Grant Recipients Grants to Artists Dance 2022

nia love

A portrait of nia love in front of a blurred background of green foliage. She looks up, tilting her head back and opening her mouth in an expression of joy. She wears thin gold hoop earrings, a thin gold necklace, a blue floral patterned top, blue overalls, and orange nail polish.
Photo by Tony Turner.
  • 2022 Grants to Artists
  • Dance
  • Choreographer, Community Steward, Professor
  • Born 1963, Los Angeles, CA
  • Lives in New York, NY
  • Additional Information

Artist Statement

The center of gravity in my work is the question of blackness and the complexity held within the experiences it names: resistance, virtuosity, breaking, hypermobility, inordinate constraint. I aim to destabilize and dismantle “dance,” redressing it as “gesture”—the memory of movement and geography held in the body. The embodied literacies of the African diaspora energize this method of aesthetic practice and frame a way of living. Treating performance as a mode of forging knowledge, this dancing body has been and continues to be a catalyst for social change, transcultural healing practices, and the preservation of ancestral memories.

Thought doesn't just take place in the brain and is not necessarily calculative; every part of the body thinks. I am deeply committed to the way dance operates relationally as a sensory act and a means of collective life, forming inside and alongside flesh. I see dance dissolved in ethereal solutions, a kind of liquid form that solidifies and loses its presence in this entanglement, becoming a vaporous nonlocality. The landscape that I tap into is a way to aerate the smoky (un)clearness of composing the body in space, a way into abstraction that is not abstract at all.

- December 2021


nia love is a Black, indigenous, American woman, dancer, choreographer, diver, and mother, whose practice is anchored and immersed in maternal care, alchemy of blackness, embodied memory, and “curiosity with the sea.” Her approach is unruly and elegiac as she searches for wild, rowdy, and disobedient movement, wringing out the body of all its expressive capacities and building up something else: new scores of space and alternate routes of escape and feeling.

love’s serial, multimedia work g1(host):lostatsea (2015-present) investigates the ocean as a site of knowledge and memory, scrutinizing the “afterlife” of slavery and what remains of the Middle Passage as force, gesture, and affect. Continuing this body of work, her project UNDERcurrents had its first iteration at Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr, PA (2021). It explores cosmological scales of the imaginaries of Black world-making and the cultural reverberations of the “door of no return,” inviting audiences to probe the seam between catastrophic history and quotidian memory and tend the textures of kinship bonds and generational care. love received a New York Dance and Performance “Bessie” Award for Outstanding Music Composition/Sound Design for g1(host):lostatsea (2020) with her collaborators Antone Roney and Nioka Workman. The 2019 presentation of g1(host):lostatsea - iteration #10 at Gibney Agnes Varis Performing Arts Center, New York, NY, was supported by a Foundation for Contemporary Arts Emergency Grant.

She performs with choreographer and director Liz Lerman and collaborates with Rhonda Haynes, filmmaker, director, and writer of the award-winning documentary film Bringin' in Da Spirit. love continues to perform in project‐based work, including Skeleton Architecture, an acclaimed collective of Black women(+) improvisers with whom she received a New York Dance and Performance “Bessie” Award for Outstanding Performer (2017).

She has participated in residencies and fellowships, including the Dance Program Residency at Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr, PA (2020-2021); the Urban Bush Women Choreographic Fellowship at Maggie Allesee National Center For Choreography, Tallahassee, FL (2019-2020); a Gibney DiP Dance in Process Residency (2019); a New York State Council on the Arts Residency at Movement Research, New York, NY (2016); and the City University of New York Dance Initiative Residency (2016).

Her work has been supported by a MAP Fund Grant for g1(host):lostatsea (2020); a City University of New York Adjunct Incubator Grant (2019); the Surdna Foundation Award (2016); and a New York Live Arts’ Suitcase Fund Award (2013-2014).

love is Co-Artistic Advisor of Brooklyn Arts Exchange Artist-In-Residence Program and Artistic Advisor of New York Live Arts’ Fresh Tracks Residency & Performance program. She is an adjunct assistant professor at Queens College and the New School’s Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts. love received her B.F.A. in theater directing and B.S. in pre-medicine from Howard University. She holds an M.F.A. in choreography from Florida State University.

A performance still of nia love laying with her stomach on the ground and her feet up behind her, looking intently at a florescent blue lit cone in front of her. The setting is dark and love's body is encased in shadows. On the wall beside her there is a projection of an opaque image of two people standing close to each other and smiling with a translucent image of love's own face layered atop it. Blue, purple, and yellow light tints the scene.
Performance still from UNDERcurrents, at Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr, PA, 2021. Performer: nia love. Photo by Aidan Un.
Performance excerpt from The Porch. nia love_a duet with Thelonious Sphere Monk, at Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr, PA, 2021. Video by Aidan Un.
Video excerpt from UNDERcurrents: voyage noir, 2020, 5 minutes 14 seconds. Film design by Orion Gordan, consulting by Rhonda Haynes, editing by Aidan Un.
A close up performance still of nia love swimming nude, pressed up against glass. Only her face, chest, and arms are visible. The scene is dappled pink and purple. A small light green image of the back of a person upright in fetal position is positioned by love's hair.
Performance still from g1(host): lostatsea - iteration #9, at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL, 2019. Photo by Natalie Fiol.
A performance still of nia love supporting a wooden framed image with her back and arms. Her arms are held out in a w shape, and she looks downwards. She wears a white cloth draped across her waist and is otherwise nude. The image she holds is partially obscured but one leg and arm of a life-sized person sitting on a grey mat is visible. The image has the same beige marble background as the wall behind love. Behind the marbled wall, there is a grey stone wall carved with draped cloth around a block of text. The floor is made of light colored wood.
Performance still from g1(host): lostatsea - iteration #8, at Judson Memorial Church, New York, 2018. Photo by Ian Douglas.
Performance excerpt from g1(host): lostatsea - iteration #8, at Judson Memorial Church, New York, 2018. Film design by Orion Gordan, consulting by Rhonda Haynes.
A performance still of nia love swimming towards the camera, nude, with her hands overlapped in front of her and her legs mid-kick behind her. Her eyes and mouth are closed tightly and she is nude. On either side of her (and below her) are big algae-covered rocks. The water is hued turquoise and the overall scene is slightly blurred.
Performance still from g1(host):lostatsea - iteration #7, at Glorya Kaufman Dance Theater, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, 2017. Photo by David Elliot.