Dr. Adesola Akinleye is an interdisciplinary artist-scholar and choreographer. She began her career as a dancer with Dance Theatre of Harlem Workshop Ensemble (USA) later working in UK Companies such as Green Candle, and Carol Straker Dance Company. Over the past twenty years she has created works ranging from  films, installation and texts to live performance that is often site-specific and involves a cross-section of the community as well as acting as guest choreographer for university programs and professional company repertoire. Her work is characterized by an interest in glimpsing and voicing peoples lived experiences through creative moving portraiture.

A key aspect of her process is the artistry of opening creative practices to everyone from women in low wage employment to ballerinas to performance for young audiences. Akinleye foundered and is co-artistic director of DancingStrong Movement Lab.  Working with Dancingstrong Movement Lab co-director, Helen Kindred, their new work Concrete-Water-Flesh, a hybrid physical-web-based live performance piece, seeing performance art as living across geographic location and across time. DancingStrong Movement Lab. also includes triip Lab (turning research ideas into practice) to cultivate a unique multi-generational, multi-disciplinary nurturing and practice-based ensemble space.

Akinleye is an Assistant Professor in the School of the Arts, Dance Division at Texas Woman’s University. She is a Research Fellow with Theatrum Mundi and visiting lecturer at Central School Saint Martins, Spatial Practices Department. She is a Visiting Artist 2020–2022 at the Center for Art, Science & Technology (CAST) at MIT and a Research Affiliate in the Art, Culture, and Technology program at MIT.

In her residency at MIT, Akinleye explores how dance-based research and creative collaboration across disciplines can create new techniques, lexicons, and conversations within urban design. Working with ACT Associate Professor Gediminas Urbonas, Akinleye collaborates with MIT faculty, researchers, and students in Urban Planning, ACT, and the Media Lab, as well as external collaborators from Theatrum Mundi, an organization that engages in research and teaching on the public lives of cities.

Akinleye sees choreography as a “four-dimensional language” that can contribute to larger multi-disciplinary discussions about urban design and place-making. She explores using movement as method for understanding the time/space of place-making. Capturing the somatic experience of Place as a form of data, her work complements the objective spatial data. She asks the question: How does it feel to be present here?

Akinleye’s residency project has taken form in two parts. Firstly, exploring how the bodily experience of dance can add to transdisciplinary languages or lexicons for exploring place-making. Secondly, looking at how this lexicon contributes to articulating the experience of Place in terms of the identities places initiate in the human and non-human communities that inhabit them.

Through lectures, performances, workshops, and class discussions, Akinleye poses questions such as: Within our practices, how do we become attentive to a community’s emotional, cultural, and corporeal memory in order to move beyond the codified routes used to initially understand them? What approaches can we take to see the City as facilitated by an art of infrastructure? Can we see the City as a collaborative entity shaped through somatic knowledge of a Place? What tools do communities have to describe the experience of Being in the Places they live? How do we make spaces for the embodied in our practices?

Akinleye has published in the field of dance scholarship as well as cultural and social studies. Her work includes the editing and curation of Narratives in Black British Dance: embodied practices (2018), for which she was shortlisted for One Dance UK’s Impact in Dance Writing Award (2018). Recent publications include editing and curating the  anthology (re:)claiming ballet  (2021) and  Akinleye’s first monograph Dance, Architecture and Engineering (2021).

For her choreographic work, Akinleye has been awarded ADAD Trailblazer, Bonnie Bird, New Choreography Award and One Dance UK Champion Trailblazer. For her work in community dance and education she was awarded Woman of the year in Community Dance by the Town of Islip, New York. She is a Fellow of Fellow of the Higher Academy  (FHEA)   Royal Society of Arts (RSA).   She holds a PhD from Canterbury Christ Church University, MA (distinction) in work-based learning Dance in Community and Education (2007), and an MA in Film (distinction) 2020 from Middlesex University. Akinleye is also a certified Gyrotonic and Gyrokinesis instructor. She currently lives between London and Texas.