Staff Spotlight: Rhiannon Murphy

Rhiannon Murphy, is a dynamic Afro-Cuban/Cherokee woman born and raised in Spanish Harlem/Bronx, NYC. She studied classical dance throughout her childhood at 92nd ST Y, Alvin Ailey on scholarship, the Martha Graham School, and Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet. She attended SUNY Purchase Dance Conservatory on a partial scholarship for 2 years completing the Hunter College Dance Program with a BA in Dance. She has performed with: InSpirit Dance Company (Directed by Christal Brown of Urban Bush Women), Cirque du Soleil, Trisha Brown, Germaul Barnes Dance Company, Bill T. Jones Dance Company, Patrick Widrig Inner Landscapes Dance Theatre Collectives, and toured with Kazuko Irabayashi Master Teacher in Martha Graham Technique. 

Finding contemporary dance lacking in reference to her cultural Identity, by 2003 Rhiannon couldn't deny the call of her ancestral spirit any longer and threw herself into the traditional dance and percussion of Africa and the Diaspora. The cultural expression of Cuba, Haiti, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Brazil, West Africa & especially Congo became her muse. She formally apprenticed under Funmilayo Chesney of Fusha Congolese Dance Company NYC & rose to be the captain of her company. Since then, she’s studied dance/percussion from Haiti with Peniel Guerrier, studied in Cuba for 4 years with their National Folkloric Dance Company, New Orleans to study with Tito Sompa Congolese Master teacher, and toured with the Guinean group Les Ambassadeurs du Manding in the Canary Islands summer of 2008. Rhiannon has begun spreading Congolese & Afro-Latin dance throughout Latin America and teaches in Costa Rica and Mexico. She has taught Ballet & Afro-Diaspora forms of dance at Dance Theatre of Harlem, Alvin Ailey, and Ballet Hispanico.

Performing on Indigenous People's Day Performance at the Queen Museum

Rhiannon recently transitioned to her new role as Director of Development at Arts Business Collaborative and is a Board member of Network Support Services Inc. (fulfilling her mission to end mass incarceration). She is a humanitarian and climate change activist, organizing for change through policy advocating for Urban Farming be added to The Green New Deal.

Rhiannon's Daughter "Love Clements" (In the middle screaming) Climate Change Activist featured in Time Magazine 2019.
Her Husband Sean Clements and Daughter Love are artists/activists

NICOLE: What does your activism look like? 

RHIANNON: Activism looks like changing the world for the good of all. 

NICOLE: What is your relationship with art and artistic practice? What kind of art do you enjoy creating?

RHIANNON: I am a ballet/Modern/Afro-diaspora dancer, singer, songwriter, performer, and martial artist. My art practice is a daily ritual.

NICOLE: What are you working on now that really excites you?

RHIANNON: There is a time for performance and there is a time for creation. I am in a creation stage right now. Researching, absorbing knowledge, that will add to what I create in the near future.

"There is a time for performance and there is a time for creation. I am in a creation stage right now."

 

NICOLE: How have you supported POC in the last year?

RHIANNON: In my personal communities, I have supported 10 friends to find employment. I have also worked for two POC-lead organizations who are bringing music to our communities in the Bronx.

Rhiannon's favorite hobby is gardening.
Rhiannon is a Martial Artist and attends Universal Martial Arts Dojo with her daughter Love and husband Sean

NICOLE: What's your favorite quote?

RHIANNON: "You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it." - Maya Angelou

"You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it."

Maya angelou

NICOLE: What's your favorite fall treat?

RHIANNON: Squash or anything baked!

This interview has been edited for length or clarity.