Theatre and Dance alumnus combines art with political activism

Amadi Washington '14

Amadi Washington ’14 began dancing at nine years old, when his elementary school included an African dance class in their curriculum. As he continued through high school, he only took more and more dance classes before coming to The College of Wooster as a theatre and dance major. Since graduating Washington has combined his interest in dance with political protest to create movement art that he hopes will inspire others to get involved in activist movements. 

As he considered which colleges to attend, Wooster stood out to Washington because of its liberal arts curriculum combined with a robust Department of Theatre and Dance, something he didn’t see in many other schools. When he stayed with a Wooster student and attended classes as part of his college search, he immediately connected with the campus. “I felt really good and was welcomed by the student body, even if I was only there for three days,” he recalls.  

At Wooster, he took classes in dance technique, but also learned how to analyze and discuss dance, create concepts for new pieces, and discuss dance with an audience who may not have any background in the arts. “I had a lot of input into my dance training that was intellectual just as much as it was physical and practical in the studio, which probably relates to my desire to create art and not just move,” Washington said, which led to an interest in not only performing art but also creating and directing it. Part of Wooster’s dance curriculum that he appreciated the most is that he was taught how to come up with concepts for new pieces and design a performance from start to finish and how to talk about dance in ways that are understandable for people without a background in the arts. 

 Washington also took courses in subjects outside of dance as part of the College’s liberal arts curriculum, something he believes was beneficial both academically and personally. “A liberal arts education exposes you to a broad variety of ideas and subjects so that your sense of yourself is holistic,” he said. “I don’t think I would be the same person if I went to a conservatory.” 

Washington uses a multidisciplinary perspective in his career in dance. Not only does he do a little bit of everything in the world of dance, such as performing, directing, choreographing, but he also works to highlight the intersection of dance with political issues. With collaborator and friend Sam Pratt, he created the movement art duo Baye & Asa, which uses choreography based in African and hip-hop dance styles to create political metaphors and interrogate systemic inequities they see in the world around them. The two of them were even named one of Dance magazine’s “25 to Watch” in 2022. 

“The topics that I’m interested in exploring as a choreographer are oftentimes political and related to the environment that I live in, and multidisciplinary learning is what allows you to reflect on the world that you live in and expand your thinking around what dance can be,” Washington explained. “I feel lucky and grateful that I chose to go to a liberal arts school like Wooster.”

Image: Amadi Washington ’14 in his performance piece “The Bank”

Posted in Alumni on March 13, 2023.