pearl Cleage, Varnette Honeywood, Alice Walker, Marian Wright Edelman and Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon, as well as student movement leaders like Lenora Taitt, Gwendolyn Middlebrooks, Herschelle Sullivan Challenoir, Roslyn Pope and Zoharah Simmons.

A scholarship in the amount of $25,000 will be awarded annually to a Spelman student with a demonstrated commitment to scholar activism.

Lineage is a collection of conversations, hosted by Shani Jamila, with the very best socially engaged Black artists of our time. Many of the participants are recipients of the prestigious MacArthur genius grants– an “unrestricted fellowship to talented individuals who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction.”


Already in the archive you can find episodes with MacArthur fellows including musician Jason Moran and performer Okwui Okpokwasili. Stay tuned for Shani’s upcoming interviews with Season Two guests playwright Lynn Nottage and artist Carrie Mae Weems. And now, with the recent announcement of the newest class of fellows, those numbers went up! HUGE congratulations to the 2021 class of MacArthur geniuses, which now includes choreographer Jawole Willa Jo Zollar as well as writer Reginald Dwayne Betts.


Jawole, the featured guest in Lineage’s Season One finale episode, is the founding artistic director and chief visioning partner of the Urban Bush Women performance ensemble. Designated a Master of Choreography by the John F. Kennedy Performing Arts Center, she received the Bessies Lifetime Achievement Award and honorary degrees from both Tufts University and Rutgers University.


Dwayne is a poet and lawyer whose latest collection of poems, Felon, won the 2020 American Book Award and the NAACP Image Award. Fresh to the press, you can listen to exclusive stories about what he’s up to now on lineagepodcast.com.

We want to conclude with a special shoutout to curator and friend of the show Dr. Nicole Fleetwood, who also received this special honor.

Be sure to subscribe, rate and review Lineage wherever you get your podcasts! Through the voices of the most extraordinary artists of our time, we tell an intergenerational story of what it means to be Black in America.

Shani is proud to be an advisor for the Smithsonian Anthology of Hip-Hop and Rap, a thoroughly researched and thoughtfully curated set of nine CDs, eleven scholarly essays and a 300-page coffee table book that acts as an extension of the museum’s permanent collections. The project was produced over seven years from launch to completion, with the care and intention befitting the weight and scope of hip-hop’s story.  Its August 2021 launch comes as the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) prepares to celebrate its five-year anniversary, and highlights its ongoing mission to tell the stories of American history through the African American lens. It follows other defining collections from Smithsonian Folkways, the Anthology of American Folk Music and Jazz: The Smithsonian Anthology.

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Many thanks to the Brooklyn Arts Council, who awarded Shani a 2021 grant for her Lineage Podcast + Portrait project. BAC grants support artists whose work enhances the cultural climate of the borough, city, state, and nation. This program is supported by the Greater New York Arts Development Fund of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA) and New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA).

Shani has been cast in a performance of the seminal Ntozake Shange choreopoem For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/ When The Rainbow Is Enuf. This production is directed by Gina Belafonte. Special guests will include Alfre Woodard, Vanessa Williams, CCH Pounder and original Broadway director Oz Scott. Join us! Premiering live on Clubhouse on Saturday, 3.20, at 6pm EST/ 3pm PST. It will reprise in the UN75 Club on 4.17 at 6pm EST.

Launching February 18, 2021— in honor of the birthdays of literary giants Toni Morrison and Audre Lorde– We Hold These Truths is a new meditative film created and curated by conceptual artist Shani Jamila and produced in collaboration with Park Avenue Armory. The film introduces the artists featured in Season Two of Jamila’s Lineage Podcast + Portrait Project, which features intimate, in-depth interviews with contemporary socially engaged Black artists. We Hold These Truths includes inspiring reflections by artists across multiple disciplines, on some of the truths learned from their elders that have rooted them in these challenging times.  Watch now for a first glimpse at the new season of Lineage, and stay tuned for bi-weekly audio interviews with each of the featured artists, beginning on Tuesday March 2nd. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Spotify to receive new episodes every other Tuesday.

Announcing the new season of the Lineage Podcast + Portrait Project! Lineage features intimate, in-depth interviews with contemporary socially engaged Black artists. Season Two will include conversations with renowned creatives and thought leaders Firelei Báez, R. Dwayne Betts, Camille A. Brown, Aimee Meredith Cox, Kamilah Forbes, Shani Jamila, Marc Bamuthi Joseph, Kiese Laymon, Fabiola Jean Louis, Haki Madhubuti, Alicia Hall Moran, Jason Moran, Lynn Nottage, Mary Lovelace O’Neal, Wendi Moore-O’Neal, Fahamu Pecou, Sonia Sanchez and Carrie Mae Weems. Stay tuned for bi-weekly audio interviews with each of the featured guests, beginning on Tuesday March 2nd. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Spotify to receive new episodes every other Tuesday.

Announcing the Taneya Gethers Muhammad Memorial Scholarship! Taneya was a writer, educator, librarian, community builder and a proud graduate of Spelman College. She rigorously studied the history of radicalism at Spelman, wrote about the importance of renewing our commitment to cultural activism, and created library programs to educate the community about our undertold stories.


Shani is honored to have partnered with the college and Dr. Ruha Benjamin to develop this fund in Taneya’s name, supporting young scholar activists. In providing funding for Spelman students who share her commitment to making a radical impact on campus and in the community, they will continue her fierce devotion to her family, both blood and spirit. 


Click here to learn more and to donate to the scholarship fund.