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Symara Sarai ’19

A Portland, OR native residing in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, Symara Sarai ’19 has immersed themselves in interdisciplinary and choreographic studies globally.

Their work varies due to the different influences she’s embraced throughout her life.

Sarai is a recipient of the Dai Ailian Foundation Scholarship based in Trinidad and Tobago. The scholarship led them to Beijing, China, where they spent two years gaining an associate in modern choreography at the renowned Beijing Dance Academy.

Symara was a resident artist for Bearnstow, Gibney 6.2, Gallims’ Moving Artist residency, and a 2022 Center for Performance Research Artist-in-Residence and Brooklyn Arts Exchange space grantee.

They have had film works commissioned by Berlin-based choreographer Christoph Winkler. Johnson has presented work at the WIP Showing at Bates Dance Festival, Judson Church, Smush Gallery, The Craft, BAAD, CreateArtXGallim, WIM Salon, Mount Vernon Community Theatre, ACMA, The Forum Art Space, Moving Art Exchange, Chez Bushwhick, The Beijing Dance Academy Theatre and venues throughout NYC and Germany.

Excerpted from

Johnson performed “The Kitchen Sink Wrangler at the Midnight Rodeo” at Out-FRONT! Festival 2023 in January, a New York Times Critic’s Pick.

The Bessie Awards honored Sarai (then Johnson) in 2023 with the Outstanding Breakout Choreographer Award for making an exceptional career leap.

Sarai describes themselves as “a Black, queer, radical, wildass maker in the field. Through their work, they aim to embody the destruction of normalcy and known structures. Symara is eager to exchange thoughts on fearlessness and radical vulnerability centered on empowering uninhibited desires and wants.”

Awards / Residencies

Bessie Award

Outstanding Breakout Choreographer