top of page

about

Helanius J Wilkins
On this page:          biography   |    teaching & practice    |   booking 
Framework

BIOGRAPHY

Choreography

Helanius J. Wilkins is an award-winning choreographer, performance artist, artivist, and educator who engages artmaking to forge paths towards social change and equitable landscapes.

choreography

Helanius enjoys creating, presenting, and receiving commissions for choreography throughout the United States and abroad. He has choreographed and directed over 60 works, including two critically-acclaimed musical productions for Washington, DC’s Studio Theater – “Passing Strange” (2010) and “POP!” (2011). He founded and artistically directed EDGEWORKS Dance Theater in Washington DC, a dance company predominantly of Black men that existed for 13 years. EDGWORKS was the primary repository for his choreography from 2001 – 2014.  

performance

Currently performing his own choreography exclusively, he engages in a ritual: ritual as an experience of uncertainty that penetrates states of fatigue and exhaustion. At the core of his work are personal, lived experiences. Past performance experiences included the works of nationally recognized choreographers such as Robert Moses and Kevin Wynn and performing with Maida Withers’ Dance Construction Company (DC) and as a guest with the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange (MD). 

Awards | honors

Foundations and organizations including New England Foundation for the Arts (National Dance Project), National Performance Network, Colorado Creative Industries, the D.C. Commission on the Arts & Humanities, and the National Endowment for the Arts have supported his work. His honors include the 2008 Pola Nirenska Award for Contemporary Achievement in Dance, and the 2002 and 2006 Kennedy Center Local Dance Commissioning Project Award. Bates Dance Festival named him their 2002 Emerging Choreographer.  

service

Service is integral to his work. Helanius commits to service because it is his way of dreaming and actively doing. He is a member of the National Board of Directors of the American College Dance Association for the Northwest region and serves on boards and advisory committees for Colorado state and nonprofit organizations. He was appointed in 2018 by Governor Jared Polis to the Colorado Council on Creative Industries and completed a 4-year term. 

In the Academy


Helanius is currently Associate Chair and Director of Dance and a Professor in the Department of Theatre & Dance at the University of Colorado Boulder. His 25+ years career in the academy included various positions from guest artist in residence to visiting professor. Core to his work is providing a multilingual and multisensory approach to movement that deepens awareness, and that prepares students for the demands of an ever-changing field.

  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Instagram
  • Twitter
Helanius_1575_edited_edited_edited_edite
disrupting the erasure of

silenced
        stories

Framework

teaching and practice

Framework- A contemporary technique practice

FRAMEWORK, an evolving practice developed by Helanius J. Wilkins, is a rigorous practice that transforms technique class into a laboratory for examining, exploring, and discovering bodily movements in real time. Informed by architectural concepts, the joy of daring dance is experienced through the activity of framing and re-framing structures where individual and collective discoveries can be made. Structures, cued by action narratives that serve as a guide for participants, meld notions of space together with ways of communicating through the body.

 

FRAMEWORK, as a movement technique, is a viscerally charged ongoing practice, resembling a ritual that employs recovery through activity. Specific design, time, and effort modules are built resulting in choreographic phrases and expressions. By assembling structures for students to inhabit, the ultimate goal of FRAMEWORK is to question communication, refine technical ability and artistry, and interrogate one’s interior material. When fully committed to the rigors of the work, sensory engagement can be triggered bringing these architectural spaces to life.

teaching​

 

My teaching aims to enrich students’ views of their potential as artists and citizens, and to shed light on contributions made by artists of the global majority, particularly African American dancers and choreographers.

  • I facilitate discussions and guided improvisations which create opportunities for choice-making.
     

  • I emphasize courage as a pathway towards vulnerability and creativity.
     

  • I use current events to encourage students to activate their curiosity and to experiment, question, feel, think, reflect, and communicate their experiences with honesty, compassion, fluidity, and strength.
     

  • I view our physical languages as aspects of our human experiences, and use them to make sense of the world around us and the role of artists as citizens.
     

  • I encourage students to be brave and courageous, to find empowerment in their own identities and challenge the norm.
     

practice​

Instead of focusing on movement phrases or shapes, I focus on modules of design, time, and effort as a means of unraveling what we think we already know about our lived experiences. 

 

My FRAMEWORK practice transforms classes into laboratories for examining, exploring, and discovering bodily movements in real time. Inspired by architecture, the practice moves students from structure through improvisation to phrase work that offers room for individuality, memory recall, and performance presence.

research​

I research how geographical and architectural landscapes influence shifts in our personal positioning and identities.

I build creative research strategies by melding text with richly physicalized ritual and memories.

 

I use remembering as a way to piece together and liberate Black identity through performance.

 

Through analyzing space, time, movement, and meaning, bodies become vessels of communication, sharing new ways of seeing, understanding, and reinventing.

I construct environments that use multiple perspectives and team-based learning to uncover content and deepen analysis.

 

I aggregate ideas to activate spaces for collective growth.

I am in a continual practice of translating, seeing, training, constructing, and deconstructing systems, choreographic methodologies, theories, and cultural practices as a means to create meaningful experiences and tangible tools.

My movement practice is inspired by studies in Limon, Cunningham, Hawkins, Horton, ballet, martial arts, improvisation, athletics, and more: These are access points for considering the trajectory of movement evolution and, opportunities to question and challenge norms and conventions.

I emphasize courage as a pathway towards vulnerability and creativity.

 

My performance-making centers around social justice. I

 

I use remembering as a way to piece together and liberate Black identity through performance.

Send inquiries to info@helaniusj.com for classes, workshops and guest teaching residencies.

00814.jpg
Teaching
Research
Practce
booking

FRAMEWORK, an evolving practice developed by Helanius J. Wilkins, is a rigorous practice that transforms technique class into a laboratory for examining, exploring, and discovering bodily movements in real time. Informed by architectural concepts, the joy of daring dance is experienced through the activity of framing and re-framing structures where individual and collective discoveries can be made. Structures, cued by action narratives that serve as a guide for participants, meld notions of space together with ways of communicating through the body.

 

FRAMEWORK, as a movement technique, is a viscerally charged ongoing practice, resembling a ritual that employs recovery through activity. Specific design, time, and effort modules are built resulting in choreographic phrases and expressions. By assembling structures for students to inhabit, the ultimate goal of FRAMEWORK is to question communication, refine technical ability and artistry, and interrogate one’s interior material. When fully committed to the rigors of the work, sensory engagement can be triggered bringing these architectural spaces to life.


Send inquiries to info@helaniusj.com for master classes and guest teaching residencies.

bottom of page