Bandeja Munir ’18 was one of only 10 accomplished performers, choreographers and artists to receive a scholarship from the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs to attend the 2018 International Association of Blacks in Dance Conference and Festival. Nominated by Benjamin Johnson, director of performing arts at the Department of Cultural Affairs, Munir traveled to her hometown of Los Angeles for the IABD’s 30th annual gathering in January.
Munir began her dance training at the Lula Washington Dance Theatre School in Los Angeles under the tutelage of Artistic Director Lula Washington and Associate Director Tamica Washington-Miller. There, she honed her skills in Horton, Dunham and Graham modern dance techniques, classic and contemporary ballet, jazz, West African, hip-hop and tap. In addition to becoming the school’s youngest staff instructor at the age of 14, she became recognized as a sought-after choreographer.
“Bandeja has been experimenting with choreography since high school,” says Professor of Dance Cadence Whittier. “Her choreography is varied in terms of dance style, subject matter, and artistic vision. Regardless of the style she chooses to choreograph, her pieces always possess rhythmical nuance, dynamically varied movement phrases, and interesting spatial design.”
Munir has since studied with Ana Marie Forsythe of the Ailey School and earned an instructor certification in Lester Horton modern dance technique in 2016. She hosted and facilitated a summer dance intensive at her own company, Innate Dance Theatre, at the Lula Washington Dance Theatre studios in August 2016. At HWS, she taught a two-day master class in October 2017.
A double major in dance (performance/choreography) and media and society (composition and technology), Munir combined her interests in dance, film and new media to produce the first film submission to the Colleges’ Junior/Senior Choreographers Concert in 2017; she will present that film at the American College Dance Association Conference in March. During the summer of 2017, she completed another short film, commissioned for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre’s Summer AileyCamp that was presented to Artistic Director Robert Battle and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
A graduate of the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, Munir earned an NAACP ACTSO Gold Medal for the Beverly Hills/Hollywood area and was named a 2014 National High School Dance Festival-Choreography Finalist. As a Posse Foundation Leadership Scholar, she came to HWS as part of one of the most successful college access and youth leadership development programs in the country.