A portrait of Uwazi Zamani standing in front of a brick wall and wearing a black and white shirt with a black blazer
Faculty

Dance (MFA)

Uwazi Zamani serves as an artist in residence who traverses across the undergraduate and graduate programs in the School of Dance. Uwazi models a research and pedagogical practice reflective of Black queer cultural and archival practices that have been forged to contest histories of marginalization and oppression.

Biography

Uwazi Zamani is a celebrated Black, multidisciplinary performance artist, cultural curator and social arts activist from Houston, Texas. Uwazi holds a BFA in Dance Performance and a BA in African and African Diaspora Studies with an emphasis in Black Performance and Black Queer Studies from The University of Texas at Austin. Uwazi also holds an MFA in Dance from University of the Arts. 

Uwazi has performed and worked under the artistic direction of choreographers Kevin Wynn, Steven Iannacone, Dorrell Martin, Elijah Gibson Stephanie Martinez, Alicia Diaz, Tommie-Waheed Evans, Iquail Shaheed, Anne Rena Petrarca, Eddie Stockton and Sharon Wong. Well into Uwazi’s career, Uwazi joined Urban Souls Dance Company in Houston, Texas, under the artistic direction of Harrison Guy and performed works by Courtney D. Jones Jr., Travis Gatling, Christopher Thomas and Kevin Ferguson. Uwazi has served as an artist in residence and a creative consultant to DANCE Iquail, Philadelphia; and The Ensemble Theatre, Urban Souls Dance Company, DanceSource Houston, and the Union Arts Festival, all in Houston, Texas. Uwazi has also served as a research consultant and dramaturg to Social Movement Contemporary Dance Company in Houston, under the artistic direction of Elijah Gibson and Guggenheim Fellowship recipient Tommie-Waheed Evans and his company, waheedworks.

Moved by the writings and performance art of the Black gay cultural renaissance of the ’80s and ’90s—during the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic—Uwazi has archived digital and physical copies of writings to rekindle the memory of Black sexual and gender-variant communities. Through this work, Uwazi has been able to understand Black queer and trans archival practices as a dual and contending power to halt erasure, while casing how these histories have a very complicated relationship with evidencing themselves, given the social ills of racism, homophobia and transphobia. Uwazi’s performance and the choreographic process move alongside Black trans and queer cultural production and archival practices like chanting, poetry, performance, speeches and other sites of Black queer memory.

Through the use of multidisciplinary energetics, Uwazi seeks to create a palette of work that exudes an intentional authority over elements like space, identity, body and sound as a way of exhibiting a simultaneity of engagement, refusal and protest. Uwazi also seeks to create work that prompts intentional dialogue, transformative justice and that is firmly planted in unraveling the complexities of Black queer histories and modes of being.

Uwazi’s current research moves through the history of ballroom/house culture, to develop a documented and theorized embodied practice of vogue fem. Uwazi is entangled with vogue fem’s physical enactment of cultural memories and residues that connect the form to its diasporic past. Uwazi is examining vogue fem as a vehicle for intergenerational transfers of culture amongst Black queer youth and how the performance vernaculars and mediums present in ballroom culture underscore a need for communal revisions. This has been documented in Uwazi’s published artist book This is What I Wanna See! Notes on Vogue Fem as a Way Forward.

Experience

Uwazi also has a breadth of academic experience, including 

  • a BFA in Dance Performance, The University of Texas at Austin;

  • a BA in African and African Diaspora Studies, The University of Texas at Austin; and 

  • an MFA in Dance, University of the Arts.

Websites & Work

“Polytemporal Re-Mixes” by Tommie-Waheed Evans  

Embodied Histories vogue fem course

Research as Action

The Telling of Us: Mapplethorpe, Serial Murder and the Value of Black Gay Life 

Awards & Accolades

Uwazi’s work has been recognized numerous times. 

  • Social Impact Award, Houston Community College, 2019

  • Let Creativity Happen! Grant, Houston Arts Alliance, 2020

  • Support for Artists and Creative Individuals, Houston Arts Alliance, 2020 

  • Adobe Creative Genius Award, 2020

  • Dance Source Houston Artist in Residency Award, 2020

we can, we must and we continue to gather so that we will

Uwazi Zamani performing on a dark stage and wearing a leather harnesslike chest piece and a pleated long skirt in mustard color
Uwazi Zumani kneeling on a stage in front of portraits of a variety of men that are lit in red and pink and blue
“In Memory of When I Cared,” photo by Lynn Lane