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Celia Weiss Bambara is a dancer and a choreographer with a Ph.D. from the University of California of Riverside in Critical Dance Studies and she holds an MA in Dance from the University of California, Los Angeles. She is a dual citizen in the US and Burkina Faso and maintains a bi-national pick-up company in the Ivory Coast and North Carolina. Currently, Celia is an assistant professor of dance and the acting director of the Dance Program at UNC Asheville. She moved to Asheville from Abidjan, Ivory Coast in 2015 where she taught as a professor of dance at the National Arts Conservatory (INSAAC). Prior to this appointment Celia was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Illinois, Chicago where she taught between 2008 and 2011.
She is a practiced-based scholar and her work addresses the intersections of practice as research in contemporary and African diasporic dance. Her dance work has been shown in the United States, internationally in the Caribbean, West Africa and in Europe at venues including Links Hall in Chicago, The Drucker Center in Chicago, Outerspace in Chicago, Praxis Place and Outerspace in Chicago, Institut Francais in Abidjan, Goethe Institut in Abidjan, Alliance Francaise in Chicago, Jane Addams Hull House in Chicago, San Francisco at the Mission Theater, Claremont Mckenna College, Epiphany Episcopal Church in Chicago, Alliance Francaise in Chicago, African American Museum in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Occidental College, University of Southern California, National Theater in Abidjan (CNAC), INSAAC (National Arts Conservatory in Abidjan), National Television in Haiti, Trinidad at Alice Yard and the Republic of Sydenham, in Jamaica at the Caribbean Studies Association, Donko Seko in Mali, at Flox Galleries in Kirchau, Germany, MJC Picaud Theater in Cannes, France and at the Belk Theater at UNC Asheville. Her work has appeared in CIE Tene’s Les Deux Terre Festival in (Cannes, France), Links Hall 30/30 Festival (Chicago), Afrik Urban Arts Dance Festival (Abidjan), Haitian Dance Music and Arts Festival (San Francisco), Un Pas Vers L’Avant (Abidjan) and the MASA (African Performing Arts) Festival (Abidjan). Most recently her solo works have toured in Jamaica, Trinidad, Ivory Coast, Cedar Rapids, San Francisco, Chicago, Germany, France and Michigan. Her site-specific dance works have been seen in Chicago at Doukan Arts Center, The Silver Room for the Annual Block Party in Chicago, in Trinidad at Alice Yard and in the Botanical Gardens at UNC Asheville. She is currently engaging in other multi-media investigations and installations locally and nationally.
She has completed long-term contemporary dance based projects in Abidjan between 2013 and 2015 and in Haiti between 1999 and 2003. Her awards include grants from the Puffin Foundation, US State Department, the University of Illinois, Chicago (Postdoctoral Fellowship), the National Theater Center in Abidjan (Ivory Coast), the Djerassi Foundation, the UCIRA (University of California Institute for Research in the Arts) for collaborative work in Haiti, the BVAR, Dance and Performance Institut (Trinidad) and Donko Seko (Mali), Ecole Des Sables Creative Residency (Senegal).
Celia’s movement research combines the base of Haitian dance with other African forms, modern/contemporary dance, yoga and Klein Mahler technique. She has recently begun study of BMC (Body Mind Centering) in Asheville and is looking forward to pursuing deeper inquiries in this set of somatic investigations. She has danced for JAKA in Port-au-Prince, Martin Dancers and Ayizan in Los Angeles as well as Rachel Thorne Germond in Chicago. She has collaborated with notable artists including Abou Bassa, Kimathi Moore, Djenane St. Juste, Christian Bambara, Dicko Yanogo, Jean-Luc Okou, and Florencia Pierre among others. Celia has taught at INSAAC (National Arts Conservatory, Ivory Coast), UC Riverside, Occidental College, Glendale Community College, UCLA, Romona High School for the Arts, University of Illinois Chicago as well as with Chicago Arts Partners in Education. She has taught Master Classes at USC, Occidental College, Grinnell College, UCLA, University of the West Indies in Trinidad and Denison University. Celia has also taught Haitian traditional dance, African contemporary and improvisation/composition at cultural centers/dance studios in Michigan, Los Angeles, Iowa, Chicago, Santa Barbara, New York, Jamaica, Haiti and Tobago, Trinidad, Burkina Faso, Mali and the Ivory Coast. The sites for her teaching include Dance New Amsterdam (New York), Donko Seko (Mali) Gateway Dance Theater (Des Moines Iowa), Links Hall (Chicago), Rast Ballet (Chicago), praxis place (Chicago), heart beat house (Los Angeles, CA), Shana (Port-au-Prince), Jaka (Port-au-Prince) and for the Ministry of Culture in Tobago, EDEC in Abidjan, Ecole de Danse Edit in (Burkina Faso) and in (Abidjan) for the "Un Pas Vers L'Avant" festival at the INSAAC and National City Park as well as at the Foyer de Jeunes in (Dakar, Senegal) through CIE Premier Temps teaching initiatives in the community.
Celia is a practicing yogi and teacher of yoga. She is 200 hour RYT certified through the International Yoga Alliance and she has taught yoga in Michigan, North Carolina, Germany, Burkina Faso and the Ivory Coast. She practices a mindful slow flow that is combined with somatics and adapted to the needs of dancing/dancerly bodies. She began practicing in 2003 after working on a choreographic project in Haiti and injuring herself dancing on the concrete. After many years of study at Silver Lake Yoga in Los Angeles and through work-study at Moksha yoga in Chicago between 2006 and 2010, Celia decided to pursue her certification in Hatha yoga through the Sivananda Ashram in Grass Valley California. Her perspective on yoga is shaped by somatic study, years of professional dancing and choreographic practice, her developing personal practice, and yogic spirituality and mindfulness.
Celia’s work addresses the complex set of intersections between artistic practice and theoretical inquiry by posing both practical responses through choreography and improvisation, community organization of events and written analyses as methods of studying contemporary and African diasporic dance. Her work traverses/intersects issues in process, movement research, improvisation, ethics, gender, race, translation, home and elsewhere, circulation, inter-culturalism, contemporaneity and tradition in relation to the work of her own company as well as other contemporary and diasporic artists. Her written work is published in a variety of sources in including Making Caribbean Dance, Area Magazine in Chicago, the Chicago Artists Resource, the Journal of Haitian Studies, Australasian Drama Studies and The Encyclopedia on Race and Racism. Celia has also curated Anatomy Riot in LA, Bloom series in Chicago, and evening length performances with dialogues about contemporary dance in Chicago and Abidjan.
For more information please see,
- Celia Weiss Bambara curriculum vitae
Improvisation and Composition,
Choreographing Gender and Identity,
Site Specific and Experimental Dancemaking
Contemporary Dance I-III
Traditional Haitian Dance
World Dance Studies,
African Diasporic Dance Studies