Helanius Wilkins. Photography by Christopher Michael Carruth (copyright 2019).
Associate Professor • Associate Chair and Director of Dance

Room C335, University Theatre Building
261 UCB, Boulder CO, 80309-0261

Helanius J. Wilkins, a native of Lafayette, Louisiana, is an award-winning choreographer, performance artist, innovator, and educator. Wilkins's creative research and projects are rooted in the interconnections of American contemporary performance, cultural history, and identities of Black men. In his intermedia collaborations he works with artists from a wide range of disciplines, including film, video, and design. 

Wilkins founded and artistically directed EDGEWORKS Dance Theater, Washington, DC’s first all-male contemporary dance company of predominately African-American men, that existed for thirteen (13) years (2001 – 2014). To date, he has choreographed and directed over 60 works, which includes two critically-acclaimed musical productions for Washington, DC’s Studio Theater – “Passing Strange” (2010) and “POP!” (2011). In addition to performing the works of nationally recognized choreographers including Robert Moses, Joy Kellman, and Kevin Wynn, he performed with Maida Withers’ Dance Construction Company (DC), and as a guest with the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange (MD).    

His honors include the 2008 Pola Nirenska Award for Contemporary Achievement in Dance, DC’s highest honor given by the Washington Performing Arts Society; the 2002 and 2006 Millennium Stage Kennedy Center Local Dance Commissioning Project Award; and multiple Metro DC Dance Awards. Foundations and organizations including New England Foundation for the Arts (National Dance Project), National Performance Network (NPN), the Boulder Office of Arts & Culture Public Arts Program, D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities, and the National Endowment for the Arts have supported his work.  

His choreography has been presented and performed at venues such as the Allen Theatre in historic Playhouse Square (Cleveland, OH), The Painted Bride Arts Center (Philadelphia, PA), Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival as part of Inside Out (Lee, MA), Thelma Hill Center for the Performing Arts (Brooklyn, NY), Dance Place (Washington, DC), The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (Washington, DC), Links Hall (Chicago, IL), and The Dance Factory (Johannesburg, South Africa).   

In 2020 he launched his most ambitious creative research to date. Titled The Conversation Series: Stitching the Geopolitical Quilt to Re-Body Belonging, it is a multi-year, multi-outcome work that is an ongoing and always shifting dance-quilt that celebrates and confronts heritage, resiliency, justice and hope. A 7 – 10-year practice/process, this work requires traveling to all 50 U.S. states/D.C./5 inhabited territories to create a component of the work in and WITH community. The work will yield new choreographies, a documentary film, a digital archive, and a DEI&SJ (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, & Social Justice) toykit (a toolkit implies a need to fix, a toykit represents an invitation to co-create and participate in a process of uniting and healing). https://www.helaniusj.com/the-conversation-series 

He is a member of the National Board of Directors of the American College Dance Association for the Northwest region and was appointed in 2018 by Governor Jared Polis to the Colorado Council on Creative Industries for a 4-year term. In addition to becoming a certified Colorado Change Leader in 2021, he serves on two boards for arts organizations.   

Photography credit: Photo courtesy of Christopher Michael Carruth ©2019.