S. Ama Wray

Dr. S. Ama Wray is the creator of Embodiology®, is a new sensi-cognitive movement practice that combines individual expression, body-mind dexterity and community building, together in an experience that is joyous, insightful and vitalizing. She received The Emerging Scholar Award from the International Comparative & International Education Society in 2018. She completed her PhD at the University of Surrey, developing the practical and theoretical landscape that is Embodiology®. She demonstrates how her movement inspires her mind in her TEDxTalk entitled, Bodily Steps to Innovation. Institutions seeking her expertise to demystify improvisation and creativity include: The University of Wisconsin-Madison, Temple University, Florida International University, Middlesex University, University of Ghana, Legon and New Waves Institute, Trinidad and Tobago. Her Embodiology® practice and research into improvisation now extend to working with scientists, medical doctors and entrepreneurs who have learned of the capacity that improvisers have to collaborate, remain flexible and access the production of spontaneous novelty. Recent publications include: “A Hybrid Neo-African Improvisation-as-Performance Practice Distinguished by Dynamic Rhythm,” within The Oxford Handbook of Improvisation in Dance, edited by Vida Midgelow (2019), and an introductory iteration of Embodiology® concepts are introduced in, “Just after the Pulse, Rhythm Takes All: The Inside Habitat of Improvisation,” British Dance, Black Routes, edited by Christy Adair and Ramsay Burt (2017). She is currently Associate Professor of Dance, Affiliate Faculty of African American Studies and co-founder of AICRE (Africana Institute for Creativity, Recognition and Elevation) at the University of California, Irvine, and the Artistic Director of JazzXchange.

In the UK she was a leading member of premier dance companies: London Contemporary Dance Theatre and Rambert Dance Company; moreover, she is also widely known for her role as performer and custodian of Harmonica Breakdown (1938), choreographed by Jane Dudley. She also founded JazzXchange Music and Dance Company, collaborating with musicians including Wynton Marsalis, Gary Crosby, Zoe Rahman and Julian Joseph. In 2014 she reestablished the company in the USA. Her improvisation praxis has also reached into digital domains, her National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts Fellowship produced the award winning Texterritory, an interactive cell phone-based performance platform created in collaboration with Fleeta Siegel. Alongside choreography she has regularly directed African-centered physical theater plays by activist playwright/performer Mojisola Adebayo. Muhammad Ali and Me and Moj of the Antarctic toured both the UK and Southern Africa.