An avid disciple of world dance Olga El is inspired by her multicultural upbringing and a love of storytelling. Movement—particularly martial arts, aerial arts, and dances from North Africa, West Africa, and the Diaspora—is interwoven into her work as a performance artist, writer, and director.
While studying writing at Pratt Institute she directed North African dance troupe Bastet and charitable, community project Belly Dance for Change. In March 2011 she founded The Kandake—a dance-theatre that combines social activism and community engagement with folkloric, modern, theatrical and experimental artistry.
She has performed for HBO, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Manhattan Neighborhood Television Network, Le Poisson Rouge, The NYC African Burial Grounds, The PlayStation Theater, Webster Hall, The House of Yes, Dixon Place, TED Med, The Park Avenue Armory, The Lincoln Center, and many more.
A musical she wrote and directed entitled 1001 Nights: Love Stories on Death Row (A Rock Opera) —in which the legendary Queen Scheherazade is reimagined as a prisoner on death row— was commissioned in 2015 by Dixon Place, the Theatre for the New City, and the Jamaica Performing Arts Center where her company was honored with a dance residency. The full script was also solicited Off-Broadway by The Public Theater in 2015 and is currently in review by another Off-Broadway company. A Spanish-language version of the work has won numerous awards including a prestigious HOLA award for "Outstanding Musical Production" and a New York Latin ACE Award for "Best Musical." She won a Brooklyn Art Council Award, in the multidisciplinary category, which will be used to present a work-in-progress excerpt of her new play Jaguar Woman in the fall of 2019.
She began teaching dance in 2007 at Pratt Institute. She regularly hosts free or low-cost workshops for the community, which have been funded in part by the Citizens Committee for New York City. As a writer she reviews the best in NYC dance and theatre for Broadway World and works as a copywriter for New York City Center.
and a New York Latin ACE Award for "Best Musical" and "Best Director"
FOUNDER & ARTISTIC DIRECTOR