This information is accurate as of the fellowship year indicated for each fellow.
Ayodele Casel is an actor, tap dancer, and choreographer. While I Have The Floor, her one-woman show that premiered at Spoleto Arts Festival, revealed her journey to reclaiming language, culture, identity, and expression through the art of tap dance.
During her fellowship, Casel is working on Diary of a Tap Dancer, a theatrical work positioning tap dance as the driving force of the narrative. This project aims to create a fuller and more accurate picture of the legacy of the art form by centering the voices of its unnamed women within a broader historical context. Diary explores shared themes of hoofers past and present with stories illuminating the struggle and joy of expression, communication, the evolution of jazz music, gender inequality, and the personal and culturally devastating implications for women of color. How do we maintain the legacy of an art form if its historical and social contexts are not inclusive?
Casel is the recipient of a 2017 Hoofer Award and the 2018 Artsmith Transcendence Award, for championing arts education. She was selected to represent City Center On the Move 2019, where she shared her work “Rooted” and engaged with New York City communities. Casel was also the 2018–2019 dance artist-in-residence at Harvard University. Hailed by the legendary Gregory Hines as “one of the top young tap dancers in the world” and by the New York Times as “a tap dancer of unquestionable radiance,” Casel has become an internationally sought-after artist and a powerful voice for the art form.
Improvising through the Pandemic, the Show Goes on for New York's Performing Artists (CBS News 60 Minutes, 4/25/21)
The US Postal Service Honors Tap Dance on a New Series of Stamps (Dance Magazine, 2/18/21)
They’re Used to Tapping. Now They’re Talking. (New York Times, 7/21/20)