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National Portrait Gallery Names Diana Movius Its Next Choreographer-in-Residence

Credit: Choreographer Diana Movius. Photograph by Brandon Dozier of Cinema Black.
Credit: Choreographer Diana Movius. Photograph by Brandon Dozier of Cinema Black.

The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery has announced Diana Movius as the museum’s next choreographer-in-residence. During the 18 month residency, Movius will create new works inspired by the Portrait Gallery’s collection and exhibitions. The new dances will be performed by the Washington, D.C.-based Moveius Contemporary Ballet in the museum’s Robert and Arlene Kogod Courtyard. Movius will also participate in public discussions about art and dance.

The residency will launch with a world premiere of  “Seasons” inspired by Rachel Carson whose portrait is in the museum’s “Forces of Nature: Voices That Shape Environmentalism” exhibition (on view through Sept. 24). Set to a modern musical rendition of Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons,” the new ballet contemplates Carson’s transformative book Silent Spring and her love of birds. The program will also include “Apocrita,” an athletic and energizing ballet that pays homage to biologist Edward O. Wilson and the fascinating and often overlooked lives of ants, wasps, and bees. The performance will take place July 21 at 4 p.m.

“I’m thrilled to collaborate deeply with the National Portrait Gallery as the next Choreographer in Residence,” Movius said. “The upcoming exhibits are exciting and reflect the types of timely issues that inspire my dance works. The Kogod Courtyard is such a fantastic venue for dance performances—it’s large and striking with an outdoor feel yet fosters closeness to the audience.”

Movius is an environmental expert who addresses critical issues through choreography. Movius lived and worked in the Peruvian Amazon rainforest from 2005 to 2006 while earning her master’s in environmental anthropology from Stanford University. From 2007 to 2023, she worked at leading climate-change think tanks and policy shops in Washington, influencing U.S. and international negotiations on ambitious climate and rainforest policy while building her professional dance company.

In 2010, Movius established Moveius Contemporary Ballet and is the artistic director of the dance company. The company tackles big ideas pertaining to environmental and economic justice through choreography. Its performance season highlights choreography by local women, BIPOC and LGBTQ+ choreographers and the city-wide dance community. Most recently, Movius collaborated with the National Portrait Gallery in April 2024 to honor Earth Day with a performance of “GLACIER: A Climate Change Ballet” at the museum. Movius is also the founder of the Dance Loft on 14, a theater and dance center in Washington’s Petworth neighborhood, dedicated to providing affordable studio space and dance education to Washington arts professionals and the local community.

Movius is the Portrait Gallery’s second choreographer-in-residence. In 2016, the Portrait Gallery established the first residency of its kind for the Smithsonian with fellow Washington-based choreographer Dana Tai Soon Burgess. Burgess and his namesake dance company developed eight commissioned performances during his residency: “Margin” (2016); “After 1001 Nights” (2017); “I Am Vertical” (2017); “Silhouettes” (2018); “A Tribute to Marian Anderson” (2020); a suite of three duets “El Jaleo,” “Egyptian Woman” and “Madame X” (2020); “El Muro/The Wall” (2022); and “A Tribute to Maya Lin” (2023).

National Portrait Gallery

The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery tells the multifaceted story of the United States through the individuals who have shaped American culture. Spanning the visual arts, performing arts and new media, the Portrait Gallery portrays poets and presidents, visionaries and villains, actors and activists whose lives tell the nation’s story.        

The National Portrait Gallery is located at Eighth and G streets N.W., Washington, D.C. Smithsonian Information: (202) 633-1000. Connect with the museum at and on Facebook, Instagram, X and YouTube.

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