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Zakiya Atkinson (Ed.D. candidate) is an arts education and community engagement innovator, educator, and artist. She is committed to fostering artistic literacy and social change through practices that integrate critical pedagogies, counternarrative storytelling, and community engagement.

Atkinson has been the Founder/ Artistic Director of Zaman Dance Theatre Collective since 2010. She currently serves as the Supervisor of Fine and Performing Arts for Cranford Public Schools where she guides curriculum development, instruction, and programming for the arts. Prior, Atkinson spent 10 years as the dance program director for the Memorial High School Performing Arts Academy where she developed multidisciplinary programming and curricula.

Atkinson has served on the faculties at New York University, William Paterson University, and Bronx Community College. She founded the Essex County MetroWest Dance Festival and Modern Renaissance X, performance events merging student and professional dance artists throughout New Jersey. Atkinson employs the arts in community spaces as a tool for transformation and has facilitated arts outreach programs in South Africa, Uganda, and locally. She has been the recipient of an NEA Learning & Leadership grant and fellowships with Body Politic Laboratory at Gibney (NYC), Bates Dance Festival, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.


Atkinson earned a B.A. in Communications and Theatre from Temple University, MA in Dance Education from New York University, and a Certificate in Holocaust & Genocide Education from Saint Elizabeth University. She also holds a K-12 Certification in Dance and a Supervisory Certificate in the State of New Jersey. Atkinson is a doctoral candidate and Arnhold Fellowship recipient in the dance education program at Teachers College, Columbia University.


Atkinson is an active presenter and workshop facilitator for arts educators, community organizations, and college/universities.

"My teaching and leadership in arts education has been informed by my commitment to increase equitable access to arts education; critical and transformative pedagogies; and my understanding of exclusionary practices and frameworks in the arts. I strive to create environments that are inclusive, culturally sustaining, and transformative. This occurs when we honor and integrate the lived experiences of our students and encourage them to have agency in their learning process."

Zakiya Atkinson

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Join my virtual sessions on 1/21/23

Investigating Community Dance Practice: Notes from the Field

2:00pm-2:30pm EST

Moving Towards Empathy:

Reflecting on the Refugee Crisis

4:45pm-5:45pm EST



Join me for a session of Presentation & Practice- Creating Transformative Communities Through Dance

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Meet me at NDEO 2022 for my presentation of Investigating Community Dance Practice: Notes from the Field

-Zakiya Atkinson 

Session Description:

Dance has always been a practice for the people which makes community dance a practice most authentic and reflective of the ways in which societies have used their bodies to embody, reflect on and respond to varied occurrences in life. This presentation conveys the outcomes of a study entitled Investigating Community Dance Practice. The study used interviews and a focus group to collect data about the preparation, pedagogical approaches, and lived experiences of community dance educators working in diverse settings. 

I will share my findings and how they correlate to literature in the field around community dance education. I will also present the emergence of variances in community dance educator preparedness, the positionality of community dance education in the field, and the application of critical and transformative pedagogies. This research is a segue to continued research towards preparing community dance educators to facilitate dance and movement-based experiences with diverse communities and groups. 



Presentation Highlights


  • Community Dance Education Workshop: Moving Towards Liberation. New York University Steinhardt, Dance Education Program (2022)

  • Arts Are Education: Dance Focused Town Hall Webinar (Panelist). National Dance Education Organization (2021)


  • Sustaining a K-12 Dance Program in Changing Times (Presenter). National Dance Education Organization Conference (2021). Telling Our Stories: The Essentiality of Dance In Changing Times.


  • So, You Want Another Degree: Grad School and Beyond (Panelist). Telling Our Stories: National Dance Education Organization Conference (2021). Telling Our Stories: The Essentiality of Dance In Changing Times.


  • Dance Education in a Changing United States: K-12 Dance Education for Every Child (Panelist) : Dance/ NYC 2019 Symposium: Dance in a Changing United States, Hunter College. New York, New York


  • Cross-Curricular Connectivity: A Creative Approach to the Holocaust, Genocide and Human Rights (Presenter). Teaching the World Forum 2016, Rutgers University: GSE. New Brunswick, New Jersey


  • New Strategies for Holocaust Education/ (Presenter): Collaborative Conference on Holocaust Education: Looking to the Future (2016). College of Saint Elizabeth. Morristown, New Jersey


  • See the Need and Meet it: Artistry, Community, Leadership and Diversity in High School Dance (Presenter). National Dance Education Organization Conference (2016). Speaking With Our Feet: Advocating, Analyzing, and Advancing Dance Education. Arlington, Virginia

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