Makeda Thomas - FULL BIO
Dancer/Choreographer/Artistic Director, MAKEDA THOMAS creates new dance works through collaboration with artists around the world. Makeda Thomas is from Trinidad & Tobago and has presented work at HARLEM Stage/Aaron Davis Hall, Dance Theater Workshop, and Symphony Space in NYC, The Brooklyn Museum of Art, Brooklyn Academy of Music, BRIC Arts|Media|Brooklyn, the Chicago Women’s Performance Arts Festival, Maputo’s Teatro Africa, Port of Spain’s Caribbean Contemporary Arts, Queen’s Hall, Zimbabwe’s 7 Arts Centre, Seattle’s Broadway Performance Hall, Teatro de la Ciudad in Mexico, and as a Cultural Envoy for the U.S. Department of State.
In 2004, during its 25th Anniversary season, she was named Resident Choreographer of Companhia Nacional De Canto e Dança. Graça Machel (Former First Lady of South Africa and Moçambique) served as the Honorary Patron of her internationally acclaimed work, A Sense of Place (2005), on which she presented at the 1st Biennale Performing Africa/Visualizing Africa! In 2007, Thomas was a featured choreographer in This Woman’s Work: Choreographic Development Project Representing Women of Color - joining Camille A. Brown, Bridget Moore, Shani Collins, Princess Mhoon Cooper, Francine Ott, & Ursula Payne. In 2008, as Artistic Advisor, Thomas remounted FIN by contemporary African dance choreographer Augusto Cuvilas. The work went on to performances at The Baltoppen in Copenhagen, Teatro Africa and Centre Culturel Franco Mozambicain in Maputo, and Zimbabwe’s Tetrad Reps Theatre.
Makeda’s choreography has been commissioned by the Central District Forum for Arts & Ideas, 651 ARTS Black Dance: Tradition & Transformation, and received awards from Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation, the United States Embassy, NYS Dance Force, Puffin Foundation, NYS Council on the Arts, Bossak-Heilbron Charitable Foundation, Arts International, Yellowfox, and the National AIDS Council of Moçambique. In 2012, she received a Young Maverick Award from COCO Dance Festival (Trinidad) and was inducted in the Caribbean Hall of Fame for Excellence in Dance (Jamaica).
Makeda Thomas has collaborated on films with Finnish cinematographer, Panu Kari, Trinidadian multi-media artist, Elspeth Duncan and German photographer, Stefan Falke. Her film work has been shown at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe, T&T Moves Film Festival, MadLab’s 1st International Film Festival, the 41st Congress on Research in Dance “Dance Studies & Global Feminisms”, and BRIC as part of Choreographic Sketches II. Her 2012 site-specific work Sighting Freedom, premiered at the Buffalo Canal Harbor, featured collaborations with Henri Muhammad and Karima Amin, and received major suport from the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation.
Thomas has been a Visiting Artist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (where her work FreshWater was embedded into “Black Matters: Introduction to Black Studies”), Yale University, University of Minnesota (as a Cowles Visiting Guest Artist and part of Continuously Rich: Black Women in Cultural Production), University of the West Indies, Long Island University, Hofstra University, Hollins University, Florida Memorial University, and University of Hawaii. Thomas has conducted independent projects and research in South Africa, Argentina, The Netherlands and taught at American Dance Festival, The Dalton School, Arts in Education Institute of Western NY, and NYC Dept. of Education. In 2010, she developed The Dance & Performance Institute - an international community of dance and performance artists, a forum for exchange, and a series of programs on contemporary dance and performance.
As a dancer, Makeda Thomas performed internationally in the companies of Ronald K. Brown/EVIDENCE, URBAN BUSH WOMEN, and Rennie Harris/ Puremovement in Facing Mekka, said by the Los Angeles Times to be “arguably the greatest tribute to black womanhood since Alvin Ailey’s “Cry.” Thomas has also performed as a guest artist with Shani Collins/ETERNAL WORKS, Robin Becker Dance, Lula Washington Dance Theater, and Stephen Koplowitz. She began her study in Brooklyn, New York with Michael Goring and Eleo Pomare, continuing on scholarship at the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance, The Paul Taylor School and Hofstra University where she earned a B.A. in Dance and English. She also holds an MFA in Dance from Hollins University. Thomas continues to create and perform internationally, while living in New York City & Port of Spain.