Dr. Suki John
Suki John, PhD, is an Associate Professor in the School for Classical & Contemporary Dance at Texas Christian University, where she has been awarded fellowships by the John V. Roach Honors College and the Coleman Foundation for Entrepreneurship. She has worked internationally as a dance artist and scholar -- teaching, choreographing, and writing about the intersections between dance, history and culture. She holds a BFA in Theater from the University of New Mexico, an MA in Dance Scholarship and Choreography from NYU’s Gallatin School, and a PhD in Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature from the University of Connecticut.
Suki studied dance in the schools of the Metropolitan Opera Ballet, Harkness, Joffrey, Ailey, Limon, Muller, Ballet West, Mary Anthony (with Anna Sokolow), Théâtre du Mouvement, Ritmo Flamenco, and Tina Bernal. She went on to perform with the London Festival Ballet (under the direction of Rudolf Nureyev), The Joffrey Upstarts, Rex Bickmore, Jennifer Muller, Sara Sugihara, Rachel Lampert, Living Art International, Dance Company Narciso Medina, The Horse’s Mouth, People’s Theater of Yugoslavia, and Theater Sang Real. She apprenticed as an assistant to choreographers Margo Sappington and Karen Azenburg, and with dance videographers Character Generators. Dr. John then focused on producing her work in New York City, Europe and Latin America. She has choreographed dance, theater and film for Ballet Nacional de Cuba, Danza Contemporánea de Cuba, Off-Off Broadway, Snug Harbor/Staten Island Center for the Arts, Narciso Medina, Danza Espiral, Ritmo Flamenco, The Culture Project, Connecticut Repertory Theater, Adelphi University, Cuba’s Superior Institute of the Arts, New York University, Texas Christian University, the University of New Mexico, Route 66 Dance Company --which she co-founded with Ninotchka Bennahum, Havana Festival of the Arts, and the International Ballet Festival of Havana.
Suki is a passionate advocate for Cuban dance -- as a choreographer, performer, and writer. Her acclaimed book, Contemporary Dance in Cuba: Técnica Cubana as Revolutionary Movement (McFarland 2012) is a personal and scholarly account of Cuba’s dancing culture. During her 2016 sabbatical she lived in Havana while workshopping her narrative choreodrama, Havana Love Letters, forging an unprecedented partnership between North American artists and Cuba’s renown national art schools:Instituto Superior de Arte (El ISA) and the Escuela Nacional de Arte (La ENA).Dr. John’s longtime collaborator, composer Joel Diamond, created the original score for Havana Love Letters, which is inspired by Gabriel García Márquez’ novel, Love in the Time of Cholera.
Sh'ma, her evening-length choreodrama, is based on Suki's family’s experience in the Holocaust. With a commission from the People’s Theater of Yugoslavia to write a libretto, direct, and choreograph an original work, Suki chose to tell her family's story, collaborating on the original score with composer Suba (Mitar Subotić). Sh’ma premiered in Novi Sad in the former Yugoslavia, right before the Bosnian war. Suki restaged Sh'ma in New York for the Jewish Voices Series at the 92nd St. Y and Washington Irving High School, chronicling the process in The New York Times. Sh’ma excerpts have been shown at the First New York Festival of Jewish Culture, YIVO, B’Nai Jeshrun, Fort Monmouth Army Base, Temple Beth El, and the Dallas Museum of Biblical Arts.
Her publications in mainstream, dance, and scholarly publications include work in Dance Magazine, Pointe, Ballet-tanz International, The New York Times, Four Seasons Magazine, The Village Voice, Oxford International Encyclopedia of Dance, Caribbean Dance, Dance Research Journal, Oxford Dictionary of Caribbean and Afro-Latin American Biography, and Routledge Encyclopedia of Modernism.
Suki is founder of Cuban Arts Match, an organization that brings Cuban and North American artists together, and co-founder of dance2degrees, designed to bring attention to the existential issue of climate change. She is Director of Dance for the Texas Jewish Arts Association.