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Abdel R. Salaam
Artistic Director & Choreographer
Abdel R. Salaam is the Executive Artistic Director/Co-Founder of Forces of Nature Dance Theatre (FONDT) founded in 1981. Mr. Salaam is also the Artistic Director of Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Dance Africa, originally founded by the late Chuck Davis in 1977. Born in Harlem, New York, Abdel, is a critically acclaimed choreographer and in the past, served as a dancer, teacher and/or performing artist in five continents throughout his 52 year career in the Dance World. He has received numerous awards and fellowships for excellence in Dance including the National Endowment for the Arts, The New England Foundation on the Arts, Brooklyn Academy of Music, New York Foundation for the Arts, The New York State Council for Arts, The National Council for Arts and Culture and Herbert H. Lehman College. He and his company received the 2013 Audelco Award for Dance Company of the Year. He has served as a choreographer and/or director for the New York Shakespeare Festival, The Billie Holiday Theater, The Apollo Theater, The Winter Solstice at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, The New York Musical Theater Festival, BAM, Black Dance USA and The Tennessee Performing Arts Festival. Some of his specific credits in theater , film and television include: “Measure for Measure,” New York Shakespeare Festival (Choreographer ) ; “Pecong”, Newark Symphony Hall (Choreographer); “TUT”, New York Musical Theatre Festival, (Director /Choreographer); ”Ebony Magic: The Life and Legend of Marie Laveau”, Aaronow Theater, (Director/Choreographer); “JuJu Man“ , Billie holiday Theater (Director/ Choreographer); “ The Liberation of Mother Goose”, Billie Holiday Theater (Director Choreographer); “Eclipse; Visions of the Crescent and the Cross” and “Rhythm Legacy”, Tennessee Performing Arts Center (Director/Choreographer/Artist in Residence); “Free to Dance “, PBS Channel 13 (Choreographer); ” The Conan O’Brien Show“, NBC Channel 4 (Choreographer); “Expressions in Black; The Story of a People”, ABC Channel 7, (Choreographer); “Talk of the Town”, WPIX Channel 11; “The Richard Pryor Show”, NBC Channel 4 (Dancer); and “ Black Nativity” Fox Searchlight Films (Performing Artist). Abdel has created ballets for Philadanco , Joan Miller Chamber Arts/ Dance Players, Ailey II, The Chuck Davis Dance Company , Union Dance Theater (London), Ballet Islenos (Puerto Rico), Sakoba Dance Theater (London), Muntu Dance Theater, The Nashville Ballet, The African American Dance Ensemble and Gywa Maten. Abdel and his company have provided services in Arts Education and Youth Empowerment for students in schools K-12 , colleges, universities and community based organizations through residencies , workshops, master classes, seminars and performances through Young Audiences, Arts connection, Developing Arts of the Bronx, Restoration Youth Arts, Aaron Davis Hall, The Caribbean Cultural Center and Hospital Audiences. Mr. Salaam has served on the faculties of the American Dance Festivals in the United States and Seoul, Korea, Herbert H. Lehman College, The Alvin Ailey American Dance Center, The Restoration Youth Arts Academy and The Harlem Children’s Zone. Mr. Salaam is the creator of the Kwanzaa Regeneration Night Celebration in Harlem, now 40 years old, which was inspired by the teachings of it’s visionary creator and founder of Kwanzaa, Dr. Maulana Karenga. He is the recipient of the 2017 Bessie Award for Outstanding Production of “The Healings Sevens” and the 2019 American Dance Guild Lifetime Achievement Award in Dance. Abdel premiered his first dance film short entitled ” Dawnfeather Rising: In the Age of MA’ AT” on the Apollo Theater’s Virtual Kwanzaa Regeneration Night Celebration in December 2020 featuring the Forces of Nature Dance Theatre and the music of Oumou Sangare . On May 29, 2021, Mr. Salaam directed and choreographed The Brooklyn Academy of Music’s first dance film “Earth Born”, which premiered as the featured element of BAM’s 44th Annual DanceAfrica Virtual Festival entitled “Vwa Zanset Yo: Y’ap Pale N’ap Danse” (Ancestral Voices: They Speak We Dance). In the same year, The Apollo Theater commissioned him to direct and choreograph his latest dance film entitled ” Nguzo Saba”, which aired in December. This is his 15th year serving as the event’s Artistic Director. Under Abdel’s artistic direction and leadership which is now in its sixth year, DanceAfrica received the 2021 Bessie Award for Outstanding Service to the Field of Dance.
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