Esther Baker-Tarpaga is a choreographer and performance artist. Her current research is on visibility, invisibility, race, gender, and motherhood. She is co-artistic director of Baker & Tarpaga Dance Project, a transnational dance theatre company founded in 2004. Her evening-length work, "Beautiful Struggle" toured to I Trotra Contemporary Dance Festival in Madagascar, Jacob’s Pillow Inside Out Festival and The King Arts Complex in Ohio. She was recently a Marin Headlands Artist in Residence and is currently collaborating with Hind Benali on a performance project titled "Her Other Side." She has an ongoing series titled "Whiteness Revisited," which are short performance works for herself, her family, and invited participants. In April 2013 she performed with Guillermo Gomez-Pena La Pocha Nostra’s premiere of "Corpo Insurrecto 3.0: The Robo Proletariat" at the San Francisco Performance Art Institute. She has performed with David Rousseve/REALITY "Saudade" Project, DAFRA West African Dance and Drum Ensemble, and Victoria Marks.
She co-directs with Olivier Tarpaga a dance, music, and intercultural collaboration summer workshop in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. She taught at The Ohio State University Department of Dance, Rio Hondo Community College, and Cypress Community College. She led a study abroad program in Senegal at Germaine Acogny’s Ecole de Sables and received her MFA and MA in Dance at UCLA’s Department of World Arts and Cultures and her BA at Bowdoin College.
She curates a video blog site "Shifting Traces: Contemporary Dance and Technology In and Outside of Africa," featuring performance and interviews with African choreographers (http://shiftafrica.wordpress.com (link is external)). She has a forthcoming publication in Live Arts Almanac on the performance work of Opiyo Okach and Nelisiwe Xaba and a Routldege Encyclopedia of Modernism on choreographer Germaine Acogny. She recently was invited through the US State Department to teach and lecture at KINANI Contemporary Dance Festival in Mozambique and Ateliers Aex-Corps in Senegal. From 2006-2008 she was a US State Department Cultural Envoy invited to teach contemporary dance in Burkina Faso, South Africa, Botswana, and Guinea.
Baker & Tarpaga Dance Project’s work has been performed in Los Angeles at REDCAT Now Festival, Highways Performance Space, and Celebrate Dance. In addition BTDP has performed at The Kelly Strayhorn Theater in Pittsburgh, VSA N4th in New Mexico, Dialogue De Corps in Burkina Faso, The King Arts Complex in Columbus, The Maitisong Festival in Botswana, Abok I Ngoma Festival in Cameroon, and The French Cultural Center in Senegal. From 2000-2005 she collaborated with Senegal-based dancers, musicians, and rappers, notably Andreya Ouamba, Fatou Cisse, Djibril Diallo, Bertrand Saki, Keyti, Sen Kumpe, and Fatim. She co-produced United Nations of Hip Hop, which screened at AFI International and NYC Pan African Film Festival and recently created Free to Be You and Me with her daughter for The Dances Made to Order film series. She is the recipient of New York Live Arts Suitcase Fund, Battelle Endowment for Technology and Human Affairs, Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award, Johnstone Fund for New Music, Durfee, Javits Fellowship, Coca-Cola Critical Difference for Women, and UCIRA grant.