Photos by Laichee Yang.

Alessandra Williams, PhD, is a dancer and scholar who is assistant professor of dance at Rutgers University-New Brunswick and whose academic interests include dance and performance, and race, gender, sexuality, and transnationalism. From 2018-2019, Williams served as Inclusive Excellence Fellow in Women’s and Gender Studies and Theatre and Dance at University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. As Eugene V. Cota-Robles Fellow, Williams earned a Ph.D. and M.A. in Culture and Performance at UCLA and through the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship, finished the B.A. with honors in American Studies and Dance at Macalester College.  Originally from Minneapolis, Williams’ work as a community organizer led to receiving the 2010 Minnesota Grassroots Solutions Organizer of the Year Award.

Having joined the Minneapolis-based Ananya Dance Theatre to be immersed in the company’s Yorchhā technique in 2006, Williams has performed in Dastak (2021), Sutrajāl (2019), Shaatranga (2018), Shyamali (2017), Horidraa (2016), Roktim (2015), Moreechika (2012), Ashesh Barsha (2009), and Pipaashaa (2007). Alongside Ananya Chatterjea and Hui Wilcox, Williams is co-editor of their anthology Dancing Transnational Feminisms: Ananya Dance Theatre and the Art of Social Justice.

Furthermore, Williams has a solo-authored book project on the relationship between race, gender, and queer lives in the choreography of David Roussève/REALITY dance company. Her writings can also be found in TDR (“A Radical Practice of Inclusion” 2022).

Pedagogy and social justice are at the forefront of her practice as an educator, as she has been awarded funding to immerse dance students in the role of the arts in community engagement, such as her 2021 work with the “Shelter” project of Co-Lab Arts on the oral histories of unhoused persons in New Brunswick. She grows increasingly interested in establishing public platforms for interdisciplinary artists to present their work, demonstrated by her initiative as a grant recipient with the Institute for the Study of Global Racial Justice, to present choreographer David Roussève and the REALITY dance company at Rutgers University in a 2023 series of master classes, student and faculty dialogues, and an evening/live-streamed event under the frame of “queer black dance.”