Tap Dancer Ayodele Casel Named 2019-2020 Fellow At Radcliffe Institute For Advanced Study At Harvard University

Ayodele Casel Taps on the Street for The New York Times #SpeakingInDance (2017)

(New York) – Ayodele Casel,a disciplined and brave performer who honors the roots of tap dance while pushing the boundaries of the art form, has been named a 2019–2020 Frances B.Cashin fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University. Joining more than 50 incoming fellows as they pursue work across the sciences, social sciences, humanities, and art, Ayodele will direct her energy toward research and development of a new theatrical work inspired by the historical context of tap dance’s cultural heritage.

Casel is among the 3.7 percent of applicants accepted into the Radcliffe Institute. While in residence, Radcliffe Institute fellows present lectures and exhibitions to the public, participate in cross-disciplinary study groups, and work closely with undergraduate Harvard students who serve as research partners. The Radcliffe Institute has awarded more than 900 fellowships since its founding in 1999. Casel will reside in both Boston and New York during the fellowship.

Ayodele Casel (Photo by Michael Higgins)

Additionally, Casel will premiere a new work in collaboration with six-time Grammy Award winner Arturo O’Farrillat The Joyce Theater, September 24-29. Hailing from Afro-Latin roots, Casel and O’Farrill, along with an astonishing ensemble of tap dancers and musicians, will explore their common musical language in a work that celebrates culture, legacy and artistry.

Known for paying homage to the women in tap that paved the way for her, Ayodele Casel uses rhythm and language as the bridge that connects the past, present, and future of her craft. While tap as an art form has historically been rooted in its masculine legacy, Casel’s work strips away limiting stereotypes and creates new conversations with resonant artistic integrity and a deep commitment to social justice.

Ayodele Casel Performs While I Have The Floor for Broadway For Hillary Fundraiser (2016)

“It is a tremendous honor to bring the full breadth of who I am as a Black and Puerto Rican artist to Harvard University and The Joyce Theater, this fall,” states Casel. “It brings me great pride to represent the lineage of African-American women tap dancers who, because of social and racial injustice, were kept from realizing their full artistic potential and impact. Collaborating with maestro Arturo O’Farrill, an artist whose glorious creative expression is an extension of his extraordinary humanity, is beautifully aligned with my mission to create work that is rooted in identity, culture, and the sophistication and elegance of tap dance.”


Ayodele Casel, tap dancer, actor, choreographer, and native New Yorker has steadfastly become an internationally sought-after artist and powerful voice for her art form. Moving from the Bronx to Puerto Rico during her formative years lead to her obsession with language and communication. She took her first tap class while studying theatre at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and shortly after went on to work with legendary tap dancers Gregory Hines, and Savion Glover as the only woman in his company N.Y.O.T.s. (Not Your Ordinary Tappers).

Ayodele Casel (Photo by Patrick Randak)

Ayodele Casel’s narrative-driven solo and group works “While I Have the Floor,” “Rooted,” and “Diary of A Tap Dancer,” are anchored by her enchanting fluency in verbal and rhythmic expression. Ayodele is a passionate educator and is currently the Director of Graduate Programs at A BroaderWay Foundation, where she mentors young women from Harlem and The Bronx. She is also the Co-Director of Original Tap House and Operation: Tap. For more: ayodelecasel.com


The Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study is a unique space within Harvard—a school dedicated to creating and sharing transformative ideas across all disciplines. Each year, the Institute hosts about 50 leading scholars, scientists, and artists from around the world in its renowned residential fellowship program. Radcliffe fosters innovative research collaborations and offers hundreds of public lectures, exhibitions, performances, conferences, and other events annually. The Institute is home to the Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library,the nation’s foremost archive on the history of women, gender, and sexuality. For more information about the people and programs of the Radcliffe Institute, visit radcliffe.harvard.edu


Born in Mexico and raised in New York City, Arturo O’Farrill is a pianist, composer, and educator. He received his formal musical education at the Manhattan School of Music and the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College. Arturo’s professional career began with the Carla Bley Band and continued as a solo performer with a wide spectrum of artists including Dizzy Gillespie, Lester Bowie, Wynton Marsalis, and Harry Belafonte. In 2007, he founded the Afro Latin Jazz Alliance as a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the performance, education, and preservation of Afro Latin music. Learn more about ALJA here: afrolatinjazz.org

An avid supporter of all the Arts, Arturo has performed with Ballet Hispanico, Ron Brown’s EVIDENCE Dance company, and the Malpaso Dance Company, for whom he has written two ballets. Arturo’s well-reviewed and highly praised “Afro-Latin Jazz Suite” from the current album CUBA: The Conversation Continues (Motéma) took the 2016 Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Composition as well as the 2016 Latin Grammy Award (his fifth Grammy) for Best Latin Jazz Recording. In addition, his composition “Three Revolutions” from the album Familia-Tribute to Chico and Bebo also received the Best Instrumental Composition Grammy in 2018.


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