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Photo: Ian Douglas

Tara Aisha Willis Associate Curator of Performance


Tara Aisha Willis is a dancer, PhD candidate in Performance Studies at New York University (anticipated January 2022), and Curator in Performance & Public Practice at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. She has held a New York Public Library for the Performing Arts Jerome Robbins Dance Division Research Fellowship and has served as co-managing editor for TDR/The Drama Review. She co-edited the first dance-focused special issue of The Black Scholar with Thomas F. DeFrantz (2016) and the performance writing book, Marking the Occasion with Jaime Shearn Coan (Wendy's Subway, 2020); other writings include essays in the exhibition catalogue Blondell Cummings: Dance as Moving Pictures (Getty Research Institute/Art + Practice/X Artists' Books, 2021), the forthcoming anthology Dancing on the Third Coast: Chicago Dance Histories (eds. Susan Manning and Lizzie Leopold) and performance series catalogue Dancing Platform Praying Grounds: Blackness, Churches, and Downtown Dance (Danspace Project, 2018). Willis performed in a 2016–21 collaboration between Will Rawls and Claudia Rankine which traveled to Bard College, Danspace Project, Walker Art Center, REDCAT, MCA Chicago, and ICA Boston; she danced in the “Bessie” award-winning 2016 improvised performance by The Skeleton Architecture. She was the founding administrator of Movement Research's Artists of Color Council and a working group member for “Creating New Futures," the COVID-19 responsive guidelines for ethical dance presenting. She has been a guest speaker at Williams College, Yale University, Princeton University, Northwestern University, Kenyon College, Smith College, the Banff Centre for Arts & Creativity, University of the Arts, and Hampshire College, among others. She currently sits on the board of Links Hall and on the Artistic Advisory Board of The Field Center residency in Vermont. She has been member of the Women & Performance: a journal of feminist theory editorial collective since 2013.