Pod de Deux interviewed Ni’Ja Whitson as part of a series of interviews with five 2019 NYC Bessie Award nominees. Ni’Ja was nominated for a Bessie for outstanding production and Visual Design of Oba Qween Baba King Baba, which was Co-commissioned by Danspace Project and Abrons Arts Center. We hope to do a full-length interview with them in the future!
Ni’Ja Whitson (CA/NYC) is a Creative Capital and Bessie Award winning, Nonbinary Transinterdisciplinary artist and writer, who has been referred to as “majestic” by The New York Times and recognized by Brooklyn Magazine as a culture influencer. Theyare a 2018 MAP Fund recipient, featured choreographer of the 2018 CCA Biennial, 2019 USA Artists Fellowship Nominee, and 2018-2020 Urban Bush Women Choreographic Center Fellow. Other recent awards include a Jerome/Camargo Fellowship, Watermill Residency, Dance in Process (DiP) Residency, Hedgebrook Fellowship, LMCC Process Space Residency, Bogliasco Fellowship, and Brooklyn Arts Exchange Artist Residency. Whitson is an Assistant Professor of experimental choreography at UC Riverside and founder of The NWA Project. www.nijawhitson.com
Ni’Ja’s Oba Qween Baba King Baba engages spiritual multiplicity and the role of Queerness in the Divine. The work’s title is based on the Yorùbá word “Oba,” which is a genderless term that has come to be known as a king. An iteration of this work was presented during Dancing Platform Praying Grounds: Blackness, Churches, and Downtown Dance (Platform 2018) curated by Reggie Wilson.