2020 Guggenheim Fellow Shamel Pitts is a performance artist, choreographer, conceptual artist, dancer, spoken word artist, and teacher.
Born in Brooklyn New York, Shamel began his dance training at LaGuardia High School for Music & Art and the Performing Arts and, simultaneously, at The Ailey School. He is 2003 YoungArts Finalist and a first prize (level 1) winner of the YoungArts competition. Shamel then went on to receive his BFA in Dance from The Juilliard School and was awarded the Martha Hill Award for excellence in dance. He began his dance career in Mikhail Baryshnikov’s Hell’s Kitchen Dance and BJM_Danse Montreal. Shamel danced with Batsheva Dance Company for 7 years, under the artistic direction of Ohad Naharin and is a certified teacher of Gaga movement language. Shamel has created a triptych of award winning multidisciplinary performance art works known as his “BLACK series” which has been performed and toured extensively to many festivals around the world since 2016. He is an adjunct at The Juilliard School and has been an artist in residence at Harvard University. Shamel is the choreographer of the play “Help” by acclaimed poet and playwright Claudia Rankine, directed by Taibi Magar, and commissioned at The Shed in New York. He is the recipient of a 2018 Princess Grace Award in Choreography and a 2019 NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowship Award winner in Choreography. Shamel is the artistic director/founder of TRIBE , a New York based multidisciplinary arts collective. TRIBE is a 92Y Harkness Dance Center’s Artist In Residence for the 2020-2021 season. For more information, visit www.shamelpitts.com or www.itsatribe.org.
Whether onstage or on the streets of Tel Aviv, Shamel Pitts commands attention. When performing with the Batsheva Dance Company, Israel’s premier contemporary dance troupe, he projects magnetic focus and pounces with ferocious abandon.
Brian Schaefer, The New York Times