Marjani Forté-Saunders

Artist in Residence


Marjani Forté-Saunders is an independent artist, co-founder with Nia Love, of LOVE|FORTÉ A COLLECTIVE, and one of two Directors of the Alkebu-lan Cultural Center of Northwest Pasadena, CA, alongside Sound Designer/Composer Everett Saunders. She is a proud recipient of the 2017 Outstanding Performance Bessie Award as one of 21 Black Womyn and Gender Non-Conforming artists of the collective Skeleton Architecture. Marjani is an Inaugural recipient of the UBW Choreographic Center Fellowship and a two-time Princess Grace Foundation (PGF-USA) awardee. As a recipient of the 2017 MAP Fund and Jerome Foundation General Grant, her performance installation, Memoirs of a… Unicorn, premiered with Co-Commissions from New York Live Arts and LMCC Extended Life Residency at the artist run space Collapsable Hole (November 2017). Saunders is a proud alum of the Urban Bush Women Dance company, having performed and co-created new works within the company’s repertoire for over 5 years, and continues to share UBW’s unique approach to community engagement and cultural organizing as a facilitator within Urban Bush Women’s BOLD Teaching Network. She is also a proud alum of artist residencies at Brooklyn Arts Exchange (with LOVE|FORTÉ), New York Live Arts, Movement Research, LMCC Extended Life and the CUNY Dance Initiative.

With support from a SURDNA Foundation Thriving Cultures Grant, Saunders curated a three-month exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary African Diaspora Art in Brooklyn, NY titled being Here…in Memory, weaving the work of 4 distinct multi-media artists in conversation with her choreographic trilogy being Here…in Memory,LOVE|FORTÉ and Memory Withholdings.

As an educator, Forté-Saunders  has served on Faculty and as a Visiting Artist at Hunter College CUNY, Princeton University, Bard College and the Graduate Yale School of Acting. Her latest collaborations include working alongside Sundance Award Winning director Kahlil Joseph (director of recording artist Beyoncé’s Lemonade) as a choreographer on Sampha’s PROCESS (a short film) and the Pantene ProV “Strong Is Beautiful” Commercial Campaign.

Gleefully, Memoirs of a…Unicorn’s installation includes contributions from an extraordinary team of designers including: Mac Arthur Genius Mimi Lien, media designer Meena Murugesan, lighting designer Tuce Yasak, husband and composer Everett Saunders, and her own father, master carpenter and contractor Rick Forté. The work continues to find new iterative developments across the nation with “next stage” support from the Maggie Allesee National Choreographic Center at FSU in Tallahasee, Florida.

Forté-Saunders is thrilled to join a dynamic line of artists in residence at the USC Kaufman School of Dance Fall 2018. With deep gratitude, she mobilizes her work, honoring that it stems from being born in and having engaged with culturally rich, vibrant, historic and politically charged communities.