Whitson is an interdisciplinary artist and independent choreographer. Her recent positions include assistant and contributing choreographer to Dianne McIntyre for the Goodman Theater’s production of Crowns, directed and written by Regina Taylor. Additionally, she recently completed an international tour of her performance solo, root shock, including invitations in New York, Canada, and Rio de Janeiro.
“Ni’Ja is an incredible artist who’s work spans dance, theater, music, and writing,” said Assistant Professor of Theater Chloe Johnston. “She is a gifted teacher who turns all of her students into artists in their own right - even in a short workshop.” Johnston was instrumental in bringing Whitson to campus.
Whitson will spend the week of February 25 visiting several classes on campus. She’ll perform her latest dance piece, before, with students on Thursday, February 28. before is a new theatrical performance experiment of ritual, Queer folk and Spirit folk, rhythm, and a traveler’s path. Set in the space between beginnings and time, sound and movement collide to conjure.
With a practice spanning genres, Whitson has been awarded residencies, grants, and recognition across artistic disciplines. Awards include a 2012 Illinois Arts Council grant, 2012 LinkUI residency award, 2010-2011 Lisa Dershin residency award, 2011 Chicago DanceBridge residency award from the Chicago Cultural Center, John G. Curtis Jr. Prize, two Archibald Motley Grants, a 3Arts Visual Artist Award nomination, as well as a Fellowship Award from the School of the Art Institute where she received her MFA. She is featured in Living Thinkers a chronicle of Black women scholars, and has published in print and online journals.
The Artist-in-Residence program began in the 1960s as a Poet-in-Residence program and has since grown to include writers, visual artists, jazz musicians, and even string quartets.