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For Nina

We exhale to remember, we perform to call in.


Performing art uniquely positions a person to look for and embody freedom. Nina Simone is one of the most beautiful Freedom Seekers. Her work paved the way for Black artists and underrepresented voices to claim liberation. This piece is titled “For Nina” as a thank you letter for the work she has done and as a reflection on the lineage - old and young - of artists like Nina Simone. This show celebrates the songs of Nina Simone with two lead artists: dancer, Victoria Lynn Awkward and vocalist, Desiré Graham.

The first iteration of For Nina included piano by Hua Ye (Jane), lighting design by Elmer Martinez, sets by Mikayla Williams and guest youth dancers from Jo-Mé Dance Arts and Urbanity Dance.

An audience member nicely identified the following about the show, “I felt that it was not so much of a "retelling" of Nina Simone's life, but rather an intrinsic and deeply vulnerable story being shared that mirrors so many marginalized people's own experiences. The story is hopeful, it's liberating and loving, and experiencing it I felt like it wasn't over.” 

Hibernian Hall, November 30 at 8pm
Multicultural Arts Center, December 16 at 8pm

Contact for touring:


Audience Feedback

"I loved the emotive nature of the show. I do believe Nina Simone would have approved! I am also struck at how the young people are connecting with the past and the important work of Nina Simone. Especially in how she was a complex person."

"I loved the collaboration between the dancer and musicians. I found this performance incredibly freeing!"

"Delicious phrasework and music, powerful performance quality from all performers, wonderful lighting, satisfying use of the boxes to create more texture in the space, and carefully considered transitions between songs/sections kept me riveted the whole time"

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For nina was funded thanks to


Credits for first iteration of For Nina


Victoria Lynn Awkward (she/her), Choreographer & Dancer

Desiré Graham (she/her), Vocalist & Music Director

Hua Ye (she/her), Pianist 



Aliza Franz (she/they), Rehearsal Director

Sasha Peterson (she/her), Dramaturg

Jolie Frazer-Madge (she/her), Stage Manager

Natalie Main (she/her), Stage Manager

Elmer Martinez (he/him), Lighting Designer 

Mikayla Williams (she/her), Set Designer

Theophile Victoria (he/him), Tech Support

Young Dance Artists 

Zaria Louis-Charles (Student of Urbanity Dance) 

Nora Welch


Jo-Mé Dance Arts Company II Under the Artistic Directors, May-Lisa Chandler, Joe Gonzalez: 

Aliyah German

Andrea Lopez

Leah Pires

Janiah Wimes

Page photos by Najee Brown

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