Adesola Akinleye

2020-22 CAST Ida Ely Rubin Artist in Residence

Adesola Akinleye. Image credit: Lisa Gilby.

Investigating the embodied choreography of urban space

About the Residency

Artist-scholar Adesola Akinleye’s residency at MIT explores how dance-based research and creative collaboration across disciplines can create new techniques, lexicons, and conversations within urban design. Working with  Gediminas Urbonas, Associate Professor in the Art, Culture, and Technology program at MIT (ACT), Akinleye collaborates with faculty, researchers, and students in ACT, Music & Theater Arts, and MIT.nano as well as external collaborators from Theatrum Mundi, an organization that engages in research and teaching on the public lives of cities.

Akinleye sees choreography as a “four-dimensional language” that can contribute to larger multi-disciplinary discussions about urban design and place-making. She explores using movement as method for understanding the time/space of place-making. Capturing the somatic experience of Place as a form of data, her work complements the objective spatial data. She asks the question: How does it feel to be present here?

Akinleye’s residency project has taken form in two parts. Firstly, exploring how the bodily experience of dance can add to transdisciplinary languages or lexicons for exploring place-making. Secondly, looking at how this lexicon contributes to articulating the experience of Place in terms of the identities places initiate in the human and non-human communities that inhabit them. 

Through lectures, performances, workshops, and class discussions, Akinleye poses questions such as: Within our practices, how do we become attentive to a community’s emotional, cultural, and corporeal memory in order to move beyond the codified routes used to initially understand them? What approaches can we take to see the City as facilitated by an art of infrastructure? Can we see the City as a collaborative entity shaped through somatic knowledge of a Place? What tools do communities have to describe the experience of Being in the Places they live? How do we make spaces for the embodied in our practices?

This artist residency is supported by the Ida Ely Rubin Artists in Residence Fund. 


Past Events

Soma Salons | Art & the Public Sphere: Choreographing the City
Tuesday, May 3; Saturday, May 7; and Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Adesola Akinleye | Choreographing the City: Navigations
Monday, March 7, 2022 / 6:00 pm EST

Adesola Akinleye Book Launch (Virtual)
Thursday, May 6, 2021 / 12:30pm

Fall 2020 Class offered by the MIT Program in Art, Culture & Technology
4.314/5 Advanced Workshop in Artistic Practice and Transdisciplinary Research: Choreographing the City

Choreographing the City Morning Conversations

Ellie Cosgrave, Director, University College London Urban Innovation Lab
September 14, 2020 / 10:30am

Dianne MacIntyre, Dancer and Choreographer
September 28, 2020 / 10:30am

Richard Sennett, Chair, Urban Initiatives Group – UN Habitat, Chair, Theatrum Mundi
October 5, 2020 / 10:30am

Arianna Mazzeo, Visiting Professor of Practice in Design, Art, and Technology, Harvard University
November 2, 2020 / 11:00am

Hūfanga ‘Ōkusitino Māhina, Professor of Tongan Studies, Founder and Director, Vava‘u Academy for Critical Inquiry and Applied Research
November 2, 2020 / 5:30pm (morning in Aotearoa New Zealand)

Scott L. Pratt, Professor of Philosophy, University of Oregon
November 9, 2020 / 11:30am

John Bingham-Hall, Director, Theatrum Mundi
November 16, 2020 / 11:30am

Liz Lerman, Choreographer and Founder, Liz Lerman Dance Exchange
November 30, 2020 / 11:30am

Final Presentations
December 7, 2020 / 9:30am – 12:30pm

Collaborators at MIT

Gediminas Urbonas is an Associate Professor in the MIT Program in Art, Culture and Technology. Along with Nomeda Urbonas, he co-founded Urbonas Studio, an interdisciplinary research practice that advocates for the reclamation of public space, stimulating cultural and political imagination as tools for social change.

Combining new and old media, Urbonas Studio’s work frequently involves collective activities contributing to the cross-disciplinary exchange among several nodes of knowledge production: network and participatory technologies; sensorial media and public space; environmental remediation design and spatial organization; and alternative planning design integration. They also collaborate with experts in different cultural fields to develop practice-based artistic research models that allow participants—including their students—to pursue projects that merge urbanism, new media, social sciences, and pedagogy to critically address the transformation of civic space.

Urbonas has exhibited internationally, including at the São Paulo, Berlin, Moscow, Lyon, and Gwangju biennales—and at the Manifesta and Documenta exhibitions—among numerous other international shows, including a solo show at the Venice Architecture Biennale and Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA).

Biography: Art, Culture and Technology Program at MIT


Dr. Adesola Akinleye is a choreographer and artist-scholar. She is an Assistant Professor in the Dance Division at Texas Woman’s University (TWU), Affiliate Researcher in the Art, Culture, and Technology Program (ACT) at MIT, Theatrum Mundi Fellow, and serves on the editorial board of the Dance Research Journal. Prior to joining TWU, Akinleye had a studio at the University of Arts London’s M ARCH and Spatial Practices Department. 

She began her career as a dancer with Dance Theatre of Harlem Workshop Ensemble (USA) and went on to work with UK companies such as Green Candle Dance Company and Carol Straker Dance Company. Over the past twenty years she has created dance works ranging from films, installations, and texts to live performance that is often site-specific and involves a cross-section of the community. Her work is characterized by an interest in voicing people’s lived-experiences in places through creative moving portraiture. A key aspect of Akinleye’s process is the artistry of opening creative practices to everyone from ballerinas and architects to women in low-wage employment and young audiences.

Akinleye founded and is co-artistic director of DancingStrong Movement Lab, including the “triip” (turning research ideas into practice) project, which aims to cultivate and foster unique multi-generational, multi-disciplinary ensemble spaces for the creation of new works. The movement lab includes research and development for her work with Helen Kindred Concrete-Water-Flesh, a hybrid physical and web-based performance piece. 

Akinleye has won awards internationally for her choreography, and her work has been published in the field of dance scholarship as well as cultural and social studies. Her most recent monograph, Dance, Architecture and Engineering: Dance in Dialogue, is part of the Society for Dance Research In Conversation series.

Biography: Adesola Akinleye
Website: DancingStrong Movement Lab