Dr. Ayo Walker is an Assistant Professor in Theatre and Dance at Austin Peay State University where she continues to develop her academic research in the cultural biases inherent in the development of dance as an academic discipline in the U.S. and its ongoing peripheral inclusion of Black dance histories and all marked dance histories. As a Performance Studies practitioner with an emphasis in African American and African studies, her practice as research engages with the cultural racism that results in our society valuing different dance genres hierarchically. 

As an anti-racist educator utilizing culturally relevant and critical dance pedagogies, her praxis is committed to substantiating the techniques, vernaculars, and genealogies and embodiment of historically marginalized and othered dance aesthetics in higher education dance spaces. Specializing in Black dance aesthetics, her choreography and pedagogy is rooted in the “aesthetic of the cool” and the “get down” qualities evident in Africanist and Black dance aesthetics. Employing social justice choreography representative of anti-essentialist movement that is at once exposing and undoing stereotypical assumptions historically signifying the Black body politic, her works challenge what performing Blackness is and isn’t. Performed by her project-based/pick up dance company, Ayo & Company, her works have been commissioned by the University of Massachusetts Amherst, PUSHfest, National Dance Education Organization (NDEO), Sacramento/Black Art of Dance (S/BAD), and Rhythmically Speaking. Ayo & Company are thrilled to present two premier works “Things Have and Haven’t Changed” for MADCO’s 2022 Dare to Dance showcase and the 2022 Collegium for African Diaspora Dance (CADD) Conference as well as “Black Phoenix Rising” for the 2022 Alabama Dance Festival.