ATLANTA (Nov. 13, 2014) — Aku Kadogo, performer, theater director, choreographer and educator, has been named Spelman College William and Camille Olivia Hanks Cosby Endowed Professor in the Arts for the 2014-2015 academic year. As the new Cosby Chair, Kadogo comes to Spelman with a global palette of experiences and performances in her portfolio.
Unlike many artists whose performance tours take them to other countries, Kadogo works with communities in other countries such as Brazil, Cuba, Australia, and Senegal to build her performance works. She most recently served as a visiting faculty member at Yongin University in Seoul, Korea. As a performer, she has worked in film, television and theater. She is one of the original cast members of the award-winning Broadway production of …for colored girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow is enuf by Ntozake Shange.
“Aku Kadogo was selected as the Cosby Chair in the Arts because of her stellar achievements in theater, choreography and education,” said Myra Burnett, Ph.D., Spelman interim provost and vice president for academic affairs. “She is a global ambassador of performance art, traversing continents and cultures with ease, giving and receiving as she goes. She is an outstanding model of excellence for our students, emanating a creative, imaginative, and interdisciplinary spirit that we hope they, too, will develop. We are delighted that she has come to us for this year.”
Kadogo’s academic experience includes serving as director of the Black Theatre Program at Wayne State University in Detroit from 2006 to 2011. As a faculty member, she directed plays and musicals as well as taught dramatic literature and performance studies courses.
“It’s a great honor to be selected as Cosby Chair,” said Kadogo. “I’ve led an independent and unique life and this affords me an opportunity to share my vision with others.”
The theme of her term as Cosby Chair is “Fearless Exploration of the Imagination!” During the academic year, Kadogo will teach courses through the Department of Drama and Dance and host globally recognized artists for lectures and performances. She also intends to explore ways in which African-American artists, curators, directors, and others articulate and maintain their cultural voice while immersed in an international art community.
“African Americans are missing from a lot of places in the international theater scene. I’m interested in finding out who is doing the work because if we go back to the Katherine Dunhams and Alvin Aileys of another generation, they were known and seen on the global stage,” said Kadogo, a Detroit native. “I find it to be a different world now. I want to examine where we come from [as African Americans and as artists] and how we link to others in the world.”
She added it’s important for her students to know the history of African Americans in the arts and to understand its present state in order to prepare for their future shaping and influencing their craft.
Kadogo’s fall semester course, “Urban Anthropological Approach to Performance Studies,” takes students through the creation of their own contemporary original work, which will incorporate music, dance and literature, and investigate ceremonial practices and political activism influenced by Asia, Africa, the South Pacific and the U.S.
Kadogo welcomes Marc Bamuthi Joseph to campus Nov. 18 for the conversation, “Where People Gather: Hip Hop, Activism and Innovation.” A Morehouse College graduate, Joseph was named by Smithsonian magazine as one of “America’s Top Young Innovators in the Arts and Sciences.” He is the artistic director of the seven-part HBO documentary “Russell Simmons presents Brave New Voices” and an inaugural recipient of the United States Artists Rockefeller Fellowship, which annually recognizes 50 of the country’s “greatest living artists.”
“I’m excited to have this conversation with an artist of another generation. I’ll be interested to hear how Joseph continues to develop as an artist and what it means for him to be an interdisciplinary artist,” said Kadogo.
“Where People Gather: Hip Hop, Activism and Innovation: A Conversation with Arts Activist Marc Bamuthi Joseph”
Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2014, 6 p.m. Free and open to the public.
Cosby Academic Center Auditorium
350 Spelman Lane S.W.
Atlanta, GA 30314
The William and Camille Cosby Endowed Professorship was established in 1988. The recipient utilizes the post for one year to expand the college’s curricular offerings by designing a course rooted in their specific area of expertise, and facilitating interdisciplinary initiatives. The residency concludes with a special culminating event developed and implemented by the Cosby Chair. Kadogo’s culminating event “Salt City” is set for April 25, 2015. The performance features Jessica Care Moore, poet, publisher, playwright, performance artist and producer. Read more about Kadogo’s artistic journey in Inside Spelman.
About Spelman College
Founded in 1881, Spelman College is a highly selective, liberal arts college widely recognized as the global leader in the education of women of African descent. Located in Atlanta, Ga., the College’s picturesque campus is home to 2,100 students. Outstanding alumnae include Children’s Defense Fund Founder Marian Wright Edelman; Sam’s Club CEO Rosalind Brewer, Broadway Producer Alia Jones, Former Acting Surgeon General and Spelman’s first alumna President Audrey Forbes Manley, Harvard University Professor Evelynn Hammonds, Author Pearl Cleage, and Actress LaTanya Richardson Jackson. For more information, visit www.spelman.edu.