Born in Stillwater, Oklahoma, Arneshia Williams is a choreographer, educator, and performer specializing in contemporary dance and traditions of the African Diaspora. This genre provides a rich arena for the study of decoloniality, contemporary aesthetic practices, and spirituality. Arneshia broadens access by expanding who and how people envision themselves in dance performance, choreography, and education.
Arneshia was a Generating Room artist for the Cowles Center for Dance and the Performing Arts and has been awarded residencies at Breck Create, Azule, New York Mills, and Gustavus College. Her work has been supported by Red Eye Theater, a multidisciplinary creative laboratory in Minnesota. To further her dance studies, she has received scholarships and fellowships from Jacob’s Pillow and American Dance Festival. She danced works by Jacquelyn Stokes, Minister Gail Faust, Gesel Mason, Helanius Wilkins, Larry Southall, and Teena Marie Custer. As a choreographer, her work has been shown as the Exchange Choreography Festival, Cowles Center/Tek Box, Gustavus College, and Flaten Art Museum.
She received a To Include is To Excel grant from St. Olaf College, supported by the Mellon Foundation, to produce the WE Project, a transdisciplinary dance project that highlighted movement knowledge from identities that are traditionally considered non-normative and less visible in dance academia – BIPOC. Her research on the intersections of the Black community, choreographic practices, race, and spirituality was published in the Journal of Dance, Movement, and Spiritualities. She has presented lectures and workshops at the Collegium for African Diaspora Dance, Imagining America, South Carolina Council for African American Studies, and the National Dance Association.
Arneshia completed her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance at Howard University. She received her Master of Fine Arts degree with fellowships from the University of Colorado Boulder where she received a Certificate in Comparative Ethnic Studies and a secondary emphasis in religion. She joined St. Olaf College as a Visiting Assistant Professor of Dance in 2017 and frequently partners with the Taylor Center for Equity and Inclusion, introducing dance as a moving and healing practice to many students.
She enjoys the sun, song, movement, and loves her family. You'll find her at a concert, local restaurant, or park - especially when it's 70 degrees and above.