Amy O’Neal


Dance History, Hip-Hop, Composition

Amy O’Neal is a dancer, choreographer, dance educator, and curator. A sought-after artist for over 20 years, she teaches and performs nationally and internationally and choreographs for live performance, dance film, music video and virtual reality. From 2000 to 2010, along with musician and composer Zeke Keeble, O’Neal co-directed locust, an experimental multidisciplinary video, music, and contemporary dance company. Inspired by hip-hop culture and experimental cinema, locust‘s work created social commentary with complex humor and heavy beats. From 2010 until now, she creates experimental dance work centering people and practices of hip-hop and house culture while directly addressing race, gender and the sampling nature of innovation. She premiered her first evening-length solo in 2012 where she examined her influences, questioned her relationship to Black music and dance as a white woman, and paid homage to her teachers and dance heroes. As a guest practitioner of Black dance culture, she has participated in experimental, all-styles battles, and house dance battles, co-organized and co-produced Seattle House Dance Project, and developed hip-hop curriculum for the University of Washington. Her passion and research meet at the intersection of the hip-hop, house, and contemporary dance communities. Within this intersection she explores the complex differences, nuances, and layers of hybridized movement vocabularies. For example, in her eighth evening-length work, Opposing Forces, O’Neal and five Seattle-based B-Boys explored fears of feminine qualities in our culture through the hyper-masculine form of Breaking. Opposing Forces toured from 2014 to 2017, and an award-winning documentary about the show called How it Feels premiered in 2019. Her latest work A Trio, a 360 kaleidoscopic ritual of femme expression and connection through the lens of house culture and remixed through contemporary performance tropes and forms, is in development.

O’Neal is a grantee of Creative Capital, National Performance Network, National Dance Project, Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, Foundation for Contemporary Art, and 4 Culture. She is a two-time Artist Trust Fellow, DanceWEB Vienna scholar, and Herb Alpert Award nominee with a BFA from Cornish College of the Arts, where she was awarded the first Distinguished Alumni Award in 2014. While at Cornish, she danced and toured with the Pat Graney Company from 1998 to 2001. O’Neal has been an Artist in Residence at Bates Dance Festival, Headlands Center for the Arts, the US/Japan Choreographer’s Exchange, Velocity Dance Center, The Kennedy Center/The Reach Social Impact Residency, and Harvard University Visiting Dance Innovators program. Since 2001, she has worked both on stage and screen with musician/comedian Reggie Watts. She has improvised with Watts in NYC comedy clubs, toured together in original stage shows, choreographed his iconic 2010 Comedy Central video F…, S… Stack, and along with NYC based artist Ani Taj, co-choreographed Runnin’, a virtual reality music video for Watt’s Wajatta project with electronic music artist John Tejada. Runnin’ premiered at the New Frontier VR showcase at Sundance Film Festival and won Best Interactive at SXSW in 2019.

After 20 years in Seattle, O’Neal relocated to Los Angeles in 2016 and continues to work between the two cities. She joined the faculty of the University of Southern California Glorya Kaufman School of Dance in 2018 where she teaches hip-hop, house, hybrid hip-hop contemporary and improvisation techniques, and lectures on Black social dance history, practices, and media literacy. She is the organizer of Cypher Celebration, a performance cypher that centers experimentation and improvisation across dance forms and is the curator for Kaufman Converge, a new event series profiling professional dance artists with unique paths working across different dance ecologies. Outside of USC Kaufman, she is the founder and curator of The Hybrid Lab: Conversations in Merging Dance Cultures, an evolving platform for Black social dance practitioners to play with form and format within the contemporary performance context. She feels the most at peace when she can embody her full experience as a human and is passionate about creating space for others to do the same.