Dr. Halifu Osumare is Professor Emerita in the Department of African American and African Studies (AAS) at University of California, Davis, and was the Director of AAS from 2011-2014. She has been a dancer, choreographer, arts administrator, and scholar of black popular culture for over forty years. With a Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of Hawai’i at Manoa, and an MA in Dance Ethnology from S.F. State University, she is also a protégé of the late renowned dancer-anthropologist Katherine Dunham and a Certified Instructor of Dunham Dance Technique.
As an artist-scholar, Dr. Osumare has performed, taught, and conducted research not only in the U.S., but also in Africa in the countries of Ghana, Nigeria, Malawi, and Kenya, and recently in Brazil. Her dancing, teaching and writing spans the traditional African to the contemporary African American. She has been recognized as one of the foremost scholars of global hip-hop, publishing The Africanist Aesthetic in Global Hip-Hop: Power Moves in 2007 and, and The Hiplife in Ghana: West African Indigenization of Hip-Hop in 2012, after her 2008 Fulbright Fellowship at the University of Ghana, Legon. She has published numerous journal articles and book chapters on hip-hop, dance, and Katherine Dunham.
As a dancer in the 1970s, she was a soloist with the Rod Rodgers Dance of New York City, and is noted particularly as a Director/Choreographer of works by poet and playwright, Ntozake Shange. After working with Ms. Shange in her pre-For Colored Girls Who’ve Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf tenure in the Bay Area, she later directed Shange’s For Colored Girls, and choreographed her From Okra to Greens—A Different Kinda Love Story, Spell # 7, and Boogie Woogie Landscape for university theater departments and community theater groups. She has also choreographed for San Francisco’s American Conservative Theater, including Miss Ever’s Boys in 1988, August Wilson’s Joe Turner’s Come and Gone in 1989, and Pecong in 1993 for which she won the Bay Area Drama Critics Circle Award for choreography.
As an arts administrator, Dr. Osumare founded Everybody’s Creative Arts Center in Oakland in 1977, and over the next ten years saw its transition into CitiCentre Dance Theatre (CDT), becoming one of the anchor tenet’s in Oakland’s Alice Arts Center, now the Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts. She not only became a member of CDT professional dance company, but also helped establish California’s multicultural arts movement. She has been a panelist for the California Arts Council, National Endowment for the Arts, The Pew Center for the Arts, and Haas Creative Fund. Between 1989-1995 she was the Founder and Executive Producer of her national dance initiative Black Choreographers Moving Toward the 21st Century.
Since retiring in 2016 from UC Davis, Dr. Osumare has returned to dance theater, choreographing the acclaimed work, “In The Eye of the Storm.” Sacramento State University dancers came together to realize her vision of the current 21st century social, political, and spiritual crisis, evidenced in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, the need for a new civil rights movement in “Black Lives Matter,” and the global terrorism crisis. Osumare’s “In The Eye of the Storm” was selected to be in San Francisco’s September 2017 Pushfest, representing her return to the concert stage after eleven years.