Nailah Randall-Bellinger is a dancer, choreographer, scholar, educator, and founding artistic director of RootsUprising Dance Company based in Boston, MA. She has studied, performed, and lectured throughout the U.S. and abroad including Brazil, Ghana, Haiti, The Czech Republic, and Senegal. With a Masters Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies: Dance and African American literature from Lesley University, Randall-Bellinger’s choreographic work is rooted in interdisciplinary research, often drawing from literary and historical source materials. She has a keen interest and expertise in dance as epistemology and has developed the concept of the “dancing text” as a means to explore the corporeality of dance.
Randall-Bellinger trained with Jamie Nichols, Karen McDonald, Raymond Johnson, and Gerarld McCall in California, in modern, jazz, and ballet. She began her professional performing career in Los Angeles, CA, where she was a performing member of contemporary dance companies: Karen McDonald’s New Age Dance Workshop and Jamie Nichols Fast Feet, Inc. She collaborated with film director and poet S. Pearl Sharp as a dancer, choreographer, and literary translator for her book Black Women for Beginners.
Randall-Bellinger has been teaching modern and contemporary classes throughout the U.S. and abroad for over 35 years. She currently serves as Chair of the Dance Department at The Cambridge School of Weston, in Weston, MA, and is also Teaching Artist faculty at Harvard Dance Center at Harvard University. She has taught at both institutions for over a decade. Randall-Bellinger was formerly Assistant Professor of Dance at Dean College in Franklin, MA, where she taught courses in modern dance, dance composition, dance history, and dance in film survey.
In 1998 Randall-Bellinger presented her work Dancing Beloved, a retelling of Toni Morrison’s story of Margaret Garner, performed by her newly founded company RootsUprising as part of the Gendered Resistance Conference at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. She is also one of the contributing writers to the book Gendered Resistance, a written account of the conference, published in 2013.
In 2015, Randall-Bellinger collaborated with a group of artists in Cambridge to give voice to the voiceless in the production of Stories Without Roofs: Transitions, a show consisting of the essays, monologues, poetry, songs, dance and general musings of residents of shelters in the city of Cambridge. She has created original works for Boston-based contemporary dance company Urbanity and was choreographer for the Boston production Ragtime at Wheelock Family Theater. In 2017, her company RootsUprising performed at the Harvard’s Black in Design conference. In 2020, she was awarded the Alorie Parkhill Learning and Travel Grant to study expressions of dance, which will take her to Kenya in the summer of 2022.
In Spring 2021, Randall-Bellinger facilitated the first of a series of virtual artist-led discussions around artistry, identity, and advocacy, where she presented her film works #shesstillbreathing and Women’s Work, both inspired and constructed within the constraints of the Covid-19 pandemic. She was a collaborating choreographer for Movement Meditations, as part of the A.R.T.’s The Arboretum Experience.
Randall-Bellinger was one of seven artists commissioned by the Harvard University Committee on the Arts (HUCA) in 2021 to create a new work on campus, and which was developed through a residency at Harvard Dance Center. The work, titled Initiation– In Love Solidarity and performed by her company RootsUprising, explores the embodiment of the Middle Passage, and the resilience and evolving identities of women in the African diaspora. A site-specific, interdisciplinary, hybrid work, Initiation– In Love Solidarity exists as both a dance film and as a live, place-based performance.
While in residence at Harvard Dance Center in the summer and fall of 2021, Randall-Bellinger was in direct dialogue with a range of Harvard scholars and fellows and the work was presented in various modalities across campus alongside robust public discussions. In March 2022, Initiation– In love Solidarity was presented by the Cambridge Arts Council and will be included in Harvard’s Presidential Initiative on Harvard & the Legacy of Slavery digital archive and walking tour, to be published in spring 2022.
|RootsUprising presents “Reconsidering”||
Founding artistic director of RootsUprising Dance Company