A multiethnic native Harlemite, Joya Powell is a Bessie Award–winning choreographer and educator who is passionate about community, activism and dances of the African diaspora. Hailed by The New York Times as a “radiant performer,” throughout her career, she has danced with choreographers such as Paloma McGregor, Katiti King, Nicole Stanton, Neta Pulvermacher and Mar Parrilla. In 2005, Joya founded Movement of the People Dance Company (MOPDC), dedicated to addressing sociocultural injustices through multidisciplinary immersive contemporary dance. Her work has appeared in venues such as BAM, Lincoln Center, SummerStage, La Mama, Movement Research at Judson Church, BAAD! (Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance) and The Bronx Museum of the Arts, all in New York; The Dance Complex, Cambridge, Massachusetts; Mudlark Theater, New Orleans; The School of Contemporary Dance & Thought Northampton, Massachusetts; and among others. In addition to being a performance-based company, MOPDC facilitates community engagements nationally and internationally, and the company holds an annual Free Day of Dance and an acclaimed Winter Intensive.
Joya has choreographed such plays as Fit for a Queen by Betty Shamieh (The Classical Theatre of Harlem, New York), JOB by Thomas Bradshaw (The FLEA Theater, New York) and Songs About Trains by Beto O’Byrne (The New Ohio Theatre, New York). Her research led her to teach and study in Brazil, Puerto Rico, Cuba and Israel. Awards and recognition include: a 2016 Outstanding Emerging Choreographer Bessie Award, Dancing While Black Fellow, Women in Motion Commissioned Artist, EtM Choreographers + Composers Residency, Angela’s Pulse’s North Star Arts Incubator, CUNY Dance Initiative AIR and the Unsettling Dramaturgy Award. Joya is co-director of The Dancing While Black (DWB) leadership team, along with Paloma McGregor, DWB’s founder, Kayla Hamilton and Marguerite Hemmings. She is a collaborating member of Dance Caribbean Collective, Radical Evolution and a visiting assistant professor at Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut.