p. Shaka Shot Dat

yaTande Whitney V. Hunter, PhD (he/him/his) Chicago-born and raised, Philadelphia-based artist committed to #cultureascatalyst. With his co-created, NEA supported Denizen Arts Project (Walk the (pink) Elephant), his work centers around cultivating individual and communal spirit through dance-performance, education and curation. Dr. yaTande’s choreographic and performance art works have been presented through Performance Garage, AS220, RISD Museum, Kumble Theater, La Mama, Grace Exhibition Space, Panoply Performance Laboratory, Brooklyn International Performance Art Festival and in the streets of NYC, Chicago and Detroit. He has worked in the companies of Martha Graham Dance Company, Rod Rodgers, Reggie Wilson, Martha Clarke, Fiona Templeton, Daria Faïn and Robert Kocik, John Jesurun, Kankouran West African Dance Company, Yass Hakoshima, Najwa Dance Corps, and others. yaTande has worked extensively as choreographer and movement director for Trinity Repertory Company (A Christmas Carol, Gem of the Ocean, black Odyssey, Little Shop of Horrors, and others), was a Movement Research Artist in Residence (2013-15), a founding member/curator of Social Health Performance Club, and is currently Executive Artistic Director of Denizen Arts Project, co-created with his partner, theatre artist, Jude Sandy.

Dr. yaTande has received creation, performance, and exhibition commissions and grants from National Endowment for the Arts, Independence Fellowship, Providence Arts, Culture and Tourism; New York State Council for the Arts; Puffin Foundation; Harlem Stages; Thelma Hill Performing Arts Center; Brooklyn International Performance Art Festival, and others. Recent stage performances include: Yowa Maafa, Walk the (pink) Elephant, 9Roads; and publications, “Ring Shout, A Corporeal Conjuring of Black Togetherness” (Dance Research Journal).

Dr. yaTande teaches nationally and internationally at Dance Iquail, International Interdisciplinary Artist Consortium, Performance Garage, Peridance Capezio Center, Deeply Rooted Dance Theatre, Harlem School of the Arts, The Ailey School, Dance Institute of Washington, Centro Nacional de Danza Contemporánea (MX), LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance, and as an Adjunct Professor at Long Island University (2008-2016).

His academic degrees include: B.F.A in Theatre Arts/Dance (Howard University), M.F.A in New Media Arts and Performance (Long Island University), and a Ph.D. in Philosophy, Art Theory and Aesthetics from the Institute for Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts (2013 David Driskell Fellow). yaTande serves as Assistant Professor of Dance and Coordinator of the African Diaspora Dance Series at Temple University where he researches the convergences of sacred and secular ritual, Afro-Spiritualit(ies), and Africanist principles as AfrOist aesthetic in contemporary dance-performance. (

AfrOist journeying, conjuring embodied authenticities

At almost three decades of professional life performing, choreographing, directing and teaching, I continue to unearth layers of my artistic practice, particularly as it regards dance/performance as a spiritual, social and political endeavor. Through this forge of creative experience, I define my role as a contemporary dance/performance artist as being towards the activation of the catalytic possibilities of art.

My deep interest and investigations into the intersections of the sacred and the secular are grounded in a confluence of my formal engagements in indigenous African and diasporic spiritualities, contemporary performance practice, and global philosophic and theoretical approaches. These processes mingle and manifest corporeally in my work, involving ever-deepening, shamanic tendencies of my diasporic African and queer identities and heritages. I am captivated by the fertile complexities of this interaction, out of which new ideas arise and pre-established meanings are re-contextualized. Through live and mediated performance, installation and cultural curation, my work provides an opening into often over-looked and under-appreciated realities, and into opportunities for individual and communal actualization through witnessing and participation.

What I have discovered through this Afro-shamanic investigation of hybridity is that the activation of creative spirit, through collective bodily engagements, illuminates our individual depths and complexities and their relation to our larger communities and the families which define us. As a diasporic African, queer, cis-, same-gender-loving male, I experience how so many of us endure, yet work to overcome, oppressions intended to disrupt alignments of empowering authenticity and the catalytic spirit of whole populations of human beings. My work then is a perseverance in the cultivation of embodiment as a confrontation and rejection of oppressions, an ongoing testimony to the power of connectivity. I continue this work as foundational to my choreography, teaching, and cultural organizing.

Dance/performance art facilitates my learning through and with my body directly. My creations uncover and unleash the activistic artist charged with revealing authenticity in myself and an audience. I am committed to hearing and answering this call, as a medium of spirit through the artistry of dance and performance.