Sinclair Ogaga Emoghene

Assistant Professor

Department of Dance + Choreography

Sinclair Emoghene is both a dancer and a dance researcher whose work investigates the body as a performance surface, while reconstructing the ways that historical data in dance is structured, presented and archived. His work borders performance creation, place situating, cultural studies, experimental practice and dance technology. In 2016, Sinclair received their Masters of Fine Arts from the University of Maryland in College Park, MD and joined the faculty at the Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA in 2019. Amidst this journey, he has created works for the Nollywood audience in Nigeria/Africa, the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., and other prestigious institutions. As an assistant professor of dance at VCU (tenure-track), he teaches across the dance curriculum in theory, creative research and dance technique. His focus is in African and Contemporary dance practices, multi-racial engagement in academic and community spaces of confluence, and the production of new literature for African dance in world contexts. Sinclair’s research interests use historicity, archival description accuracy, data relocation/repatriation, provenance, provenience and context research as the basis for a more holistic approach and formidable cross-cultural understanding in dance culture research.

His newest book co-authored with Dr. Kate Spanos is Dancing in the World; Revealing Cultural Confluences, (Routledge – Taylor and Francis, 2023) and is about the ways that cultures meet in spaces, share cultural knowledge, and the dynamics of power, dominance, and the flow in and out of dominance and subjugation within spaces where multicultural, multi-identity and multi-racial groups meet and interact with each other. In addition to the book are a podcast and dance documentary film that expand the topics in the books for a more engaging and easy access for the communities they intend to reach. The book received the VCUArts Dean’s Research grant 2021, and the book podcast has received the Maryland State Arts Council’s Creativity Grant award in 2022, which will allow the production of the first series of the book podcast. They are in creative research and planning for the large-scale documentary film which promises to espouse the intricacies and complexities of spaces where dance meets, happens and cross-pollinates. The documentary focuses on their “dance confluence” research framework which looks more intricately at the minorization/majoritization of peoples through the ways that they dance.  

In his newest large-scale research endeavor, Sinclair together with Dr. Mary Caton Lingold (VCU English Department), and in collaboration with the US Library of Congress in Washington D.C., the Association for Cultural Equity in New York, and movement analysts including; Karen Bradley, Dr. Forrestine Pauley and Dr. Anna Lomax-Wood, with African dance Professors Dr. Chris Ugolo, Momar Ndiaye (OSU) and Mustapha Braimah (Goucher College) Sinclair is working on creating a new digital humanities project that looks at the dances of Africa, how they are archived in modern institutions, how they are described, who uses them and how they can be accessible to the communities where they originate. This work has received positive reviews and has also been called a significant piece of research for the modern world by renowned scholars and evaluators from around the world. This digital public humanities project will increase the users’ understanding of the cross-cultural roots, applications, compositions, histories, technologies, and the cross-pollination of dance in Africa and the Diaspora communities. This work reveals archived traditional dance cultures from the period 1900s through present day where dances of African creations can be visualized, re-described, analyzed, archived and repatriated. 

As an artist, Sinclair’s work cuts across the dance-making field as creative, cultural and community practice. He makes works for different media that spread indiscriminately across film, stage, community spaces and site-specific localized spaces. His stage work is regularly shown at the VCU Dance Faculty concert, but many of his stage works have been presented at internationally known venues like the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C., the Clarice Performing Arts Center, the University of Lagos, University of Jos, Jos Repertory Theater and the University of Benin, in Nigeria. His newest significant stage work premiered at the John F. Kennedy Center (KC) in Washington D.C. in 2020 just before the pandemic lockdown. This work was titled Kaleidoscope of Tuts (KoTs) and was presented at the Black History Month festival. Kaleidoscope of Tuts was performed live in a sold out performance and was also broadcast live on KC’s worldwide streaming platforms to over eight thousand live viewers across all KC social platforms. Along with presenting on stage, the John F. Kennedy Center awarded Sinclair (the first dance artist to receive the Office Hours at the REACH – KC’s new ultra modern south campus) a week-long residency to make the new site-specific work titled Facets of Esoterics that premiered at both the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. and at the VCU Anderson Gallery in Richmond, VA. As a historical journey in film, in 2011, he was commissioned to choreograph the first feature length dance film in Nigeria titled I’ll Take My Chances produced by the Royal Arts Academy in Lagos, Nigeria. Receiving a positive review from the African film communities home and abroad, this film project set Sinclair on a journey as a dance film maker, enthusiast and researcher. In film research, Sinclair’s newest work is Therapy, a short dance film that investigates the issues of mental health and the re-traumatization of the mind/body during and after therapy. This dance film is available on YouTube but premiered at the VCU Faculty Dance Concert in 2021. 

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