- PhD Dance, Temple University
MFA Dance, Arizona State University
BA African American Studies, Virginia Commonwealth University
A multifaceted artist-scholar, Dr. Omilade Davis-Smith has worked the majority of her life as a dancer, educator and performer. Omi earned a PhD in Dance from Temple University with a specialization in the development of contemporary dance in Senegal, and an MFA in Dance from Arizona State University with a focus on contemporary African dance techniques and somatic approaches to choreography. She is one of 16 people certified in the practice and pedagogy of Germaine Acogny’s Modern African Dance Technique. Omi’s scholarly research focuses on continuities across African American, Caribbean and Francophone African cultural histories. Additional areas of specialization include 20th century black modernism in Jamaica, the United States and Francophone Africa, African independence-era politics and the performing arts, Négritude and African socialisms, Africana and ‘Black’ feminisms, and embodiment in dance. Her movement research employs choreographic tools to explore connections between language, rhythm, symbolism and aesthetics in African social and contemporary dances.
In her current book project, Putting Africa in Her Place: Germaine Acogny’s Modern African Dance Technique, Omi engages a new pan-African theoretical framework to examine cultural and ideological values embedded within the Acogny Technique. Her theoretical model, Awòdá, explores relationships between the body, ideologies, aesthetics and culture through African and Diaspora embodied practice. As a Fulbright Scholar to Guinea, Omi apprenticed with Les Ballets Africains, the country’s national dance company. She filmed and is currently producing the documentary, The Patriots and the State: Dance and Political Change in Guinea, which investigates the company’s development in relationship to the country’s turbulent political history. Omi has taught widely in West African and US institutions, including the University of Richmond, Virginia Commonwealth University, the University of Minnesota, L’Institut Supérieur des Arts Mory Kante in Dubréka, Guinea and L'École des Sables Centre International de Danses Traditionnelles et Contemporaines in Toubab Dialaw, Senegal.
Omi is the founder and artistic director of omi davis co, a dance-based organization with a network of artists based in the US and West Africa. The company helps to develop sustainable, ethical business networks in West Africa through retail commerce and dance workshops. omi davis co promotes intercultural exchange through international travel and dance education, hosting an annual Dance in Africa workshop in Senegal each summer.
DNCE-360 Histories of Dance