Tamara “Ṣàngóbamke” Williams

Tamara “Ṣàngóbamke” Williams (NC) is a native of Augusta, GA. She received her BFA from The Florida State University and her MFA in Dance from Hollins University in collaboration with The American Dance Festival, The Forsythe Company, and Frankfurt University in Frankfurt, Germany. Tamara’s performing career includes work with Alpha Omega Theatrical Dance Company, David P. France Dance Company, Errol Grimes Dance Group, Millicent and Company, Angela’s Pulse, Maverick Dance Experience, and UB2 (Urban Bush Women’s apprentice company). Her choreography has been performed nationally and internationally in Belgrade, Serbia; Basel, Switzerland; Trinidad & Tobago;  Salvador, Brazil; the Rex Nettleford  Kingston, Jamaica; Benin; and in Puebla, Mexico. In 2011 she founded Moving Spirits Inc, a contemporary-based dance company that performs, educates, researches, documents and archives dances of the African diaspora.

 In June of 2012, Tamara produced an evening dance performance entitled, The Makings of You, with Tamara LaDonna Moving Spirits, Inc. and special guests Laurie M. Taylor/Soul Movement and Francine Ott at Dance New Amsterdam. In October 2013, Epic Narratives; An evening of dance, visual art, theater and social commentary, was produced.  In February 2015, Tamara presented Moving Spirits to Enlightenment, part of the RESPOND series at the Smack Mellon Gallery in Brooklyn.  This event featured Moving Spirits, Inc., Sydnie L. Mosley Dances, Andre M. Zachary/Renegade Performance Group, students of El Puente and students of the Brooklyn Friends School in response to police brutality to Black Lives.  In May 2015, Tamara produced Dancing in the Parks: Bushwick Community Festival which presented prestigious dance companies, I’m public housing projects in NYC.

Tamara has trained intensely in Bahia, Brazil in Silvestre Technique, samba roots and African-Brazilian dance. Her award-winning  book, Giving Life to Movement: The Silvestre Dance Technique, explores the historical and cultural connections of Silvestre Dance Technique as a movement practice created by Rosangela Silvestre. Her article,  Her article, “ Reviving Culture Through Ring Shout”, explores the evolution of Ring Shout traditions and is published in The Dancer-Citizen Journal. She has a chapter on Ring Shoot traditions in the monograph, Fire Under My Feet: Historical Perspectives on Dance in the African Diaspora and her second book The African Diaspora and Civic Responsibility will be published by McFarland Publishing in 2024.

Tamara was a 2012 recipient of the Artist Residency Fellowship at the Dance & Performance Institute in Trinidad. She was a 2013 recipient of the Harlem Stage/Aaron Davis Hall Fund for New Work grant, and a 2014 &  2016 Community Arts Fund Grantee by the Brooklyn Arts Council.  She was the 2014 Lecturer/Emerging Artist-in-Residence at Penn State University- Altoona.  Moving Spirits, Inc. was the 2015 Company-in-Residence at the Jamaica Center for Arts & Leadership in Jamaica, Queens.  Tamara, also  was 2015 and 2017 Turkey Land Grove Foundation recipient in which she participated in two seven-day dance writing residencies in Martha’s Vineyard. She was a 2015 Fall Space Grant recipient, awarded by the Brooklyn Arts Exchange.  In 2016, Tamara was awarded the 2016-17 CoA+A Faculty Digital Making Grant from the College of Arts + Architecture at UNC Charlotte. She has received several UNCC mini diversity grant awards, and a Chancellor’s Diversity Challenge Fund award. Tamara has received three Faculty Research Grants which has support her in depth study and investigation of Ring Shout Dance Traditions and Òrìṣà dances. Tamara was commissioned by the Kaatsbaan International Dance Center to create a new work for Moving Spirits, Inc. in 2018; the new work premiered during her Kaatsbaan UpStream Residency in the Hudson Valley, NY. Tamara has received several Culture Blocks grants from the Mecklenburg County Arts & Science Council. The funding supports Moving Spirits’ ongoing free African diaspora dance workshops throughout the Charlotte community. She is a College of Arts + Architecture faculty recipient of the 2019-2020 Board of Governors Teaching Award. Tamara was commissioned to create a new work for Juneteenth in 2020 by The National Center for Choreography (NCCAkron) through an invitation by Cara Hagan.  In 2021, Tamara became an Arts and Science Council Emerging Creative Fellowship recipient to continue her research in Ring Shout traditions in the low country of the United States. In 2021, 2022, and 2023, Tamara was awarded a Cultural Visions Grant from the Arts and Science Council to support the annual LAVAGEM FESTIVAL! in Charlotte celebrating African diaspora and Indigenous communities, through Black Brazilian arts, history and culture. In 2022, Tamara was presented the Jan Van Dyke Legacy Award by the North Carolina Dance Festival.

Tamara has taught master classes in New York City, San Diego, San Antonio, Atlanta, Tallahassee, Charlotte, Altoona, Trinidad, Mexico, Brazil and Jamaica. She offers free master classes to the general public through Moving Spirits, Inc. She has worked as a Program Director for the Arts and Literacy Program in Brooklyn and is dedicated to continuous work in underserved communities.  Tamara is an Associate Professor of Dance at The University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

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